Travel Story: Old Town Bandon
By Vanessa Palencia
On the way to Bandon, Oregon, I made the joke that the founders probably named it Bandon because people wanted to [a]bandon the town. I thought I was hilarious and clever to have come up with that, but my boyfriend Nick just gave me some serious side eye and muttered “Oh, boy.” I guess I’m more of a sit-down comedian than a stand-up. LOL. Get it? No? It’s okay because I’m here to talk about the town of Bandon, not crack jokes.
I’ve always been a lover of old towns and small towns, and Bandon, Oregon was a combination of both. Situated on the coast, it gets some of the ocean breeze, making the area a bit chilly.
I was only there for a day, so I wasn’t able to get the full experience. Don’t worry, I got down to business and found the places I needed to try before I left--the chocolate shop, the creamery, and (since I could only pick one of the many amazing restaurants there) the italian restaurant.
We had a huge appetite after our visit to the West Coast Game Park Safari, so we decided to get dinner early (around 5 PM). Of course, I had already done my research and had a few places in mind, but since my boyfriend is a huge Italian lover, we decided to try the Italian restaurant. Plus, the restaurant had a 4 out of 5 star rating on Yelp, so we had to check out.
Upon entering the restaurant, we found that it was a small, cozy place that had space in the back for a live band in the evenings. In order to be seated, we had to ring a bell and sign our name in the guest book. This makes it a lot more personal to customers, which I loved.
After being seated, we were immediately served a wooden tray with some sliced bread and a tray of dipping sauces: olive oil and balsamic vinegar mix, marinara, pesto, and olives. I know this could have been our appetizer, but I really wanted to try one of their appetizer boards, so I ordered the first one on the menu that came with sliced bread, mozzarella, olives, roasted bell peppers, and eggplant. The roasted bell peppers were to die for! If you’re a lover of sun-dried tomatoes, you will love these bell peppers!
For our entrees, I ordered spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with clams), Nick ordered their homemade lasagne, and my son had their pepperoni pizza.
My spaghetti was lightly flavored with white wine and sauteed garlic. The cherry tomatoes added the perfect touch to balance out the heaviness of the pasta.
My son’s pizza was thin crusted, but had the perfect amount of cheese and pepperoni. The cheese was creamy and the dough melted in your mouth, making it easy to eat more than one slice.
As for Nick’s dish...well, he finished it before I could even get a chance to try it. But he did scarf it down, so I think it’s safe to say that it was nothing short of amazing.
For dessert, we ordered the tiramisu. All I can really say is that it was heaven. You need to save room for this and a cappuccino at the end.
This is supposed to be the place where the best cheese is served. Of course, if you tell me that something is the best, then I have to try it out for myself.
When you enter the double doors, you can see a huge window on the right where you can see the cheese being made. They have three huge coolers in front of the window where they keep their cheeses and offer samples of each cheese. I tried some interesting flavors, such as Vampire Slay Garlic Cheese and In Your Face Pepper Jack Cheese. But my favorite was the Extra Aged Cheddar Cheese. It had a sharp tang that ended with a creamy, nutty taste. It was no surprise when I realized it won the National Award for best cheese in 2015.
We also had to try out their homemade ice cream. Since they’re overly generous with their scoops, I didn’t get one for myself. I figured the guys would end up needing help to finish theirs off. (I was right).
My son ordered their vanilla bean and cotton candy ice cream. Nick ordered their java chip and vanilla bean. I’m not a fan of cotton candy at all, but I think I’ll make an exception to this ice cream because while the initial cotton candy flavor didn’t appeal to me, it was the creaminess that really got me hooked. The vanilla bean ice cream was also super creamy and light. I was not disappointed. I’m glad I don’t live near this place otherwise I would be tempted to get an ice cream cone on a daily basis.
Claimed as the finest chocolatier in town, I decided to test it out for myself. On yelp, it said that they open up at 10 AM on Sundays, so I parked myself in front of the shop at 9:58. They were running a few minutes late, but I didn’t mind because they were taking out fresh, hout-out-of-the-oven pain au chocolate. Because making fresh croissants is a legit reason to open up late, duh! I’ll happily wait outside a shop for fresh pastries.
The small shop is managed by four people, so you can rest assured that your chocolates here are given detailed attention and care. They make the chocolates on-site and create different batches each day. After perusing the little gifts and booklets they had on display, I decided to look at the menu. I noticed that they offered drinking chocolate. Drinking chocolate is different than the normal hot chocolate that Americans are accustomed to. Like the european hot chocolate, it is thick and creamy. If you’ve read my Travel Story: Paris, then you’ll know what I mean. However, I didn’t order the drinking chocolate because I wanted that to be a special European-only kind of drink. Instead, I ordered a 15-piece box of chocolates. This meant that I could have one of each kind of chocolate they had. And of course, Nick offered to be my guinea pig and tried out their pain au chocolate.
My favorite flavor was their vanilla passionfruit and their caramel-filled chocolate. If you’re a fan of See’s Candies’ Key Lime Pie truffle, then you’ll definitely love Coastal Mist’s vanilla passionfruit. It begins with a creamy vanilla flavor and ends with a tangy note. Their caramel is another story. It is unbelievably buttery. Just the way I like it.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to taste the pain au chocolate because Nick is selfish like that (kidding). I was too full from sampling all the cheeses and ice cream earlier that day, so I had to trust Nick’s judgement when it came to rating the chocolate croissant. He really enjoyed the croissant. He said that he particularly enjoyed the crunch from the chocolate and the buttery flakiness. He also mentioned that he appreciated that the chocolate wasn’t too overbearing and that he should have ordered two additional ones. I guess we’ll be returning to Bandon soon.
Overall, while Bandon may not be a big-time name like Portland, it definitely does offer small-town charm that makes it stand out entirely on its own. So whether you come here looking for another small-town, old-timey feel to explore or strictly just to test out their fine cheeses and chocolates, Bandon is definitely a must-visit town.