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: Westridge

westridge-sign1It’s time to showcase another of Lake Oswego’s wonderful neighborhoods, Westridge. Westridge is not very large.  According to, it is  just .238 of a square mile. It is bordered on the West by Bryant Rd, on the North by Royce Way, on the East by Cooks Butte Park, and on the South by Childs Rd. The population of the neighborhood is about 650 people, which translates to about 300 houses. It’s been my experience that people who live in Westridge love it. They will often move within the neighborhood rather than move out of it. So what’s the attraction?

First, it’s a very quiet area. There are no through streets that people use to get from one part of town to another. There are only neighborhood streets. So the only cars driving into the area are those of people who live there or their guests.

westridge-trail1Second, it has two terrific parks. Cooks Butte Park is on the Eastern edge of Westridge. It’s 42 acres of natural area. It’s what is called a passive park. In other words, it is left quite natural with soft-surface trails for hiking, but not a lot of development such as picnic structures or play grounds. It is best enjoyed for the trees, the trails, and the views. The top of the park has an elevation of 718′. It’s a wonderful spot to hike up to and then sit and watch the sunset. The other park is Westridge Park. It’s adjacent to Westridge Elementary School. It’s 2.2 acres and has a playground, a volleyball area, and a soccer/little league field. This is where you take the kids to burn off some energy and to enjoy a fine, sunny afternoon.

Last is the reputation of Westridge Elementary School. It is a very highly regarded school. While the schools in Lake Oswego all have good reputations, Westridge Elementary seems to stand out. It has a Distinguished Great Schools rating of 10 out of 10, according to the website

westridge-park1Housing in Westridge is all single family homes. There are no condominiums or apartment buildings. The pricing of what is currently for sale goes from a low of $498,500 for a 2670 square foot home with 4 bedrooms and 3 baths, to a high of $899,900 for a 3243 square foot home also with 4 bedrooms and 3 baths. I would say that the most basic criteria for the variation in pricing is whether the home has been updated or not. The neighborhood was mostly built in the 1970’s and 1980’s. So if the house still has original kitchen, baths, woodwork and windows, it is just not going to be worth as much as a house that is
all updated. I also know that there are homes in Westridge that easily exceed $1,000,000. It is just that none of the higher-end homes are currently for sale. The homes that are the most expensive often are on extremely large lots. On the South edge of Westridge are Barton and Hilltop roads. These streets have houses on acreage, and those properties more closely resemble estates.

westridge-house1I want to point out a house that Linda and I visited on Broker’s tour on May 5th, 9 Westminster Dr. This home is an excellent example of great value. Built in 1976, it has been extensively updated. The kitchen and baths are all recent. There is new paint and flooring. The house has 3814 square feet, with 4 bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths. Probably the most distinguishing feature is a wonderful sunroom that allows you to sit and enjoy the garden all year round. The landscaping is exceptional. There is extensive brick work in patios and outdoor entertaining areas. The yard has sprinklers and it looks to me as though a professional was involved in the layout. It is really wonderful. Priced at just $597,000 it is a stand out for value. I tell people that in this market it is both a beauty pageant and a price war. I think this house wins in both categories.

So it’s easy to see the attraction of the Westridge area. If you’d like information on homes currently for sale in Westridge, please contact either Linda or myself, and we would be happy to send you more information.

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.

What should I offer?

aressign1This is probably the single most common question that buyers universally ask. After all, you want to get the property for a fair price that is not too high, but you also have other concerns that you want to address. How do you frame the offer to cover all of your concerns?

The first step, in my opinion, is to have your Realtor prepare a market analysis for the neighborhood in which the home that you like is located. You want to know what other homes have sold for. The houses that are used should have sold as recently as possible, going no further back than 6 months. They also need to be as similar as possible in age, size, and condition. There will always be a bit of a range in the value. Houses that sell at the low end usually have issues with either condition or location. Houses at the high end are in top-notch condition with recent upgrades and remodeling. Then there is the average. An average home is clean and in nice condition but does not necessarily have completely new kitchens and baths, or perhaps has upgrades that are not high-end. The home you are considering: where does it fit in this range? Knowing what the neighborhood is selling for, and having an idea of where your prospective home fits in the range, will tell you what the market is proving to be the value for the home. This method allows you to know if a property is over priced or a smokin’ deal. You also want to take into consideration the market history on the property. If the house has been on the market for an extended period of time without dropping the price, then it is obviously over-priced and the seller will need to negotiate down to get it sold. If it’s been on the market a long time, but the current price is a recent and large reduction, perhaps the seller has already come down enough to have the house at a fair-market value. And a house that is newly listed is less likely to take a dramatically lower offer. I believe the best way to estimate value is to take the time to do the market analysis. It will tell you what the house is worth in the current economic climate.

