It was a gorgeous late summer day in southern Oregon, and I was driving north, feeling weary. Eugene was on the horizon and I decided to find a peaceful place to stay, but I felt like something other than the typical hotel. At a rest stop I searched the internet for a bed and breakfast, and stumbled upon the Campbell House Inn & Restaurant.
Upon arrival, I was taken with the location and appearance. The Campbell House is nestled on a bluff just above all the shops and restaurants in the heart of Eugene and close to the University of Oregon. Surrounded by serene gardens, under old trees, dotted with wrought iron benches and wooden lawn chairs, sat the beautiful historic Victorian house, now converted into a restaurant and inn.
My visit began with the warmest welcome from the owner, Brett, who also happens to be the executive chef. After a brief personal tour, I was shown to the Eva suite, a favorite among returning guests. Eighteen rooms are available in the Main and Carriage houses. And in the center of the Campbell House is its restaurant–complete with a broad fireplace, reading room and antique decor.
After some emails in my room, I headed down the curving staircase to enjoy dinner. Seated at a table with a view over Eugene through antique windows, I browsed the beer list and ordered a glistening IPA — another golden pint of Oregon brew. I was alone, but other couples were chatting and dining, dressed up and obviously out on a special occasion. Then Brett came from the kitchen and dropped off my beer before visiting another table with a bottle of wine. He spoke with the couple for a moment, talking like old friends about wine, all while deftly uncorking and pouring their glasses. I could tell Brett was that kind of guy, the owner and chef that loved to greet and meet his guests. Then he came and sat with me, filling my glass with his latest regional red wine. We perused his ever-changing menu together, and I could see it was ripe with local and international flavors. Brett told me about his world travels and experiences with food, and I told him some of mine. A few minutes later, dinner was served along with another bottle of red wine. Brett and I clinked glasses and I enjoyed my delicious meal before heading to the Ducks basketball game.
The next morning, I headed downstairs again to the restaurant. Most overnight guests had already eaten, so I would enjoy my exquisite breakfast alone in the beautiful dining room. While I waited, I looked out across the rolling green hills of the Willamette Valley twisting through and around Eugene. I poured some cream in my steaming coffee, raising it to drink. But halfway to my mouth, I looked out at the window again, and gave my cup a little lift, my own silent toast to Oregon.