eugene needs a gelato shop…not!

I was excited to read this morning about a new retail space opening far, far away from me in North Eugene. Then I put on my curmudgeon hat. Eugene, declared the owner of one of the new establishments, needs a gelato shop!

Actually, Eugene needs a gelato shop like that old saying about a fish and a bicycle. Eugene most emphatically does not need a gelato shop. We have at least two places that sell wonderful gelato, Sweet Life Pâtisserie, one of Eugene’s greatest treasures, and the upscale Market of Choice on W. 29th. Sweet Life’s gelato bar sells another of Eugene’s treasures, Coconut Bliss, the vegan, coconut-based iced confection that is the only ice cream substitute I’ll eat. And let’s not forget that Eugene also boasts some of the best fresh ice cream in the country, Prince Pücklers, milord of the ünnecessary ümlaut.

So enough already.

We don’t need another Pan-Asian restaurant either, another promised establishment. Spare us the indignity of another Paul Fleming Chang’s. Please. In fact, we don’t need another Pan-Anything. Seriously, does any small town in American have *more* Pan-Asian and Pan-Latin restaurants than we do? (I, for one, am kind of excited that the owners of El Vaquero, Red Agave and Asado are thinking of selling — just to stop more expensive Pan-Latin restaurants from propagating.)

You want upscale? How about a great, Japanese-run, experienced Japanese-cheffed sushi bar that serves fresh sushi. Not Pan-Asian. No Pad Thai sashimi. No bulgogi miso soup with sweet-n-sour pork nuggets. I’d even suggest holding the rolled-up abominations of seven kinds of fish wrapped in fake crab, doused in sweet sauce and deep-fried that have become popular at American sushi bars, but then everyone would shush my crazy talk.

Or branch out, if you don’t think the Eugene crowd can handle sushi alone (and newsflash: they can). Mix sushi with izakeya food, if you must. Japanese bar cuisine. It’s big in places like San Francisco now and totally delicious, totally authentic (basically) and simple food: boiled dishes, grilled dishes, deep-fried dishes involving just a few ingredients.

Or how about a Szechuan restaurant? It would be the first time a chili pepper set foot in Eugene. Someone who knew how to make authentic, beautiful, simple, non-MSG-poisoned Chinese food. I mean, dudes, that Fuchsia Dunlop cookbook has been out for AGES.

Or Belgian. Honestly. We have great beer and seafood and local beef sources. Belgian bistro food. Get us out of that repetitive French mode — and this is from someone who truly loves French food, but enough already. Surely someone knows how to make simple french fries that aren’t frozen and/or soggy here. Yeah, yeah, I know you like tater tots. Deal.

I won’t even suggest Ethiopian, but damn, Eugene needs an Ethiopian restaurant. We have to drive to Portland to get it. But I think it’s just too exotic for Eugene, unfortunately. And the ingredients would be just about impossible to keep stocked. So never mind.

But Persian! REAL Persian. We have a Middle Eastern grocery store now, Pomegranates, neare the Southetowne Shoppes. I’ve never met a kebab I didn’t like. They’re simple and easy to make — even kids like them. Meat served with rice and a tomato and cucumber salad. And tons of yogurt. We have a local yogurt company, Nancy’s, for goodness sake! Please!

Or just as yogurty and even less exotic and politically charged — Greek! Roasted fish with lemon and olives, variety rotating daily. Beautiful little dips. Lamb. Soups. I’m thinking Baltimore’s The Black Olive (who catered our Baltimore wedding party, thanks again to my husband’s parents!), and their grilled fresh fish, served simply with lemon and olive oil. Oh, and the desserts. God. So. Good.

Or salad. Big, huge beautiful salads that you can buy without dodging children and hot wings. I’m thinking of Café Intermezzo in Berkeley here. It’s not that hard, really. Yes — a café that sells hand-tossed salads with simple ingredients, simple sandwiches on Metropol baguettes, and perfectly prepared coffee drinks. That’s what Eugene needs.

We’re not all suckers hungry for a theme restaurant or something that’s supposed to be classy. We want good food, a variety of options, ethnic food prepared with the intention of authenticity, at least, and simple deliciousness. We’ll pay for that.


12 thoughts on “eugene needs a gelato shop…not!

  1. Michelle 11 February 2008 / 11:16 am

    Eugenia, this post is great!! I know I’m “late” on commenting here because you posted it a long time ago, but I have to completely agree with you. We’ve long wished that Eugene had an Ethiopian restaurant. And don’t forget the gelato at Perugino too…


  2. Gelato Ingredients 25 February 2008 / 5:21 pm

    I stumbled upon your site doing some research on gelato and this post was hilarious (hope you meant it to be a little and that I’m not putting my foot in my mouth).

    I hope you get something good!


  3. Eugenia 25 February 2008 / 5:27 pm

    Thanks, GI! I try to be hilarious, only succeed a small percentage of the time. Always room for improvement. ;)

    But my plea is serious, and since no one is vociferously and regularly complaining online about restaurants in Eugene, I thought I would.


