We are writing in response to a letter in the Nov. 12 issue of the Observer, written by a visitor who was disappointed when asked to leave a local restaurant due to the chef/owner's allergy to pungent perfumes.
We average two weekend visits per month to Long Beach, and we always schedule one of our meals at The Port Bistro. We find the food to be some of the finest anywhere, comparable to meals we have enjoyed at the great restaurants across the country.
It is unfortunate the writer was asked to leave the restaurant due to Chef Larry's allergies. We were at the restaurant once when one of his guests caused an allergic reaction. It was no small problem; he had trouble breathing, turned bright red, and his eyes were watering. In our observation, the staff were as unhappy about asking a guest to leave and return as the guest was about missing out on a great dinner. We thought it was handled as gently and professionally as could be.
At the other extreme, we once sat next to a table of eight women from Ocean Park who had specifically washed and rinsed before visiting the restaurant so as not to have any issues. They treated it as part of the fun of a ladies' night out.
To clarify the measures that the staff takes to avoid these situations, a sign is posted prominently at all entrances that reads, "Please note: our chef is allergic to chemical fragrances. Please refrain from the use of perfume and cologne while dining with us." The same language appears on the menu. Additionally, when making reservations, the staff always informs guests of the situation. They make every effort to prevent an uncomfortable situation.
It seems odd to call someone's career choice into question over something as serious as a medical condition, particularly someone as talented as Chef Larry. The irony is, if someone came into the restaurant and had an allergy to seafood, nuts, lacose or glucose intolerance, etc., Larry would do what all good chefs would, and make absolutely certain not to endanger his guest's health.
We have had guests with us from Napa, San Francisco, Washington D.C., New York and Florida dine at The Port Bistro. The universal reaction is how delicious and creative the plates are, and how unexpected and exciting it is to find such a great place in Ilwaco.
While we empathize with the previous writer (mostly because she missed an excellent meal), we encourage her and others not to deny themselves the pleasure of eating out at The Port Bistro. Instead, make sure you are wearing the ever popular Au Naturel scent, and enjoy one of the best meals you will find in the Pacific Northwest.
Michael and Lynn Madigan
West Linn, Ore.