Fresh in the West Valley
Over the last few years, Yamhill County has experienced a dining revolution. Wine country staples like Nick’s Italian Café in McMinnville and Tina’s in Dundee were joined by a new generation of chefs and restaurateurs eager to build the local foodie scene’s reputation to the same prominence as the wine industry. Restaurant after restaurant has opened its doors offering cuisine that equaled and complemented the quality and complexity of flavors reflected in the area’s grapes.
Now, that revolution is moving west. During the summer of 2016, it surfaced in Sheridan, spearheaded by two young chefs with an eclectic style and a passion for first-tier cuisine.
Meet Kyleigh Hebert and Stephanie Westby, the proprietors of RiOT Café.
They met by chance at Nick’s — Westby was running the line and Hebert was working on an externship as she finished culinary school. The connection was instant, though the process of securing their place was a little more complicated.
“We originally wanted to do a taco/donut shop that turned into a bar at night,” Westby said.
Their landing spot, Bridge Street in Sheridan, wouldn’t accommodate the hood system needed to operate a fryer. So they settled on a different concept — one that’s tricky to define but easy to enjoy.
“People ask ‘What kind of food do you do?’” Hebert recalled.
“Everything,” is Westby’s easy answer.
“Whatever we want!” Hebert added.
There are several constants on the menu —Westby’s beloved 20 percent ground bacon burger with a bacon-rendered aioli, bacon strips and her signature red-wine pickled onions is one — but these chefs don’t believe in being bound by any sort of culinary genre label. Hebert put together a Cuban sandwich special, while Westby whipped up a Thai soup on a whim.
“We mix it up all the time,” Hebert said. “I don’t like to say our menu is seasonal; it’s when we get tired of it. If we’re tired of making it, you’re tired of eating it. Our menu’s small, but we’re constantly changing it.”
Sometimes there are subtle amendments, like the café’s breakfast hash. More than just plain-Jane potatoes, consider a constantly evolving mix of vegetables and seasonings under a pair of perfectly poached eggs.
“Oh, hey, we have a little of this left over; throw it in the hash!” Hebert explained. “Its the reason we have a hash on the menu.”
The theme is quality — if they don’t love it, Westby and Hebert won’t serve it. This, and their commitment to fresh ingredients, has made RiOT Café an instant success and culinary landmark in a corner of the region not previously known for unique dining experiences.
“When we first opened, we had people come in and say, ‘Thank you. We haven’t had real food in Sheridan in so long,’” Westby recalled.
One taste is enough to explain why they’ve drawn diners from Portland and Seattle — the food is real, and really good.