Finding a Great Restaurant

For some time now I’ve been wanting to highlight some local restaurants and places that I enjoy frequenting here in Lake Oswego.  Today I want to let you know about 3 wonderful restaurants on the Lake Grove side of town.  All 3 are practically institutions in the area, having been in business for many years.  They are also located in a cluster along the same stretch of Boones Ferry Rd, the main road through the West end of town.

la-provenceLa Provence is the youngster in the group.  The founders of the restaurant, Pascal, Didier, and Alain came from France in 1996 wanting to share their passion for the French Patisserie, which is a bakery that specializes in pastries and sweets.  Don’t be fooled by the outstanding selection of breads, tortes, cakes and croissants that are showcased as you walk-in.  This restaurant offers first class food well beyond the temptations of sweets.  When the restaurant first opened it specialized in breakfast and lunch.  My favorite breakfast choice has long been the smoked-salmon hash.  Served over crispy hash browns, the smoked salmon is topped by a poached egg and creamy dill sauce.  The homemade bread makes delicious toast, and the coffee is outstanding.  For lunch I recommend the French onion soup.  It is the best I have ever had.  And in the last year or so the restaurant has begun to stay open for dinner service.  I recently had a wonderful dinner there at a time when they were offering live music.  I consider the pricing to be affordable and the food highly reliable.  The atmosphere is relaxed and sunny with bright splashes of color from the art work and provencial-style table cloths.  Located at 15964 Boones Ferry Rd, you can find menus and more information at their website,

gubancsNext door to La Provence is Gubanc’s.  Gubanc’s and I have something in common.  We both came to Lake Oswego in 1976.  I guess you could say that we kind of grew up together.  Owned by Tony and Anne Gubanc, this restaurant is a neighborhood classic.  The atmosphere is classy while being comfortable.  Not too expensive, you’ll find the food to be Northwest with an interesting flair.  The restaurant is most famous for its soups.  They have 80 different varieties that were personally created for their menu.  While the traditionals like clam chowder are available, you will also often find unusual selections like Chicken and Pear or Santa Fe Chicken with White Bean.  Yum.  A great deal at lunch is the Soup Board.  For $7.50 you get a generous bowl of homemade soup with a side board of bread, cheese, and fruit.  Dinner options include South Western Pork Wraps, Chicken and Dumplings, and Halibut Provencial.  For dessert they are well known for their Fresh Fruit Cobbler.  You’ll find it busy every night of the week.  There is a full bar and I think there are quite a few regulars who eat dinner here several nights a week.  To continue to fill the dining room night-after-night for over 30 years, you know they must be doing something right.  Located at 16008 Boones Ferry Rd.  For a copy of the menu and more information, visit Gubanc’s website at

riccardosFinally, I want to brag about Riccardo’s.  This is my favorite “special occasion” restaurant in Lake Oswego.  Not that you would only want to go there on special occasions, like an anniversary or a birthday.  I have gone there with friends for a casual lunch or dinner many times.  It’s just that I’ve also celebrated many birthdays and anniversaries there.  In my mind, it is a special place that provides just the right atmosphere for a special night out.  Opened in 1980 by Riccardo and Georgette Spaccarelli, it is very fine Italian dining at it’s best.  The Spaccarellis are known for their annual trips to Italy where they visit wine producers and make selections to offer with their food.  The entire meal is extremely authentic.   It’s also mouth watering and complex.  My favorite item on the menu is the Penna Strozzapreti.  Penna pasta with a sauce of cremini mushrooms, black olives, garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes in a light cream sauce that is then dusted with parmigiano reggiano.  That is comfort food to me and a real taste treat.  There are two dining rooms.  The inside room seats 55 and is very nice.   But my favorite, and where I always make it a point to dine, is the outside patio.  It seats 75 and is surrounded by high walls that in the summer are topped with flowers.  There are terra cotta tiled floors and several fountains.  The perimeter tables do have a roof over them and in cooler weather they have numerous heaters to keep you warm.  No, I don’t think you’d be able to dine out there in January.  But for most of the year you can.  It is not only comfortable, you will feel like you’ve gone to Italy.  Riccardo’s is just across the street from Gubanc’s and La Provence at 16035 Boones Ferry Rd.  You can find their menu and more information at their website,

There are other great restaurants in LO.  I’ll work on giving other recommendations in the future, but this is a good starting point for a new resident in the area.  And just like the long-time residents, you’ll go back again and again.

