A rare coastal standout.
—Marilyn McFarlane, RFT Contributor.
Many restaurants and cafés on the Oregon coast serve tasty clam chowder and fish and chips, but fine cuisine is a rarity.
Among those rare standouts, Newmans at 988, in Cannon Beach, ranks as one of the top few.
The food here is extraordinary. Executive Chef John Newman, the owner and operator, excels at preparing French-Italian dishes from fresh north coast ingredients, using a creative touch that makes them sing.
Open for dinner only, the restaurant offers à la carte choices and a prix fixe menu that changes nightly. It’s pricey — and worth it. The appetizer list includes crab cakes with shallot aioli (diners rave about this one), seared sea scallops, pear and foie gras with black truffles, and “Faitha’s Famous Crab Carbonara,” a crab and pasta dish with cheese and pancetta (Faitha is the sous-chef at Newmans).
About those seared scallops. Served with sweet corn, mushrooms, and a parsley/carrot reduction, with a touch of truffle oil to add a light smokiness, they are melt-in-the-mouth delicious. Portions are not large, but for a small appetite, this appetizer and a salad or soup can be enough.
It’s hard to choose a favorite from the eight entrées, but lobster ravioli, served with hazelnuts and marsala cream sauce, comes to mind. The marinated lamb rack on wild mushrooms and potatoes is dense with flavor, and the duck trio (lightly crusted liver and light and dark meat) is both hearty and delicate. There’s one vegetarian-friendly dish: grilled portabello mushroom with polenta, tomato, eggplant and gorgonzola, in a balsamic syrup.
The wine list is not extensive, but it’s varied, with labels from Italy, France, the Pacific Northwest, and California.
The six dessert offerings are appropriately decadent (white chocolate mousse parfait with raspberries and Chambord, for example) and include pastries by Pastry Chef Nancy Williams.
Newmans at 988 is small and cozy, with about ten tables in a yellow house that was formerly Pulucci’s Italian restaurant. The carpeting and low ceiling keep the noise level low, and the background music (Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett) is pleasant. It’s not a formal place — this is the coast, after all — but you dine by candlelight on white linens.
John Newman trained at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. He worked in Hawaii and Europe, then at the noted Silks Restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in San Francisco until a trip with his wife, Sandy, to the Oregon coast in 1995 lured him north. He opened Newmans at 988 in 2006. Along the way he’s received numerous awards and has been active in the community, participating in charitable events and the International Pinot Noir Celebration. He is also the Executive Chef and Culinary Consultant at Cannon Beach Conference Center.
Newmans at 988 is open daily July 1 to October 15, and closed Mondays the rest of the year. Reservations recommended.
Newmans at 988
988 Hemlock St.
Cannon Beach, Oregon 97110