By LINDEN GROSS A&E Feature Writer
No matter how hard I try to be punctual, these days I seem to run at least five minutes late everywhere I go. The day I’m to review the Brickhouse in Bend, however, I arrive 45 minutes early for my 5:30pm reservation. Why wouldn’t I? I know I’ll be able to sit on the huge deck overlooking the Deschutes River the Old Mill, sip on a cocktail enjoy some of the tastiest happy hour appetizers Bend has to offer as I anticipate the meal to come.
Before this new Brickhouse opened, I was perfectly willing to travel to the original Brickhouse restaurant in Redmond. But I’m even happier to head to this one, which as the website says is located where “Wall Street meets the river.” It’s a spot that has done in a number of restaurants, but that’s all over now. For starters, owner Jeff Porad has solved the challenge of the large, awkwardly laid out interior by adding horseshoe, leather-like booths that are as cozy as they are comfortable. Three new brick walls also help warm up the previously sparse room.
Then there’s that deck with its killer view. The biggest reasons to head to the Brickhouse, however, are the service the food.
My friends I start with soft, tender seared scallops in an unctuous butter sauce then move onto happy hour mussels. “I’ve heard they’re a must try,” says one of my pals. She probably heard that from me. I love the initial sweet taste of coconut curry briny mussel that’s quickly followed by a spicy, Thai kick.
Next come a dozen chilled oysters on the half-shell, served with a slushy mignonette (think icy, vinegary sorbet) that’s brilliant. I’m a purist when it comes to oysters: lemon only. Not in this case. Once the oysters are gone, I finish the mignonette with a spoon.
We’re just as happy with our crab salad with its peppery argula, sweet crab meat tangy citrus accents. That’s my idea of a ménage a trois! The spinach salad, with its Vermont maple syrup dressing goat cheese, couldn’t have been more different. “I love this salad,” exclaimed my friend with the sweet tooth. Even she, however, would have liked just a touch of contrasting acid or heat.
Considering our numerous starters, we decided to split two entrees among the three of us. The seared ahi, served with white rice tiny grilled asparagus, was encrusted with sesame seeds that added a smoky crunch with each bite. Just thinking about the fish makes me want an encore. Our surf- -turf entree was as deliciously decadent as the tuna had been light lovely. Imagine a melt-in-your-mouth blackened ribeye topped with Oscar (crab, asparagus béarnaise sauce), alongside a baked lobster tail popping out of its shell truffle french fries.
“These I’m in love with,” said my friend who’s as much of a carnivore as I am. “Absolutely rich in flavor.” The comment, originally made about the fries, described every single morsel on our plate.
The Brickhouse’s spectacular steaks are about to get even better. “We’ve always served a great Northwest beef product,” says Porad, who started working in restaurants at age 14 to support his album skateboard habit. “But we’ve recently been able to source something that’s even better. We are now the only restaurant in Bend serving exclusively Northwest prime grade natural beef.”
Where’s the beef? In Bend, it’s at the Brickhouse, along with a lineup of seafood that will make you feel positively coastal.
803 SW Industrial Way; Bend
Owner: Jeff Porad
4pm – close 7 days a week