Known as the locals spot where visitors can seriously spy Willamette Valley winemakers grabbing a wood-fired pizza and a cold pint (hey, it’s a palate cleanser), Red Hills Market has been on the Dundee, Oregon, restaurant scene since March 3, 2011.
That date is important because owners Jody and Michelle Kropf opened a second location exactly eight years later, to the day. On March 3, 2019, Red Hills Kitchen took over where John Gorman’s Bless Your Heart Burger left off, on the ground floor of the stylish Atticus Hotel in McMinnville.
“Two years ago, Atticus asked but we felt it was the wrong timing,” Chef Jody Kropf says. “We loved them and loved the building and I felt I missed an opportunity. When it came around a second time, I told my wife, ‘I’m ready to do this.’”
Whereas Red Hills Market focuses more on casual foods like soups, sandwiches, salads and pizzas, Red Hills Kitchen features higher-end offerings like seared sea scallops and charred pork shoulder next to comfort food such as The Atticus Hotel Burger.
Keeping with the flame-centric theme, Red Hills Kitchen employs a charcoal-burning Josper oven and as many menu items as possible see some time over the coals. Chef Kropf is a fan of Argentinian cooking and thinks everything tastes a little better when it’s next to fire. He also believes in the art of hospitality, and a wisp of smoke, for him, is reminiscent of a barbecue where everyone is welcome and no one leaves hungry.
All this talk of grilling might make vegetarians think they’re not welcome. Fear not, produce-loving patrons. Kropf thought of you with greens-of-the-moment like grilled asparagus, charcoal-roasted beet salad and a wild mushroom risotto. The chef and his team also aim for at least one vegan and one gluten-free item for every meal of the day. Keeping them on track are gluten-free chef de cuisine, Andrew Garrison, and Michelle Kropf, who has the gluten-intolerant Celiac disease.
“We’re going to do whatever we can to bring them a great experience,” Kropf says of his gluten-free patrons’ experiences. “It’s cool to see somebody light up who hasn’t had a donut in 10 years and it’s a really good donut.” A teaser to their dessert menu.
Obviously, food is a focus at Red Hills, but the heavy wine menu is a nod to the Kropfs own foray into winemaking with a small vineyard and their own label, Tractor & Vine. From his days at the Heathman Hotel in Portland, one of Chef Kropf’s big goals is for Red Hills’ bar to be a neighborhood gathering spot, like an old-school lobby bar.
They’re already seeing familiar faces as they preside over a curated cocktail menu and play with nuances like brining their rosemary, utilizing pieces of charcoal and creating their own shrubs. An RHK Bloody Mary is a thing of beauty where they’re taking onions and garlic tomatoes, putting them in the Josper oven and cooking them down.
Keeping in step with the details of the Atticus Hotel, Red Hills Kitchen was designed to be a seamless transition for guests rather than separate entities with vastly different personalities. Edison light bulbs, rich woods, inspired textiles, heavy wood beams and plenty of built-ins from the kitchen to the bar to the small market at the entrance are all intentional and could, potentially, be found in the rooms throughout the attached boutique property.
With seating for 44 inside and forthcoming outdoor dining to accommodate as many as 24, Red Hills Kitchen is a bountiful option for breakfast, lunch, dinner or cocktail hour. For folks overnighting at the Atticus, there’s also room service, and the Bucket of Mini Doughnuts is a game changer for late-night snacking.