Lunch with friends at Word of Mouth

I have a friend visiting from southern California. He's the kind of guy who parties hard, stays up late, and recharges with a hearty breakfast of classic diner fare. The other day I decided to introduce him to the culinary delights at Word of Mouth Neighborhood Bistro- my new favorite place for breakfast and lunch.

And I'm not alone. Every time I eat there the dining room is packed, with at least ten people waiting patiently for a table of their very own.

Indeed, Word of Mouth seems to be the darling of Salem's dining scene. They've received lots of good press, plus their customers are taking this "word of mouth" suggestion to heart. I hear people talking about the bistro often. But it's not just because of the name. The food happens to be very, very good.

We arrived at 2pm. As usual the dining room was full, so we waited about ten minutes for a table for four to become available. Our charming waitress greeted us, alerted us to the specials, and gave us a few minutes to look over the menu.

I decided on the Cheesy BLT with a cup of Clam Chowder ($9.95), while my three guests chose Creme Brulee French Toast with two eggs and bacon ($10.50), the Prime Rib French Dip ($11.50), and Biscuits and Gravy ($9.95), respectively.

Fifteen minutes later, we were digging in! The Cheesy BLT was served on chewy, grilled sourdough bread from Cascade Baking Company. The sandwich included thick-cut bacon, tomato, lettuce, and melted cheddar cheese. While the local sourdough is good in theory, it doesn't quite work in this sandwich. "Salem Sourdough" is a little too dense for a grilled sandwich, and is best enjoyed in simpler form such as toast. Frankly, the BLT was difficult to eat.

It was the clam chowder that really stole the show. The chowder featured finely-chopped clam, potato, onion, herbs, and a healthy amount of black pepper. Flavor was spot-on, and the creamy texture of the soup left me wanting more than just a 6-ounce cup. This is the best clam chowder I've ever tasted. And I've had some damn fine clam chowders at well-known locations on the Oregon coast, in Seattle and Portland.

My dining partners each enjoyed their meal. I heard rave reviews on the French Toast and the Biscuits and Gravy.

Word of Mouth Neighborhood Bistro
open every day 7am to 3pm
140 17th St. Salem


Julie said...

It's good to hear that someone is putting that site to good use! I live just about three blocks from there, and have seen various coffee shops and bistros come and go in that cute location, but Word of Mouth has been the only one to really draw some activity. I always see people in there now... if my family could afford to eat out, we'd probably be heading over there frequently ourselves.

Chuck Bradley said...

It was prudent of this contributor to go well past the lunch hour. The food and service cannot be faulted. I ate here several times before giving up on the place. The waits are absurdly long. They do not accept reservations. To me, 30 minutes to an hour is way too long to wait to be seated. Fortunately, they do not need my business.

Nate Rafn said...

Agreed, good to see a quality chef-owned business thrive!

Nate Rafn said...

Chuck, I wouldn't write them off for something like that. You can't fault a small business for being popular. The only way to avoid those long lines is for Word of Mouth to move to a larger facility, which is easier said than done. Plus, I have no problem waiting 30 minutes for great food!

Chuck Bradley said...


I respect your right to value your own time.

I ask for nothing more, or less, in return.

Bon appetit!

Anonymous said...

Chuck, if you live nearby and don't like the wait, get takeout. Just call it in and it'l be ready in a flash. It is always very quick and the same quality/quantity as dine-in. We do it every weekend. We live a block away and love the proximity to what I (and many others) consider the best restaurant in town.

Chuck Bradley said...

Anon, Great suggestion! I like the food, just not the wait. I'll definitely take your advice.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree somewhat about the bread. I had a grilled sandwich the last time I was in for lunch (about a month or so ago) and my only complaint was that the bread was way too greasy for my taste. I ate half and took the other half home for my hubby, who thought it was perfect. Next time I would ask for less or no butter on my grilled sandwich. I don't remember thinking that the bread was too thick or tough though.