Chefs, bakers, and pub cooks in Coos Bay, Oregon, raise the bar on local eats. By working in conjunction with local farmers, they provide the best ingredients in their creative, tempting, and innovative dishes. This effort is generating success for the entire culinary community. Numerous establishments buy and sell products from one another and collaborate to stimulate additional economic growth. Owner/Chef Eoghain O’Neill at Restaurant O is one of these participating chefs.
The Early Days
Chef O’Neill, born to an Irish father and Trinidadian mother, knew that he wanted to become a chef at an early age. Although both parents boasted successful careers in the medical field, he found joy watching his mum in the kitchen. At 17 he left home to pursue his dream of becoming a chef and graduated summa cum laude from hotel and catering studies at Canterbury College in southeast England.
In just a short time Chef O’Neill began to work in Normandy, France, for the Michelin-star Restaurant La Manoir De Barville. Later he mastered the art of classical cooking while working at The Savoy Hotel in London. Eager to learn more, he worked for celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay at Gordon Ramsay’s Aubergine and three-star Gordon Ramsay’s Royal Hospital Road. Here he discovered the art of highlighting the details of each plate.
As Chef O’Neill’s culinary expertise grew, he learned more about French, German and Asian cuisine by catering and working in different hotels and various three-star Michelin restaurants. With an impressive portfolio behind him and mentorships with several renowned chefs, Chef O’Neill opened his flagship Restaurant O in Alghero in Sardinia, Italy, in 2013.
The Restaurant Concept
The original Restaurant O earned recommendations in the Michelin guide, and in December 2017 Chef O’Neill opened Restaurant O in Coos Bay, Oregon. This restaurant boasts incredible views of the bay, tasty artisan cocktails, and delicious gourmet cuisine. Delectable tapas and tacos are served at the bar, bistro cuisine shines at the open kitchen tables downstairs, and refined, personalized tasting menus grace the upstairs dining room. Split into three distinct sections, the restaurant caters to various tastes and budgets. Customers need only to convey their preferences, and the customized courses will delight.
The Stunning Design
Chef O’Neill’s wife Kariktan Cruz is a devout foodie from the Philippines, a practicing pediatrician, and a talented designer. The stunning upstairs décor at Restaurant O is her creation. She curated bronze sculptures from Ken Ayers and copper and multi-metal leaf pieces from Johanna Cielo and Karin Richardson. These artists design gorgeous beach-like pieces that bring the outside indoors.
The Dining Experience
My daughter Brittney and I recently dined at Restaurant O where we enjoyed a nine-dish tasting menu in the exquisite upstairs venue. The options change daily based on what is fresh and available. Our multi-course dinner was spectacular. We began with a Chinook salmon tartare with bok choy and a cilantro emulsion. The dish was clean and fresh and prepared us for the next treat, a trio of foie gras. The first was molded and poached in liquid while wrapped in a kitchen towel, “torchon lemon” with vanilla gel. The second was pan-fried with a quince and lavender compote, and the third was served warm and whipped resembling a cappuccino. Some people don’t care for foie gras, but Chef O’Neill does a magnificent job with this delicacy.
The burrata Caprese arrived smoked with cherry wood, and the chef’s platter of mixed seafood was tasty and artfully displayed. The tender sous-vided filet mignon with pinot noir jus was smoked and under glass, and the lobster gratin with asparagus risotto was rich and creamy.
The last three dishes took on a sweet note, beginning with a delightful trio of desserts on one plate; a tiramisu, a Baileys flavored mousse, and a light mandarin cello with strawberry. The trio was followed by a deconstructed lemon tart with a raspberry sorbet that was both tangy and sweet. The final plate consisted of a chocolate and cardamon bar, a white chocolate and coconut volcano, and a vanilla tuile with mango sorbet.
Coos Bay offers diners a plethora of delicious dining options. Check out each of the three dining venues at Restaurant O, and be sure to spend at least one evening savoring Chef O’Neil’s tasting menu upstairs. Plan your trip to the beach for several days to indulge in the endless possibilities.