Respite on the River
By Lori McKean
Published: 09/28/2010  Updated: 06/20/2019
photo by Gary Hayes

"Location, location, location" is any realtor's mantra and, from that standpoint, the lounge at Astoria's Bridgewater Bistro is at the top of the market.

You can literally drink in the atmosphere. With spectacular, ever-shifting views extending up and down the Columbia River and across to the state of Washington, Astoria's Bridgewater Bistro is not just a spectacular location for a meal showcasing Northwest cuisine. With its view lounge, a great choice of tapas, specialty drinks and an extensive selection of wines, it's the perfect place to sip on a beverage, maybe nibble on a small plate offering and enjoy the panorama of weather, wildlife and marine activity on the river. The lounge includes both bar seating and several window front tables and bistro tables.

Bridewater is located on Astoria's riverwalk in the shadow of the towering Astoria-Megler Bridge. Its spectacularly renovated historic waterfront building was originally constructed in 1896 as the offices and repair shops for the Union Fish Cooperative Cannery (now the Cannery Pier Hotel) that is just steps away. The building's original planked wooden floors and exposed old-growth fir beams provide the framework for high windows open to the deck and the ever-present river.

Bridgewater Bistro is a great place to visit any time of year. My favorite time to visit is in the fall, when the river takes on a dramatic mood, casting wild waves and dusting the cloud-covered Willapa hills with sudden bursts of golden sun.

Restaurateurs Tony and Anne Kischner, who had operated the award winning Shoalwater Restaurant in Seaview, Washington, pulled up their roots and moved across the river to create Bridgewater Bistro in 2007. They also brought along their talented chef, Lynn (Red) Pelletier.

The wine list features over 250 bottles from the Northwest and other regions around the world, with nearly 30 wines by the glass. The inspired small plates menu features a number of light bites for any appetite - with seafood, meats, vegetarian, soups and salads. Options range from fresh anchovy bouqeurones (a version of a classic Spanish tapas dish made with local anchovies), to chili-lime prawns, steamed Willapa Bay Manila clams with preserved lemon and fresh herbs and spice-encrusted pork tenderloin with an orange-chipotle dipping sauce. Vegetarians might enjoy a trio of spreads, with housemade hummus, roasted red pepper-walnut and roasted garlic-olive tapenade served with pita fry bread.

Also offered is an array of tempting specialty drinks, including Brazilian Caipirinha, made with Brazilian rum, lime, ice and a touch of sugar. Tony, who is from Rio de Janeiro, recommends this refreshing drink with a Brazilian inspired dish, the "hearts of palm-mandarin orange salad."

Time on the river with good food and friends is always welcome. When I have the time to indulge, I take along my portable cribbage board, invite a friend and spend a welcome afternoon enjoying great food and wine, and trying not to get "skunked" at the Bridgewater.
Respite on the River