Students move into the inn

Oroville Inn opens its doors; noshing at Nori; and new décor at Long Creek Winery.

At long last, the Oroville Inn opened to students this week. Seems an odd time for move-in, what with Thanksgiving on Thursday, but I don’t make the schedule over at the Northwest Lineman College. What I do know is that the new accommodations in downtown Oroville—slated to house at least 80 linemen this semester—are a far cry from the dilapidated state they were in over a year ago, the last time I stepped foot inside the inn.

On Friday, developer Bud Tracy and his daughter, Arwen Funk, led tours through the restored Oroville Inn. It’s not all finished yet—the ballroom and front retail spaces are still in the works—but the residential wing was complete and ready for move-in day. The historic aspects of the locale make for unique qualities around every corner—including original bathtubs!

Early on in the tour, as the group stood on the second floor balcony overlooking the grand foyer, Tracy recalled history: The Oroville Inn was partially finished when the stock market crashed—leading to the Great Depression. But local businesspeople stepped up, ponying up the money to finish the inn, and garnering the attention of then-President Herbert Hoover. “He stood there,” Tracy said, pointing to the speaker’s platform, “and said, ‘This is what America is all about.’” Pretty inspiring!

Chow down Across the street from the Oroville Inn sits a month-old restaurant, Nori. I decided to try it, and I’m glad I did. The “Asian kitchen + grill” offers an impressive variety of rice, pho and salad entrees, in addition to a good selection of small plates—from Sticky Ribs to Stuffed Dynamite Mussels.

It was a chilly day, so when my friendly server told me the pho was the most popular thing on the menu, I rolled with it and ordered the house combo for $11.95 (with brisket, rare steak, Vietnamese beef meatballs, chicken and shrimp). It came out super fast and not only was it artfully prepared, it was also delicious (the brisket especially so). Check ’em out the next time you’re in town.

Wine down After lunch, I popped over to Long Creek Winery because I’d heard they’d just finished a remodel. Remodel, indeed. The tasting room was always quaint and rustic, but … wow. The walls have gone from nondescript to a mixture of deep red and black-and-white damask. And plush sofas add an element of naughtiness that the place was clearly missing. The result is pure mid-century-modern chic.

But that’s not even the half of it. Winery spokeswoman Erica Smith, who gave me the short tour, displayed the pièce de resistance: the barrel room. It used to be filled with barrels, she explained, but when Almendra Winery & Distillery opened in Durham a year ago, Berton and Carol Bertagna (who own both) were able to move some inventory to make way for a lounge area. Couches, benches, deer antlers, check. Plus, a cold case filled with meats and cheeses. Sounds like some afternoon fun. Check for tasting and event info.

Insider tip: Smith says the winery is phasing out its Vaquero Brand wines. So, if you’re a fan, stock up now!