Silver Grille Gives A Winning Bite

Early in the morning Chef Nizlek comes into the kitchen to prepare almost 100% locally sourced dishes for his diners at Silver Grille aptly named after the historic town of Silverton Oregon. Jeff sources local ingredients that make sense to his dishes that embrace cooking formulas which exude his culinary confidence. Starting off his pedigree at Culinary Institute of America’s Hyde Park, NY location Jeff then spent years in Switzerland and France taking his trained skills to the “mad” level.  Once back in the United States his European experience allowed him to refine his own food style and it put him exactly where he wants to be – in his kitchen – in Silverton, Oregon – in a repurposed historical building.

Stepping inside Silver Grille guests are immediately greeted by a gorgeous dark, mature, library style bar, an edifice that hunkers down in the tiny room like a gloomy cloaked figure in a movie script lounge. This centerpiece could command a much larger space and here it’s the perfect spot to settle in and get lost as you watch the action unfold for dinner service. For those who are too intimidated to expose their underbellies to this supreme wooded backdrop they might take hold of one of the other two tiny taller tables in the space, but we have come for dinner and so we move through the bar and past a bookcase of wines that will bring an upward curvature to the mouth for some fortuitous diner.  Stepping through the arch on your right you might notice a secret whisper of bright light from behind the slotted swinging doors betraying where your food will be prepared. You might catch the glimpse of a grill or the chefs hand with a utensil on the way to pot, otherwise you arrive in the dining room where comfy chairs, open exposed brick walls, glamorously lit chalk boards, local artwork, soft flickering candle light and white papered tables wait patiently for dining guests. Soft music makes you think this could also be a romantic destination for any number of lovers who want to get lost in this little dining room.


Jeff and wife Naomi are passionate about what they do and manage their own garden which largely inspires the greens, sauces and soups on the menu. While Naomi fine tunes a much lauded wine list and manages the front of the house and bar, Jeff sources all the proteins from friends and farmers “just down the road.” The menu isn’t gutsy or dare devilish, but it is straight ahead addictive, flavors bursting from “long hours on the stove sauces” that would inspire even the most excruciatingly boring palate. Soups like the mushroom sweep the tongue akin to a goose settling on a feather bed, resplendent, warm and refulgent, but not heavy. The Naughty Librarian, a tossed mix of garden greens, blue cheese crumbles, hazelnut croquant gets topped with sherry vinaigrette. Just when you think it can’t get much better you bite in to the addition of pickled pears and pause to ponder just how it is this chef is here in this town. Such talent isn’t often found in places undiscovered. Jeff also has an expanded knowledge of cooking healthy so you’ll be disappointed in the lack of “bacon makes everything better” in every dish, although it peeks in here and there as more of a need for salt or texture than for that blissful taste of fat. But for a good night of eating, we find meat takes center stage and at Silver Grille it is delivered with precision on the plate, some dishes evoke magazine photo shoots.


It’s that kind of care in presentation that continues to make diners pay attention to the entire dining experience here. Instead of serving beef fifteen ways, Jeff serves it one way on most days, sure there might be beef added to a pasta dish, but why mess around if you can do something so well that everyone will have that “good enough to grunt” experience without lamenting for hours over a menu. The same goes for pork, chicken and fish all surrounded by tongue gratifying accompaniments like Yukon gold potato gnocchi with a 62.5 degree egg and fresh herbs. For those into the “vegetarian thingy” asparagus accompanied by handmade ravioli might push the protein off the plate. Filled with spinach, Willamette Valley asiago and house made ricotta, no less, it guarantees at least one contented sigh.


In a state that serves up ten new “best of” lists a day Silver Grille evokes a whimsical side to the culinary field that scarcely gets any attention. Jeff & Naomi just get it right without a lot of fanfare or high fives although Silver Grille is oft mentioned as a destination location. Having an OpenTable best of rating paired with a Top Rated Wine List reveals that foodies in the know eat here. A mere 40 minutes from Portland is one of Oregon’s secluded treasures, but at this one you can forget your sneakers and just take your appetite.

Chef Jeff Nizlek

Chef Jeff Nizlek

Reservations are strongly recommended by phoning 503- 873-8000. Not open daily. More Information

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