Featured Neighborhood: Forest Highlands

mt-hoodTwo weeks ago I posted information about Tryon Creek State Park and mentioned that there are two neighborhoods in Lake Oswego with trail access into the Park. One is First Addition and the other is Forest Highlands. In our archives you’ll find a neighborhood profile for First Addition, and now you will also find this one for Forest Highlands.

Forest Highlands is located on the North side of Lake Oswego. It’s Southern boundary is Country Club Rd. It’s Western boundary is Boones Ferry Rd. It’s Northern boundary is the city limits, and it’s Eastern boundary is First Addition. It is 1.198 square miles in size.

The most striking characteristic of the neighborhood is that the houses are mostly situated on large lots. To put this into perspective, the average density of the population of Lake Oswego is 3410 people per square mile. In Forest Highlands it is 1353 people per square mile. Fewer people and fewer homes means that the area feels spacious: not at all like a subdivision. It feels like an area of fine estates. That is not to say that all of the houses are mansions.

red-fox-hills-signThere is, in fact, a beautiful condominium development in Forest Highlands, Red Fox Hills. The condominiums are all townhouse style: they are attached on the sides but do not have neighbors above or below. Amenities include expansive lawns and gardens as well as a pool and a recreation facility. Current pricing ranges from $226,000 for a 2 bedroom, bath and a half unit, to $399,000 for a 3 bedroom, 2 full bath unit. All units have garages.

For detached homes the range is much more broad. The least expensive house currently listed is $439,800. Built in 1973, it has 1812 square feet with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. It’s on a cul-de-sac and the lot is .28 of an acre. The most expensive currently listed is $2,995,000. It was built in 2006 with 7582 square feet, 6 bedrooms and 5 and a half baths. It’s on 1.89 acres.

Besides large lots, another characteristic of the area is that many homes have Mt. Hood views. The entire neighborhood is located on a gentle slope that faces East. Not all houses have views, but a surprising number of them do.

Then I like the street names: Hideaway Ct, Tippecanoe Ct, Dapple Grey Ln, Pebble Beach Ct, Rockinghorse Ln. Who wouldn’t want to live on Hideaway Ct? Except for Livingood Lane over in the Palisades neighborhood, I think Tippecanoe Ct is my favorite street name in Lake Oswego.

tryon-creek-park-signAnd then there is that wonderful proximity to Tryon Creek Park. The entrance from Forest Highlands is at the turn about at the end of Boca Ratan Dr (right behind Red Fox Hills).

It’s just a very pretty area. As you know if you have been looking at real estate in Oregon, or if you live in Oregon, our land use laws have created fairly high-density housing in order to preserve more of our farms and forests. So when a client asks me to recommend homes with larger lots, lots as big as an acre, the first neighborhood that comes to my mind in Lake Oswego is Forest Highlands.

Furnace Gets Facelift

Lake Oswego's Iron Furnace in George Rogers Park

Lake Oswego’s historic Iron Furnace in George Rogers Park is set for a face lift, to be completed in June 2009.

This local treasure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is in need of some tender loving care. The exterior of the 44-foot high furnace is in decent shape, but the interior stonework is severely deteriorated.

Having been abandoned in 1885, the elements have taken their toll, and there is a danger of falling debris, therefore the furnace is fenced off and considered unsafe in its current condition. The restoration will replace grout, chink stones, bricks and basalt stones according to the City of Lake Oswego. The city anticipates that this work, plus a roof for protection, and compliance with current seismic standards will enable it to conduct regular pre-arranged group tours through the furnace structure.

The stone furnace was built by the Oregon Iron Company and began operating in August of 1867. With Oswego’s iron deposits, the company was the first manufacturer of iron on the West Coast, and the Oswego iron industry was reportedly the biggest manufacturing enterprise in Oregon during the nineteenth century. This amazing piece of Oregon history is said to be the only surviving iron furnace west of the Rocky Mountains.

The Lake Oswego City Council has awarded the $830,785 contract, to Pioneer Waterproofing, Inc. Requiring specialized skills, Pioneer Waterproofing fits the bill and has met the standard for brick and masonry restoration in conformance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. Pioneer Waterproofing has also completed impressive restoration projects which include Vista House, Crater Lake Lodge, Timberline Lodge, and the Portland Art Museum.