The words athletic club don’t usually conjure up notions of great food. But that was before Bistro 28 opened at the Athletic Club of Bend.
Three friends and I started our evening with a round of cocktails by the fireplace in the tastefully revamped restaurant. Lovely.
Once seated at our booth, we realized that either the benches are a bit low or the tables a bit high. I felt like a little kid. Until our appetizers arrived that is.
The zesty barbecued (wild-caught) shrimp served with a delectable sauce you could put over just about anything tastes just as good as it does at Zydeco, which makes sense since Cheri and Steve Helt own and operate both restaurants.
The Frisée salad with bacon, a poached egg and light, lemony bacon vinaigrette was comforting as always. Who doesn’t love this French classic in which eggs and bacon meet greens?
The list of entrees looked so inviting that we wound up ordering five dishes for four people.
The crab cakes were chock full of crab. My friend Jill announced that the word cake had been tacked onto the name only because it was a celebration. She deemed the dish a work of art. The accompanying crisply shoe-string potatoes were addictively sexy.
The pork chop marinated with lemongrass was moist and flavorsome. If you like a somewhat sweet, soy sauce taste, this is the dish for you.
I preferred the beautifully prepared ahi tuna encrusted with grains of paradise, which drew unanimous raves. We all agreed that it tasted like we were in Hawaii.
The wood-fired rotisserie chicken delighted some of us more than others. I would have preferred a straight-forward, juicy bistro-style bird. But two of my friends—and my brother the next day—loved its light, flavorful smoke. I do believe my brother even used the word amazing, which is not something you often hear about leftovers.
My favorite entree, which I would have again just over a week later, was the porcini-compound butter filet. Served with perfectly al dente asparagus and French fries, this melt-in-your-mouth, baseball cut of beef was so good that I couldn’t even speak. I just oohed and awed and purred. On my return visit, my dining companion shared a chop from her rack of lamb seasoned with fennel and coriander. It’ll be a tough choice next time.
Bourbon Pecan Pie without any of that traditionally gummy filling proved to be the meal’s crowning moment. “OMG. One of the best desserts I’ve ever had,” exclaimed my buddy Viv. Too busy making sure I got another bite, I could only nod in agreement.
The Athletic Club of Bend, 61615 Athletic Club Drive, Bend
Owners: Cheri & Steve Helt
Open 7 days a week—4pm-close