The Estacada Sampler: The Country
Estacada staple has survived for 32 years thanks to a diverse menu and country atmosphere
Sometimes a name says everything it needs to, and in the case of The Country Restaurant and Lounge in Estacada, the name couldn't be more fitting.
In a building that looks like you're going home for a meal, The Country, 341 N.E. Main St., offers a variety of home cooked meals perfect for people of all ages and diets.
As soon as you open the menu, you're greeted with what almost acts as a mission statement: 'When you think of going to the country it brings to mind a relaxing atmosphere, fresh coffee at the kitchen table, friendly people and good food … Sit down and visit, relax awhile…you're in The Country now!'
Fortunately for diners, sitting down and relaxing is the easy part at The Country, but deciding what to eat can be difficult.
The menu features more than 190 items including breakfasts, lunches, appetizers, dinners and desserts - all of which are served all day every day.
For breakfast the most popular choice is one of 20 omelets, unless you'd like to construct your own, which is always an option. Personally, I went with the recommendation of the 'South of the Border' omelet, which included spicy taco meat, olives, sour cream, cheese and tomatoes as well as a side of salsa, all for under $9.
The meat had just the right amount of spice so it had a nice flavoring without being too hot, all of which was nicely countered by the sour cream.
My favorite part of the meal, however, was the choice of sides. I've been to plenty of places that offer pancakes, toast, hash browns or biscuits as options, but The Country was the first I've seen to offer french toast. Served with butter and two types of syrup, the french toast was an excellent accompaniment to the omelet.
If you aren't in the mood for breakfast, you aren't without equally good options. Among the choices are burgers and sandwiches for lunch including the 'Power of 3' burger which has three hamburger patties and 3 slices of cheese with all of the normal fixings.
For dinner the options increase further. The most popular item on the dinner menu is the 'stuffed steak,' ground beef filled with ham and swiss cheese, topped with grilled onion and mushrooms as well as brown gravy.
The moral of the story is regardless of what time of day it is or what kind of food you're in the mood for, you're in luck.
Other menu options include a vegetarian menu that features 43 items spanning breakfast, lunch and dinner; and a 'lite eaters' menu that is available for people of all ages and includes smaller portions of popular dishes like chicken fried steak, small burgers and a breakfast sandwich.
The Country was purchased by Linda Parsons 32 years ago, opening Aug. 5, 1979, toward the end of the logging boom.
'I had worked in a restaurant and I decided to go to restaurant management school,' she said. 'One term into school I saw a classified ad that this place was for sale, and since we already owned property in Colton I bought it.'
A restaurant has existed in the same location dating back to the 1950s, when there weren't even sidewalks in front yet so cars drove all the way up to the windows, Parsons said.
Despite all the ups and downs in the economy since they opened, however, the business is still afloat in part because of Parsons' hard work.
While she lives right behind the restaurant, she works nearly every day they're open - which is 350 days a year. She does everything from cooking to serving to cleaning whenever it's needed.
Another unique feature of The Country is a gift shop, located right in front, which sells jewelry and knick-knacks.
For Parsons, the fact that The Country isn't located in downtown Estacada hasn't hampered her ability to succeed.
'You have to know we're here since we're off the beaten path, but most of the time when people discover us, they come back,' she said. 'My kids always said we should open a restaurant in Portland, but we like the small town and we like Estacada.
'It may be easier there, but we like it here,' she said.
Fortunately for her, the feeling is mutual.
The Country Restaurant and Lounge is open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day of the week including extended hours on some weekends. The restaurant is located at 341 N.E. Main and #8200;St.
The Sampler is a weekly column highlighting local restaurants and their signature dishes. Look for a review of our meal at The Safari Club next week.