Belly was undoubtedly my favourite restaurant we visited on our West Coast roadtrip. It may, in fact, be one of my favourite restaurants ever.
A cute, casual spot in the little town of Eugene, Oregon it was a repeat-visit from the last roadtrip we took. I remembered/salivated over the thought of its food for the years in between. It's that good. We grabbed an outdoor table on a warm August evening and got down to business.
I love a few things about Belly. Firstly, I obviously love the name. Secondly, I love the casual, share-plate style and the atmosphere it encourages. Thirdly, I love the prices. They really, really don't match up with the food (in a good way, of course).
Bruschetta with local tomatoes, fresh basil, creamy burrata and the sweetest, most in-season corn came first. I don't think a dish could scream 'summer' any more than this. You could truly taste the sunshine in the sweet, succulent veggies and the soft, ripe burrata contrasted perfectly with the crisp bread.
Short stacks came next. Savory pancakes topped with pork confit, spiced pequillo pepper jelly, chives and sour cream.
Oh... my... god. This may just be the best dish ever. Words truly don't do its deliciousness justice. We ordered one, gobbled and squabbled over the last bite, and then ordered another.
The pork was perfectly-seasoned, fall apart-tender, melt-in-your-mouth goodness. The pancakes were just fluffy enough and the pequillo jelly was spicy-sweet and a perfect accompaniment to the tangy sour cream and sharp chives. The plates, needless to say, were scraped cleaner than ever before.
Literally, this may be heaven in a dish. Try it before your time is up.
On the contrast, tuna melt sliders with a side summer vegetable salad followed the short stack and was the only lack-luster dish for me. A little bland, a little soggy, a little cold. Super surprising for such a good spot. Skip 'em.
Luckily, these babies were next. Bacon-wrapped, blue cheese smeared figs with pistachios and apple cider gastrique. They were sticky, sweet, salty, crispy, indulgent bundles of goodness. Something I'll definitely try to recreate in the future. Just as soon as I get my hands on some 'apple cider gastrique'...
Mac and blue cheese with cauliflower was the next in line. Need I really say more? Sharp, tangy, creamy, impossibly rich and bubbly and topped with air-light croutons. Basically, all you could ever really ask for in a dish. I may have hoarded this one all to myself.
Yep... totally did.
Seared sea scallops were served with perfectly-crisped new potatoes and salsa verde. Juicy and plump, their freshness carried this simple, flavourful dish home.
A salad with grilled watermelon, arugula, spiced pepitas, chevre and saba (otherwise known as "cooked grape juice" made from a sweet, unfermented syrup of grapes) was the final dish of the night. It was light, flavourful, super-refreshing and almost dessert-like with the addition of super-ripe watermelon. The perfect summer salad (I know, I know, it's November - hopefully this transports you to warmer days) and end to a fantastic meal.
Belly's dessert menu, below, really speaks for itself. Please note the ice cream sandwich.
Sadly, we were persuaded by the crazed human below to hit up the infamous Voodoo Donuts next door instead, which had been distracting him with its bright pink sign all meal long. Voodoo's bacon maple donut is, after all, pretty famous with Oregononians. For good reason.
Ah well, always next time. And there will definitely, definitely be a next time.
30 East Broadway, Eugene, Oregon
*Some dishes featured may be seasonal and not currently available on the menu. I have no doubt that Belly's fall/winter menu is equally as good.