The Mill Casino Hotel may be the next hot spot for diners in Oregon’s Bay Area. The question is, which table to choose? Diners will find distinctly new character to the menus in each of the Mill’s five restaurants and bars.
It’s a new groove that offers guests unique tasting experiences in each dining area, (not just a different view), and pays homage to Pacific Northwest flavors.
Executive Chef Chris Foltz joined the staff in the spring of 2016. He and Greg Duerfeldt, Director of Food and Beverage, started brainstorming new menus right away. The Whitecaps Lounge menu was unveiled this summer. Other restaurants followed in October.
“One of the big changes was reconnecting with local seafood (suppliers), which takes a lot of effort on the part of the chef. But, that’s where the time should be spent,” said Foltz.
The Mill is owned and operated by the Coquille Indian Tribe, and one of Foltz’s roles is to support local tribal business, including food growers and producers. Foltz says the response from local producers has been enthusiastic. In addition to regional seafood, meat and produce, The Mill also features a variety of Oregon wine, beer and spirits.
The Plankhouse Restaurant already has a reputation for a great sit-down dinner. The view of the Coos River is a scenic conversation-starter, with tugboats, cargo and fishing boats cruising by.
Steak is still the rock star here, and Foltz especially likes the slow roasted filet mignon, salt and herb crusted and roasted medium rare with a huckleberry demi-glace. He also recommends the Seafood Saffron Sauté with a variety of fish, including salmon, halibut and mussels, in a court-bouillon with saffron cream. Lamb is new to the Plankhouse menu. The lamb shank is braised in Dancin Vineyards Pinot Noir and offered with a traditional serving of seasoned root vegetables.
Stop at Whitecaps Lounge for a cocktail and small bite. Tapas style menu choices include prosciutto-wrapped scallops with apricot horseradish chutney and balsamic marinated flank steak with gorgonzola cream sauce. The lounge offers a variety of Oregon microbrews. And, guests can sample Charleston-based Stillwagon Distillery rum in the house mojito or the Orangetini martini.
Warehouse 101 is a relaxed sports pub with the best wings in town, according to Foltz. Wings aren’t the only option, however. Diners can also choose from a wide selection of burgers while they enjoy the evening’s live entertainment.
Artisan and Chef
Many residents know Foltz as a former culinary instructor at Southwestern Oregon Community College and for his expertise in ice and wood carving. Several Foltz sculptures decorate the Port of Bandon waterfront. The octopus near Webber’s Pier is the fan-favorite, according to port manager Gina Dearth.
Foltz earned his culinary degree in Baltimore, Maryland, then interned in Ireland and traveled in Europe and the United States, before “landing” in Coos Bay. The Executive Chef title may be new, but Foltz has worked with the Coquille Tribe for more than 15 years, first as a line cook and sous chef at the Mill. He then accepted contracts for special tribal events around the state.
“It’s been a great 15 years, or so. Now I’m excited to be executive chef for the casino,” said Foltz.
While reinventing the menus, Foltz worked closely with Mill’s kitchen crew. He enjoys exploring new ideas with long term staff and highlighting their expertise.
“We want to impress with what we can do really well,” said Foltz.
The Mill Casino Hotel is open daily at 3201 Tremont Ave., on Highway 101, in Coos Bay, Oregon. Check restaurant hours online at themillcasino.com.
Article by Geneva Miller. Images courtesy of The Mill Casino Hotel: food pics and Chef Foltz in the kitchen by Don Frank Photography; Chef Foltz at open-air fire pit by Steven Michael Photography.