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About Appeal tribune. (Silverton, Or.) 1999-current | View Entire Issue (March 29, 2017)
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 29, 2017
Life in the
PHOTOS BY BROOKE JACKSON-GLIDDEN / STATESMAN JOURNAL
The chicken club sandwich at The MarKum Inn is an addition that came with the restaurant’s new lunch hours. The sandwich can be ordered any time of day.
MarKum is best pizza place
found in middle of nowhere
100-year-old restaurant near Silverton has been revamped
The MarKum Inn, a wood-paneled
steakhouse outside Silverton in the tiny
farming community of Marquam, is the
only sit-down restaurant for miles, a des-
tination for farmers and ranchers
around the area. Their fathers ate here,
and before that, their grandfathers wit-
nessed various owners struggle and suc-
ceed as the restaurant survived fires, de-
pressions, recessions and bad manage-
In the 100-plus years, The MarKum
has been many things: a notoriously
sexist saloon, a family joint, a country
hotel, a tavern. The restaurant was
known for its massive burgers and
baked potatoes, washed down with un-
fussy beer. In the ‘50s, people played
cards and smoked over drinks and red
The restaurant was revived after a
2014 fire by a gaggle of outsiders: a Cali-
fornian manager, a Midwestern owner, a
Southern chef. They introduced dishes
that made some hesitant: a butternut
squash hummus? At the MarKum?
Indeed, the MarKum is less down-
home these days.
“The burger is like, half the size, but
the fries are good,” bemoans a man to his
friend, both in boots still caked in mud.
Others note the change in the “perfect
potato,” a MarKum hand-me-down that
perhaps should have stayed in the past.
Though it is not the MarKum Inn you
may have grew up with, if you order
right, it’s better.
The bar is usually crowded, a basket-
ball game playing while men drink beer
(like the restaurant’s exclusive Seven
Brides blonde). The construction outside
will soon be a patio, sure to be crowded as
the weather warms. For now, cozy is easy
to achieve, as wood-fired ovens warm
the lodge-like restaurant.
Farmers have kept The MarKum Inn
alive for years, in more ways than one.
They’re the primary customers, but also
the suppliers: Diggin’ Roots organic
Marquam vegetables appear in calzones
and hummus, and Coleman Ranch in
Molalla raises cattle for the restaurant’s
daily steak list.
The quality of this steak is a testa-
ment to rancher Steve Coleman, who
ranches cows that become wild-tasting
New York strips. The MarKum Inn buys
whole cows from him, cutting steaks that
age at Lonely Lane Farms in Mt. Angel.
If you go
The MarKum Inn and Muddy Boots Bar:
Where: 36903 Highway 213 (outside Silverton)
When: 11:45 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Tuesdays-Thursdays and Sundays and 11:45 to
11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
What to order: Roast Beef Sandwich, Meat
Lover’s Pizza (really, any pizza), Butternut
What you’ll spend: Appetizers $5 to $11,
entrees $9 to $17, steaks to market (around
$20 to $40)
Get in touch: 503-829-6006
(Four stars: exceptional; three stars: good; two
stars: fair; one star: poor)
The MarKum Inn recently reopened after a 2014 fire.
Each steak is very simply grilled with
salt and pepper, but despite ordering me-
dium rare, some cuts arrive with a rosy-
pink center — the perfect medium rare
— while others, like a dangerously lean
sirloin, were egregiously overcooked to
the point of felt-like, mealy, Donald-
Trump-pleasing well done.
General manager Julio Valera said
these steaks are intended to taste like
beef and flame and nothing else; in this
effort, the restaurant succeeds, but I
could do the same at home (as soon as I
win Coleman’s trust and buy all his
Beef lovers should order the Roast
Beef Sandwich instead. French Dip pur-
ists who scoff at additional spreads or
snub any unnecessary vegetation will
faint at the sight of this game-changer,
which hides a swipe of Prime Rib-style
horseradish sauce and grilled onions un-
der a curtain of melted cheese. It’s a
French dip with a country twang, and it
won’t easily leave my memory.
The New MarKum has some issues
with labeling dishes. A promised wedge
salad that comes with all the steaks is not
a wedge but rather a tossed mixed green
salad (Valera says this change was re-
cent, as customers didn’t like the
wedge). Naan is really a fluffy cloud of
pizza dough, and butternut squash hum-
mus ... well, I’m not sure what butternut
squash hummus is. But I like it.
Butternut hummus, a chunky paste
with tumbling fried chickpeas and
cheese, arrives with a giant pizza dough
blob. The dish had me questioning a lot of
my conceptions surrounding hummus.
Squash replaces traditional pureed
chickpeas, but the final product retains
hummus’ other essential ingredients: ta-
hini, olive oil, lemon juice.
What does a hummus require to be a
hummus? Chickpeas? Tahini? It definite-
ly doesn’t require fried sage, though it
goes quite well with butternut squash pu-
ree. The accompanying bread is defi-
nitely not naan, but it’s fluffy and hot,
and when you rip in, steam billows until
your face is flush. It’s a visceral, unique
dish for a country steakhouse, even if it’s
not what it says it is.
New Jersey has fat sandwiches. Mis-
souri has Gerbers. Illinois has horse-
shoes, and when owner Mark Burnett
moved here from Illinois, he brought the
state’s sandwich with him. The MarKum
Inn’s version of the sandwich piles meat,
fries and cheese sauce on a piece of Tex-
as toast. The menu recommends you pair
your sandwich with “a cardiologist on
speed dial,” which is not a bad idea. With
tender fried chicken, the Horse Shoe is a
good sloppy drunk food, though I’m not
sure it will “change my life” the way the
menu promises. My boyfriend dis-
The real reason to visit the MarKum
is the pizzas, flatbreads with crispy-on-
the-bottom, zero-droop crust. The inside
is fluffy, flavorful, fragrant with yeast,
like walking into a bakery at 6 a.m. The
taste of char from the wood-fired pizza
oven is present but doesn’t insinuate the
pizza is overcooked. It flirts with sweet
tomato sauce and toppings like local pep-
peroni and ricotta. Options range from
fancy to down home, from a white pizza
with smoked sea salt and arugula to a
meat lover’s with ground beef and
smoked ham. So far, it’s the best pizza
I’ve had in the mid-valley.
The MarKum Inn is not Marquam
Tavern, or any of the other iterations of
the restaurant. The restaurant often
boasts that it’s 100-plus years old, but
really, each time it’s been something a lit-
tle different. This change, albeit a big
change, is a good one.
I’ve heard the frustrations from the
tables around me, complaints on the
changes in size and the speed of service.
The new MarKum is not fast food or try-
ing to impress with size, but no points are
lost because of it in my book.
You might not expect a rural steak-
house to have the best pizza around, but
then again, you don’t expect a restaurant
to survive three fires and 100 years.
The MarKum Inn, instead, invested in
the community. It proudly sourced vege-
tables from Marquam. It uses local beef
and lets it speak for itself (however I feel
about that). Sauces, breads and pizza
dough are made in-house. And still, the
restaurant listens to its customers,
changing restaurant fundamentals
based on community feedback.
The new ownership has adjusted the
menu, prices and hours since the restau-
“We try to respond to the customer,”
said Valera, sitting at the bar during a
slow, lazy lunch hour. “We lowered the
price, we added lunch items. ... But we
don’t make our food in three seconds or
less. Wood-fired food takes longer, but
try it. It tastes better.”