by LINDEN GROSS, One Stop Writing Shop & Oregon LocalGetways
The news that a whiskey bar was coming to town made me happy. That glee grew the second I walked into the small space with its wood, metal and brick décor. I’d finally found a local watering hole that was as comfortable as it was grown-up. Then we actually ate there and I realized that this is the full package. Not only does Stihl serve more than 200 whiskeys along with well-crafted cocktails from their well-rounded bar, its food is darn good too.
My friends and I started out with a round of cocktails, which included a traditional Whiskey Sour made with egg white and a Blackberry Bourbon Lemonade spiked with cardamom and sparkling wine, along with a round of appetizers.
We jumped on The Stihl Grilled Cheese which marries aged Tillamook white cheddar with brisket braised in a house-made spice rub, accented by fennel-pickled red onion. Add buttery Texas Toast and you’ve got a stellar sandwich.
Both of the salads we tried proved to be light, refreshing counters to the rich grilled cheese. The Boston Bibb salad with goat cheese, orange segments and toasted pepita seeds was tossed in a slightly sweet bourbon vinaigrette. I have to admit that I didn’t taste much bourbon in the dressing, which could be a good thing. The beautifully presented roasted beet salad included golden and red beets in an orange and ginger drizzle with black pepper thyme, fleur de sel and creamy chèvre. Lovely.
The barbecued braised shrimp was less successful with a glaze that struck us all as too sweet. But the French Onion Soup was a hit, its impressive depth of flavor accented by fried leeks with brown butter chanterelle mushrooms. Four stars.
The entrees that Chef Rian Mulligan (previously of Tetherow) served up also earned accolades. The boneless pork chop, pan-seared with shallots and garlic and served pink, was wonderfully moist and tender. That’s hard to do with a pork chop. The dry citrus rub which, in the words of my friend Deb “sets forward on your tongue,” was so good that the leftovers were just as tasty cold the next day.
The Fish ‘n’ Chips were equally memorable. Served in a newspaper cone, the fresh fish tasted as if it had been infused with citrus, while the light breading provided a satisfying, not too greasy crunch. I have two friends who have actively scoured Bend for the best fish ‘n’ chips in town. Girls, your search is over.
Having determined that “the pork and fish ‘n’ chips were out of control,” we also tried Stihl’s two steaks. The rib eye, served with chanterelle brown butter and garlic herb mushroom sauce was very tender. The top sirloin was a little tough and grisly, but the char on the steak coupled with a delicious red wine Crimini mushroom sauce and fried shallots made up for that and more. I’d order the sirloin again in a second.
We ended our meal with a candied orange peel bread pudding served with slivered almonds and spun sugar over a bourbon sauce. Next up? I can’t wait to sample the hot toddies and to see how Stihl incorporates whiskey into the cheesecake it serves.
The Stihl Whiskey Bar
550 Franklin Avenue, Suite #118
Owner: Jason Gartz
Hours: Monday 5pm – close;
Tuesday – Saturday 6pm – close