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Change Ruffles the Status Quo at Pine Tavern -- In a Good Way

Read more: Change Ruffles the Status Quo at Pine Tavern -- In a Good Wayby LINDEN GROSS for Cascade A&E

 

Things are changing so quickly at Pine Tavern that the servers can barely keep up:


New owner—Bill McCormick, co-founder of the McCormick & Schmick’s, a national chain of seafood restaurants, and the former owner of Jake’s Famous Crawfish restaurant in Portland.


New décor—remodel features include five intimate dinner nooks with curtains that can be drawn.


New daily menu that meshes new fare with beloved classics.


For decades Pine Tavern wasn’t just the place to dine in Bend, it was almost the only place to dine if you wanted to treat yourself. Over the years, each changing of the guard has brought something new and exciting to the table. This latest change in ownership (just the fourth since the restaurant was established in 1936) promises just that.


The bar was almost full when I arrived at 5pm. By the time my friends and I headed into dinner a little over an hour later, the dining room was packed as well. We settled into our window-side table overlooking Mirror Pond and after much scrutiny of the new menu managed to agree on three appetizers and two salads.


The grilled half an artichoke served with melted butter was sensational, with the smoky flavor elevating a somewhat bland vegetable to a sublime new level. I’d suggest ordering one for every two people—or not sharing at all. The accompanying arugula salad with a wonderfully tart lemon-pepper vinaigrette provided the perfect palate cleanser.


I was delighted to find the same salad accompanying two large Dungeness crab cakes. I was less thrilled with the crab cakes themselves, which could have been crispier. And while they were fresh as could be, we all found them under-seasoned and agreed that a little more onion or shallot would help.


Read more: Change Ruffles the Status Quo at Pine Tavern -- In a Good WayI had no quibbles with the Cajun Shrimp & Grits which were perfect. The shrimp piled atop the grits in a lovely presentation which included leeks, bell pepper, garlic, shallots and onions (so that’s where they went) were plump, tender and super flavorful. Comfort food goes seaside. Yum.


Both salads were tasty. The Caesar could have used a smidge more dressing and a more even-handed toss, so the nod and eight thumbs up went to the Arugula and Roasted Beet Salad with goat cheese, red onion and balsamic vinaigrette.


When it came time to think about our next course, we eyed the impressive entrée salads before settling on our selections—a mix of Pine Tavern Classics, Seafood Entrees and Chef’s Specials. The Lobster Scampi with tomatoes, garlic and shallots in a white wine butter sauce was as deliciously decadent as it sounds. The linguini it was served on, however, tasted too strongly of lemon. A lighter hand on that front would provide a bright note without overpowering the star of the dish. The duck breast needed less time in a hotter pan, which would have resulted in a better sear and rarer, juicier slices of duck. But the balsamic reduction sauce was the perfect foil, and even our non-duck lover liked the dish.


Two of our entrees were hands-down winners. The 16-oz. Bone-in Ribeye topped with blue cheese compound butter, which after much debate we had selected over the prime rib, was ridiculously good. I can’t remember who announced that it was one of the best rib-eyes she’d ever eaten. I was too busy diving in for another bite.


The Blackened Thresher Shark was equally wonderful, especially because we asked for a side of beurre blanc, my favorite butter sauce for fish, in addition to the mango chutney the shark came with. “It’s intoxicating with the beurre blanc,” announced Deb. I’d have the shark again tonight if I could, but unfortunately we didn’t leave a single bite so no leftovers.


By the time we got to dessert, they had run out of two of our top choices—the house-made scone bread pudding served with Irish Whiskey Sauce and the Mixed Berry Cobbler. We consoled ourselves with the Sky High Mud Pie (oh yea) and the old-school Strawberry Shortcake which one of my friends announced was like “a warm hug from Grandma.” Our hands-down favorite, however, was the silky, creamy, eggy and utterly lovely classic Vanilla Crème Brulle. It just doesn’t get any better than that.


