The Wayfarer Restaurant: or Why I Hate TripAdvisor

Folks out enjoying Cannon Beach, OR

Address: 1190 Pacific Drive, Cannon Beach OR 97110— Get directions
Telephone: (503) 436-1108
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Rostra rating: 1.5

As the result of a beautiful walk along the beach, we tumbled starving into the Wayfarer Restaurant in Cannon Beach around 1PM. The place was less than half full and things got off to a great start as the hostess was able to seat us at one of the three tables in the establishment that offer a stunning view of the near-by haystack rock. Then things fell apart. Service bi-furcated into a super efficient buss boy and drinks guy and a waitress who did not show up for twenty minutes and then disappeared again for at least half an hour. She did a lot of apologizing throughout the meal, but it was not really clear what the cause of her long absences were.

Local Rockfish Tacos - Cumin-scented rockfish breaded in cornmeal, seared and folded into warm corn tortillas with pico de gallo, fresh corn, topped with pepper jack cheese. Served with shredded lettuce, sliced avocado and black beans.

Patti declared that she was definitely not going to get the fish tacos, because she always did and they always sucked. By the time that we finally gave our orders to Ms. AWOL, however, she did in fact order the fish tacos, and she was right, they sucked. The “cumin-scented” local rockfish was actually fine for fried fish, but it came buried underneath a huge glop of stuff that defied disentangling even with menu guidance. Tacos are supposed to be finger food, but you had to excavate the rock fish with knife and fork through a homogenized amalgam of pico de gallo, lettuce, avocado, black beans, and corn, tons of corn.

Razor Club - sesame-crusted razor clam, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and jalapeño-lime jelly on a toasted, house-made Kaiser bun and served with French fries.

The razor club was a culinary war crime. Wonderful large razor clams were somehow tortured into a patty and then deep-fried into hockey puck-level toughness, served with uncrispy bacon, limp lettuce, cardboard masquerading as tomatoes, all on a soft and soggy “ house made” hamburger bun. Now that’s real eatin’. I must say, however, that I failed to detect the jalapeno-lime jelly. The accompanying fries were stale and barely warm.

Dungeness Crab Cakes - seasoned with herbs and lemon, lightly bound with shrimp mousse, and served with house-made citrus-herb aioli.

Dungeness crab cakes must also be added to this gastronomic indictment. In fact, a former president of the Montana State Bar very graciously described them as bland and uninteresting. Supposedly these glutton free masterpieces are held together with shrimp mousse. Like the mysterious yet ubiquitous jalapeno-lime jelly, however, one suspects that the description of such substances is honored more in the breach on the Wayfarer menu, which does wax rhapsodic on its selection of spendy, and in the case of the crab cakes stingy, bad food.

The exception that proved the rule was clam chowder. It was very thick, creamy, and clammy. Obviously made well ahead of time, it took our waitress and the kitchen only about 30 minutes to get a bowl of it to our table.

Inside the Wayfarer Inn

TripAdvisor gives the Wayfarer 4 out of 5 based on 861 reviews. This should dismiss forever the notion that the wisdom of crowds can be employed to any culinary benefit. Indeed, TripAdvisor is the most influential but not the most egregious. No rating site gives this abomination less than 3.5, and Open Table actually tops TripAdvisor at 4.3. The conclusions are inescapable, either most diners are idiots or they are duped by sites that have a vested interest in generating inflated positive reviews. As our local Longmire might say, what do you think?

The saving grace behind this ridiculous culinary farce is that it is Oregon after all. And while they will gouge Montucky hicks for really bad food in touristy venues that make their numbers on one-time sales, they simply refuse to sell bad beer or wine. And that stuff seemed to show up a lot faster than the food, hmmmm.

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Morgan Hart was launched in 2011 as a website and virtual storefront to showcase Patti's software and Morgan's content. Dedicated to slow travel, culinary excess, and ripping good yarns, MagoGuide is the digital scriptoria for the Mago Scrolls, Morgan's historical fiction series about the Punic Wars in general and one Mago of Syracuse in particular. Although Morgan has written a great deal of non-fiction over the years in the form of specialized journal articles, book reviews, op-ed pieces, and (his personal favorite) the most unpopular coffee table book in the history of the planet, he always viewed himself as a happily frustrated novelist. Get more information about Morgan's novel and travel writing at our Products page.

2 thoughts on “The Wayfarer Restaurant: or Why I Hate TripAdvisor

  1. I am very sorry to read about your disappointing experience at the Wayfarer Restaurant on your recent Cannon Beach visit. We never want to hear that ANY customer at our restaurant has a poor experience with food, beverage, or service issues. Our goal has always been to source beautiful NW foods and showcase them in a simple manner, with a well-educated and trained staff that is truly world class. Your experience missed in every category, and I am sorry for that. We are always appreciative of guests that provide feedback as it truly gives a chance to look at our system and improve. I know it’s possible that I can’t salvage our relationship, but I would love to have the opportunity to serve you again. Thank you sincerely for your time. Please contact me directly at 503-436-1108 so that we can work through additional details from your experience.

    Jeremy Tolliver
    Wayfarer Manager

    1. First of all, thank you for your thoughtful and professional comment. We try to be as fair as we know how when reviewing a restaurant, but we do not sugar coat our reviews of food and service. Other restaurants’ responses to negative reviews have not been nearly as polite as yours. We appreciate your restraint.

      Having said that, I think that the information about what went wrong with our meal is in this review. Some overall observations, though, would be add more flavor, make certain that the food comes out hot, and if you’re going to include a difficult-to-handle ingredient such as razor clams, then make certain that the result is consistent, tender, and delicious. It really should have been the highlight of the meal. The poor service was simply a mystery to us. The room wasn’t overly busy. Perhaps since it was not the height of the tourist season the staff was stretched.

      We will grant that this review was based on one meal at the Wayfarer. If we come back to Cannon Beach, we will definitely give your restaurant another try. If you meet the goal articulated in your comment, then I think that we may well be able to write a very different review.

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