Broken Top’s New Top Chef

by LINDEN GROSS, Author, Writing Coach & Publisher

Local residents probably are aware that Broken Top may well be Bend’s most striking restaurant—from its soaring interior defined by open beams expansive windows to its water mountain view. However now that the restaurant is once again open to the public, a new chef has enhanced the dining experience far beyond the esthetics what I shared there with two dining companions can only be described as nearly flawless.

After popping a bottle of champagne at the bar, we were feeling positively festive. Once seated at our table, we smeared slices of fresh bread with freshly roasted garlic, then dipped each bite in homemade garlic oil before digging into our appetizers.

The Crab Mosaic was as fresh as it was beautiful, with its layers of avocado, arugula mango supporting rather than upstaging the Dungeness crab.

The Shrimp Sofrito made us all feel like we’d been transported to a palapa on Isla Mujeres. The shrimp were sweet tender with a slightly charred, smoky taste. The yummy black bean cake friend plantain chip amplified the sense of Caribbean beach grill authenticity.

We switched gears with the salad, opting for the Iceberg Wedge. The rich, creamy blue cheese dressing contrasted brilliantly with the watery crunch of the Iceberg lettuce, while salty apple wood-smoked bacon played with the sweetness of the dried cranberries golden raisins.

Then came the entrées oh my! The Kataifi-crusted scallops showcased another study in contrasts. Citrus flavors from micro arugula tossed in lemon oil offset the creamy beurre blanc sauce, which also featured leeks, potatoes corn. And the crunchy, web-like Kataifi—a style of phyllo pastry that looks like shredded wheat—made the scallops’ silky texture seem even more so.

The filet mignon was everything a great piece of meat should be—seared on the outside juicy full of flavor inside. Thinking back to that steak knowing that the kitchen only buys natural beef from Madras, I’m tempted to take a drive stock my freezer. Side dishes of cipollini onion jam, fingerling potatoes a shitake mushroom flan that I’d pay money to be able to replicate took a delicious steak to new heights.

Finally, there was the marlin special with crab, shrimp a mousse of Boursin—a soft, herbed French cheese a chef favorite if the menu is any indication—served with a tomato, basil Asiago risotto. Divine.

At this point I feel like I should apologize for the superlatives. Could a dinner really be this good? It could. “To cook properly one must love respect food. It is with this approach that I prepare food each every time,” says executive chef Bill Ballard, who started at Broken Top in December 2010. “This menu is a culinary journey through my life.”

Life has been apparently been sweet. At least that’s the tale the superb desserts tell. Consider the evidence: Homemade banana toffee ice cream crowned with hazelnut praline, perched on banana brulée served with caramel sauce. A zesty lemon tartlet adorned with French cream fresh berries. Intriguing Forbidden Sticky Rice (think exotic rice pudding) served with coconut almond ice cream, m arin oranges, fried wontons grilled pineapple. And my all time favorite, the Triple Chocolate Torte, with chocolate mousse as good as my mother’s ( she learned in Paris).

In short, the prettiest setting in Bend now boasts some of the town’s best food service. There’s just nothing wrong with this picture.

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