My next advice to a buyer is to decide what is important to them, price or terms. If getting the house for the absolutely best price possible is the priority, then make the offer clean in other areas. Sure, come in 10% below the list price but don’t ask for new carpeting, a closing date after your son graduates from High School next spring, and not subject to the sale of your current home. If you come in low and then ask for the moon, most sellers will get mad and reject your offer. On the other hand, if you really do need to make your offer subject to the sale of your current home, then to get a seller to work with you, you are going to need to be more generous on price. I do believe that most sellers expect to negotiate and when presented with a reasonable offer will respond in kind and try to make a deal work. But do decide if your priority is price or terms and then frame your offer to accomplish your priority.

I also feel that before a buyer can make an offer, he or she needs to see enough homes to develop a sense for value. What does a $300,000 house look like? When you see enough of them, you start to get a feeling for the market and sense for value. You can tell when a house is in better than average condition and yet priced the same as the ones that are a mess. That is a good deal. That is the best way to buy. I think it takes looking at about 20 houses for a buyer to develop a good sense for value.

Also, make sure that you are working with a Realtor who knows the neighborhood. Homes in Beaverton sell under different circumstances than homes in North Portland. You need to be aware how individual areas of town are selling. And even within Lake Oswego there are high-demand locations that sell for more money and more quickly because of their location.

Your home is likely the largest purchase you will ever make. You want to buy the home that you love, but you also want to make a sound investment, and the first step is making the right offer.


viewpoint_a.JPGThe Palisades neighborhood is located on the South side of Lake Oswego, and is roughly the area bounded by: Stafford/McVey along the south & southeast, Southshore Rd. (down to the lake) along the north, Blue Heron, and then north & east of the Westridge Elementary School area.

park_a.JPGIt is a lovely neighborhood with a mix of housing ranging in list price currently from $489,900. to $5,950,000.

With this kind of spread, Palisades is known not only for its beauty and liveability, but for the diversity of its neighbors.

These same neighbors will be seen showing up in numbers to the local neighborhood association meetings and volunteering in droves at Palisades Elementary School and Palisades’ own Lakeridge High School.

golf_a.jpgAmenities include the Municipal Golf Course, parks, a dog park, community swimming pool, and the new “boutique” senior living center, “The Stafford”, which is situated across the street from the high school, three athletic fields and yet another dog park. This location, we are told, was intentionally chosen in order to meld the young and the elderly in a real community atmosphere where all phases of life are acknowledged and celebrated.


An especially delightful aspect of the Palisades neighborhood is the access to superior services just across the borderline streets of Stafford/McVey (therefore not technically in Palisades, but rather in the McVey-Southshore neighborhood).

Kids bike to Bellagio’s Pizza, shirts are picked up at the dry cleaners, dog-walkers congregate at Starbuck’s, lunches and dinners are wonderful at the Thai Curry-In-A-Hurry restaurant, birthdays and anniversaries are remembered with the help of three gift shops, and sunny days find everyone milling at the garden center.

All of it adds to the charm of this lush, green community by the lake with a distinctive ‘small town within a town’ feel.

coffee-nook_a.JPGOne of the best things about Palisades (in my humble opinion) is Palisades Market. This is a locally-owned market with some of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet making sure that you’ve found every little thing.

I shop there sometimes just to relax… I’m not kidding! I often joke to friends that the people who work at this wonderful place come from Planet Palisades, as they all seem to genuinely enjoy their work and treat customers like old friends. This is a kind of Neighborhood Central. You’ll find Lakeridge ‘Pacer’ apparel is displayed and sold proudly. Cans and bottles are donated in special receptacles by the crate-load with neighbors supporting the local school of their choice.

There is an adjoining post office annex & the Coffee Nook, a florist, a deli, wine shop, specialty meat shop, bakery and often dinner cooked & ready to be served for take-home by yet another friendly employee… a chef this time. The store is owned by Bob Lamb, Gale Casko, and Nick Goldsmith who is ever-present and always catering to customers’ needs.

palmkt_a.JPGOriginally a much smaller store it was located where the pizza parlor, restaurant and cleaners are now, moving in 1997 to its current location just up the block, and boasting 25,000 SF of friendly service.

Palisades Market had a rocky start, not owing to the fact that the site was originally a gravel pit, but rather to red tape that almost nixed the plans. True to form, neighbors rallied to support the new store, and Palisades, McVey-Southshore and Hallinan neighborhoods all now enjoy the fruits of that effort.

