by LINDEN GROSS, One Stop Writing Shop
Most locals know that Crossings at the Riverhouse has been voted Best Steak in Bend three years running. So imagine my surprise when my dad told me that he and his partner had enjoyed a fabulous meal of salmon (him) and crab legs (her). I went online and found that, sure enough, Crossings had recently expanded its menu. That was my cue.
“You have to order the prime rib,” Riverhouse Marketing Manager Shannon Hinderberger exclaimed when I met her in the lounge before dinner. “And someone needs to have the Oregon microbrew sampler platter.” Wow, our ordering was almost complete and I hadn’t even looked at a menu. Even better, I was going to have some very happy friends.
Indeed, my friend Cyndee smiled beatifically when she saw her sampler of Bend IPAs served in fluted glasses twice the normal sampler size. Of course, my own smile, when I tasted our bottle of Ramey cabernet, matched hers tooth for tooth.
We were off to a fine start, which a round of shared appetizers only enhanced. The beautifully presented, super fresh ahi had a positively velvety texture that made up for all the bad ahi I’ve had out in the last few months. My three friends and I all loved the accompanying wasabi aioli. The calamari was light and crispy—a deep-fried success if that’s your thing. I would have liked to taste more saffron in the saffron aioli that was served with both the calamari and the crab cakes, but the crab cakes themselves were delightful.
Two salads followed. The mixed field greens salad with cranberries, mandarin oranges, candied walnuts and blue cheese in sweet yet tart raspberry vinaigrette was as good as it usually is in a fine dining establishment. The Riverhouse Spinning Bowl Salad, however, was a completely unexpected treat. To be honest, I wasn’t sure about the combination of ingredients when I read the description on the menu. Toasted coconut and avocado ranch dressing? To my surprise, the salad, which is tossed tableside, worked quite well. My friends would have preferred romaine lettuce, but I thought the iceberg provided a watery crunch that contrasted nicely with the mandarin oranges, bay shrimp and creamy dressing. The coconut, which arrives fresh and is toasted in the Crossings kitchen, was understated, providing just a hint of layered sweetness.
Finally, we were ready for the main event. Our server Bogdan, a Romanian native who has been at the restaurant for 13 years, had already presented us with a plate of raw beef so that we could see our downright impressive steak options. Holy cow! Then he advised us that if we wanted the prime rib, we’d better put in an order since they only cook one roast a night (just on Thursday through Saturday) and only get seven cuts out of it.
I was having too much fun to do the math. But I got it when our monster slab of slow-roasted prime rib—a full two inches thick and perfectly rare—arrived at the table, followed by a 24-ounce (!) rib eye steak on the bone. Talk about big. And talk about tasty. It bears repeating. Holy cow!
The accompanying array of seasoned salts—merlot infused, smoked and truffle—put my taste buds right over the top. And that was before I tried the pan-seared Cajun salmon, which was moist and spiced just enough to give the fish some zing without overpowering it, or the crab legs deemed “the best” by my friend Gay, who knows her seafood having grown up on the east coast. Even the accompaniments—creamy yet firm green onion risotto and a twice baked potato—were rich and decadent. “How did Bogdan know we were all hormonal?” asked one of my dining companions.
Someone must have told him, because he arrived with desserts that were as gigantic as most of the entrées had been. The Chocolate Sack, a Belgium chocolate box filled with both chocolate and white chocolate mousse was almost too much of a good thing. The mud pie with its thick chocolate cookie crust and enough whipped cream for an orgy was divine. “This is my last bite,” I heard myself say right before I took another and one after that.
“Everything in moderation including moderation,” I announced by way of explanation.
“I strive for that,” concluded one of my friends who shall remain nameless. “But I’m really an excess girl. I love this place!”
Crossings at the Riverhouse
3075 U.S. 97 Business; Bend
Hours: Open Daily, Lunch 11am -2pm; Happy Hour in the lounge (1/2 price appetizers): 4-6pm; Dinner 5pm-closing
Restaurant manager: Niki DeMarr