  4. Lisa Battles 29 August 2008 / 11:17 am

    I agree that Sweet Life Patisserie is a fine place to find gelato, not to mention just about anything else sweet you could possibly crave. I checked it out on a tip last month and was so glad I did. Besides the gelato, their cookie sandwiches with the chocolate mousse in the middle are absolutely divine.


  5. Max Von Sydow 1 October 2008 / 10:19 pm

    Actually–Lago Blu Gelato has 36 flavors from the same vendor that supplies Sweet Life. So–roughly 4 times the number of good flavors that Sweet Life has. If you weren’t so pre-emptively grumpy maybe you could try a few new flavors…and perhaps support a small locally owned business?

    Myopic reviews such as yours don’t help our sleepy little town at all. Eugene needs more restaurants–I think that we could both agree on that. So why the vitriol?

    By the way–they *are* opening a sushi bar at Crescent Village…and its not a chain.

    have a nice day.


    North Eugene foodie


  6. Eugenia 2 October 2008 / 5:28 am

    NEF — I would *love* to see more creative, fantastic restaurants in town. I’m glad that you mentioned that Lago Blu has more flavors than Sweet Life; that way people into such things can learn they’re offering something new, thanks.

    I am indeed myopic, but the good news is my glasses prescription got better this year for the first time ever. I take it as a sign of good things. Or just getting old.

    As such, I disagree with your claim that reviews such as mine are myopic or bad for “our sleepy little town.” I think it’s particularly necessary for us to write down our opinions and share ’em just like they do in every other metropolis. We’re the what, second, third largest town in Oregon and a major college town? We aren’t sleepy, and I’m not a PR person to drum up business for any place that hangs its shingle. One of the problems with Eugene is that people don’t complain in our print media about the restaurant situation, something we all know is a problem. So I’m willing the take the bullet.

    And I’m glad, too, that someone cares enough to disagree with me. I like talking about it. :)


  7. Max Von Sydow 2 October 2008 / 11:57 am

    Eugenia–thanks for your reply. As you said–we can agree to disagree. :>

    It *did* rub me the wrong way that you were being negative against new locally owned eateries, especially in North Eugene where we DESPERATELY need them. And you were doing this at the same time that you were lamenting that we did not have certain types of other ethnic fare–which I wholeheartedly agree with. I guess we can debate whether or not this is a contradiction.. ; >

    I think that we *are* in a sleepy town–I mean–where can you go to find good food (or drinks) in this town past 9pm? Eugene shuts down early–even on Friday and Saturday nights.


    North Eugene Foodie


  8. Lago Lady 2 October 2008 / 12:16 pm

    Ciao Eugenia! Stumbled across your blog…cute, a bit opinionated, but if you aren’t, then what’s the point of a blog? I’m the proud co-owner of the gelateria in question…we are huge fans of Sweet Life and yes, we do use the same gelato maker, Palozzolo’s Artisan Gelato. We also sell Sweet Life pastries in our shop. Have you checked us out yet? It’s so much more than just an overwhelming display of gelato…our cafe interior (counters, display cases, espresso station) was imported from Italy and we have created a very upscale-Euro vibe. The espresso we make is roasted by an Italian family in Seattle…a departure from the funky-crunchy Eugene coffee shops that have dominated the scene for the past 10-15 years.

    I encourage you and your reader fans to come visit us, taste some gelato and espresso, and let us know what you think!

    –Lago Lady


  9. Eugenia 2 October 2008 / 1:23 pm

    Thanks for getting the word out, Lago Lady. There’s always room in my blog for that, and good luck to you!


  10. Lago Lady 2 October 2008 / 2:16 pm

    Grazie, Eugenia – and you have something in common with my partner; she was a food critic for the Houston Press (think Eugene Weekly but with a much bigger readership, and budget)before she moved to Eugene. Here’s a gripe for you: Why can’t Eugene newspapers pay for REAL food reviews? There is no substitute for sending an anonymous (hopefully experienced) food writer out on a mission to find both sublime and terrible eateries in our area. Hmph!!

    –Lago Lady


  11. clayton 9 December 2008 / 6:07 pm

    As Michelle indicated, you should try the gelato at Perugino. I think it’s much better than Palozzolo’s Artisan Gelato. Gelato certainly benefits from freshness. Older gelato tends to be icier, which is no good, and I think it looses some of it’s fluffiness (for lack of a better term) over time. Perugino makes their Gelato in town and their flavors are more limited, but tastier and certainly of a better quality than any I’ve seen or tasted at sweet life.

    Also, I love your blog. I just moved here from NYC, and have been struggling to please my palette. I’ve already used your blog a number of times as a guide. Thanks and keep up the good work.


  12. Eugenia 10 December 2008 / 10:10 am

    Thanks, Clayton, you must be experiencing severe culture shock. Welcome to Eugene!


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