by LINDEN GROSS, One Stop Writing Shop & Oregon LocalGetaways
When American frontiersman Kit Carson led expeditions along the Deschutes River in the early-19th century, he and his group probably ate some of the same fare that is offered in the newly revamped Sunriver Resort restaurant that now bears his name. But I’m pretty sure that it didn’t taste nearly as good as Chef Travis Taylor’s new, seasonally-driven menu.
As we entered Carson’s American Kitchen, as the restaurant formerly known as The Meadows is now called, my friends and I immediately noticed the world-class view, which you can see again now that the aspens are gone. We settled into the corner booth, the best table in the house, and dove into a glass of bubbly and a charcuterie platter that includes salami and thick-cut prosciutto served with a tiny jar of marionberry mustard, three Oregon cheeses, cherry-chipotle chutney, pickled vegetables and more. Lovely.
We followed up with a generous beet, orange, watercress, arugula and goat cheese salad, served with a whole-grain mustard vinaigrette, and an order of crab cakes served with slices of tomato drizzled with Sriracha and sweet chili aioli. Both starters were as good and fresh as they sound, although I wish the crab cakes had been a bit larger.
I had no quibbles with the size of the duck confit salad. I had expected greens with a few nibbles of duck, so I certainly didn’t expect what amounted to patties of duck confit served with baby kale tossed in a sherry vinaigrette, along with grilled pickled onions and bacon, the whole thing topped with two fried duck eggs. At $12, I can’t imagine how they’re not losing money on this decadently rich dish.
The four good-sized entrees all delivered either great flavor or great promise or both.
The pan-roasted rib eye deglazed with bourbon and served with a button mushroom rosemary garlic pan sauce and crunchy pole beans, ranked as the favorite for two of us.
The other two at the table favored the meaty smoked and grilled pork chop topped with a peach mustard sauce and served with apple, parsnip and vanilla puree, as well as fabulous Brussel sprouts with bacon. If you’re more of a savory type, swap out the puree for mashed potatoes (with or without lobster) and ask for the sauce on the side.
We all loved the pan-seared Muscovy duck breast, although the skin wasn’t crispy enough. The jumbo diver scallops could have used more of a sear as well, and the accompanying sweet pea risotto with fava beans and asparagus needed a tangy goat cheese-type flavor to take it over the top. All easy fixes.
The only problem with the chocolate pot de crème with salted caramel was that I hadn’t saved enough room to eat a whole one myself. Don’t make the same mistake.
Carson’s American Kitchen
17600 Center Drive, Sunriver
Open 7 days a week—7am–9pm