All in all, Palisades is a lovely place to live. Homes to suit any preference are to be found, and neighborhood character is in full bloom.

Lake Grove

apple-sculpture.jpgLake Grove is located West of Oswego Lake and East of Interstate 5. It includes a vibrant business district along Boones Ferry Rd with many shops, offices, and restaurants. The neighborhood was platted in 1912 and grew as a result of the Goodin Station train stop between Oswego and Tualatin. The old train station and market were long ago converted to a very charming residence and can still be found today. If I were trying to find a word to describe Lake Grove it would be “diverse”. There is just simply a very wide variety of housing and businesses in Lake Grove.

Housing is both modest and grand. On the modest end of the spectrum are condominiums starting at about $135,000 and single family homes starting at $289,900. On the grand end is a newly built home that is currently for sale for $1,790,000. That’s a pretty broad range of housing! Architectural styles include 1920’s bungalows, mid-century homes of the 1940’s and 1950’s, ranch-style homes from the 1960’s and 1970’s, and the more large-scale homes that became popular in the 1980’s and are still being built today.

With so much diversity Lake Grove has known for years that a plan was needed to be put in place to create some harmony. The Lake Grove Neighborhood Plan was adopted in 1998 to guide development of open spaces, historic and natural resources, economic development, housing, and transportation.lake-grove-street.jpg

The look of the neighborhood is characterized by large stands of very tall fir trees. Much of the area has a woodsy feel to it. Most residential lots are large. Some parts of Lake Grove are actually not incorporated into the City of Lake Oswego, but are considered to be in Clackamas County. The pockets of unincorporated land enjoy Lake Oswego addresses and city services such as water and schools, but are served by the County Sheriff rather than Lake Oswego police.

boones-ferry-rd.jpgThe City of Lake Oswego has spent the last decade doing a major overhaul of its commercial districts. Millenium Plaza Park and the Village Center at the East end of town were completed through this revitalization effort several years ago and have been wildly successful. A similar effort is just beginning in Lake Grove. The Lake Grove Village Center Plan calls for improved pedestrian access and extensive landscaping improvements. It has been in the planning stage for several years with actual construction scheduled to begin soon.

By far one of the great advantages to living in Lake Grove is the easy access to I-5 North to downtown Portland or South to Salem, Hwy 217 West to Beaverton, and Hwy 205 East and North to Mt Hood and the Portland airport. There are two large shopping areas nearby: Washington Square and Bridgeport Village. It is just simply a very convenient place to live.

So if you like a neighborhood that is not a subdivision, where there is a mix of houses and house styles, where there are large lots and big trees, and where you have easy access to shopping, restaurants, and the Westside’s main highways, Lake Grove just may be the neighborhood for you.

First Addition

first-addition.jpgFirst addition is one of the Portland area’s most charming and desirable places to live. It was platted in 1888 and is actually Lake Oswego’s second oldest neighborhood. (The oldest is the historic old town area near George Roger’s Park). The neighborhood was the first growth outside of Old Town as the economic focus of the town shifted from the production of iron and steel to the pursuit of recreation. The neighborhood has about 30 blocks of historic homes. A tour of homes will allow you to see Gothic, Craftsman, Colonial Revival, Vernacular, and English Cottage styles.

One of the great features of the location is that it is a short walk to many of Lakelo-library.jpg Oswego’s most popular attractions. The neighborhood hosts the Lake Oswego Public Library and the Adult Community Center. It is also adjacent to the Village Center with its boutiques and restaurants, as well as Millenium Plaza Park which is the location of the Farmer’s Market. As if that weren’t enough, directly North of the neighborhood is Tryon Creek State Park with its miles of trails for hiking, jogging, and even horse back riding.

First Addition has a very active Neighborhood Association that works to preserve the historic flavor of the neighborhood, to keep the area pedestrian friendly, and to preserve the many large trees. There is a 100+ year old sugar maple tree on the corner of 3rd and C Avenues that is beyond spectacular when its leaves turn orange in the fall.

adult-community-center.jpgAdding to the convenience of living in First Addition is the fact that it also contains Lake Oswego’s Tri-Met transit center with bus to downtown Portland and the rest of the metropolitan area.

In 2006 Cottage Living Magazine named First Addition one of the ten best cottage communities in the United States. It raved about the quaint homes, the easy walk to attractions, and the “jewel box gardens winking from behind picket fences”.

First Addition is an awesome place to live that features quaint and historic homes along with easy convenience to many great attractions. When you buy a home in First Addition, you are not just buying a house, you are buying a lifestyle.

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