Okta Bottles the Richness of Oregon’s Wine Country

The richness of the Willamette Valley coalesces in a warm trio of dining rooms where Michelin-star chef Matthew Lightner offers seasonal lineups of inventive regional fare.

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Location: McMinnville, Oregon

Designer: Hacker

On Offer: Tucked into the Tributary Hotel on the main street of the heart of Oregon’s wine country, Okta harvests the richness of local lands for a tasting menu that could only be created here. Hacker oriented a trio of dining spaces around a basal erratic that arrived in the surrounding Willamette Valley some 10,000 years ago via the Missoula Floods and anchored them with an open kitchen and wood-burning fireplace. Hand-troweled walls echo the cozy clouds in the skies above the nearby regenerative farm providing Okta’s produce while the dining room’s white oak banquettes and custom tables were also made locally. The downstairs Cellar Bar grounds its offerings in leather furnishings and terracotta tiles glazed in burnt sugar for a sweet touch. 

Standout Amenities: Chef Matthew Lightner got his start at Portland’s Castagna before working at Noma and earning two Michelin stars at New York’s Atera, so Okta’s tasting menu is fittingly somewhat of a homecoming. Douglas fir and local lichen often figure in the seasonal-shifting lineups, as do potions cooked up in the restaurant’s fermentation lab. But Lightner’s dishes often take flight, like candied buckwheat cereal formed into flower pistils, and mounds of morels infused with alder leaf tea, charred over hot coals in tribute to Indigenous practices of controlled fires. The main dining room offers the full gamut of ten or so courses, while the downstairs Cellar Bar edits the lineup to five or six. Both may be accompanied by wine curator Ron Acierto, with pours of Oregon pinot noir and chardonnay served in handblown Zalto glassware.

All photography by George Barberis.

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