Yup, it’s true. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

 

Pine Tavern Restaurant
967 NW Brooks Street; Bend
541-382-5581
www.pinetavern.com
Owner: Bill McCormick
Hours: Lunch: Mon-Sat 11:30am -4:30pm
Dinner Daily 5:00pm-close

Broken Top Bottle Shop Not A Brew Pub, A Brew Hub

Read more: Broken Top Bottle Shop Not A Brew Pub, A Brew HubBroken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café is not a brew pub, they’re a brew HUB! The shop opened its doors in February 2012 and has been working at putting itself on the map for tasty and healthy food, delicious beer, live entertainment and contributing to community.


Drawing initial inspiration from the Bier Stein in Eugene, Oregon, a pair of couples, owners Diana Fischetti, Andy Polanchek and Jennifer and Jason Powell set out to fill an unfilled niche in Central Oregon.  Even in the face of a booming craft beer industry in the area, they felt that no retail or restaurant location was doing what they wanted to do. They wanted to offer a unique combination of tasty food, a variety of draught craft and specialty beer, and a grand selection of bottled and canned beer for on- and off-site consumption.


FOOD! Delicious and healthy food, such as smoked meats, panini sandwiches, appetizers, soups, salads, as well as vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, are all available at BTBS. Their vegan and vegetarian menu items, as well as their gluten-free options, have gained much praise, are ridiculously delicious, and are balanced by a variety of meat dishes.


They have no fryer and smoke all of their meat on-site, providing healthier options for visitors. Chef Bethlyn Rider deserves much credit for her amazing culinary creations.


BEER! Broken Top Bottle Shop offers a rotating 12 – 15 tap selection of craft and specialty beer, along with wine and other beverages. They also offer chilled single bottle and canned beer to purchase from the 12-door cooler to drink on site or take to-go. They currently have about 300 varieties of beer, cider and other beverages and plan to double their selection in the next six months. And, they fill growlers, too!


ENTERTAINMENT! Their weekly Brews & Bands event offer free live music shows nearly every Sunday night from 7–9pm, featuring artists ranging from Central Oregon locals and Siberians from Russia to hosted jam sessions, belly dancing and student performances.


BTBS held multiple events involving beer and entertainment throughout the year, including the Central Oregon Beer Week (a week of beer tastings and bands) in May, the Brewtal Breakdown Festival in September, the Westside Wassail song & cider fest in December and their Happy Firkin Anniversary three-day celebration in February. (By the way, a firkin keg is unpasteurized, unfiltered, and carbonated through cask conditioning rather than CO2 injection.)


COMMUNITY!  BTBS donates all of their empty bottles and cans to the Bethlehem Inn, a community-based facility that provides comprehensive services and resources to those experiencing homelessness. They have supported, through donations or sponsorships, numerous organizations and events including Rise Up International for Roots Fest 2013 (through the Brewtal Breakdown Festival fundraiser), 4 Peaks Music Festival, Central Oregon Beer Week, Central Oregon Beer Angles, Humane Society of Central Oregon, Bend Spay and Neuter Clinic, Little Woody Barrel Aged Beer Festival, Pints for Polio, Oregon League of Conservation Voters, The Environmental Center’s Green Drinks, Bend Pride, Stars and Rainbows, Bend Ukulele University, Locavore, VegNet Bend, Summit High School Graduation Association, American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, Arts Central, Family Kitchen, Project Connect, Assistance League of Bend, and CODSN. They are also proud members of the Green Spot (Central Oregon’s Directory of Sustainable Businesses) and the Bend Chamber.


Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café
541-728-0703
1740 NW Pence Lane, Suite 1 (located at the bottom of the hill on the way to COCC)
Bend, OR 97701

Cowboy Up to the Tumalo Feed Company

Read more: Cowboy Up to the  Tumalo Feed Companyby LINDEN GROSS Cascade A&E Feature Writer


One glance at the kids’ menu served up at the Tumalo Feed Company tells you just about everything you need to know about this steak house. The kids’ $6.95 offerings (for ages 5-11) feature baby back ribs and steak—no charge for little ones under 5. Turn over the printed sheet of paper that doubles as a coloring book over and you’ll discover that you can add onion rings and root beer floats to your entrée for “just a buck.” You’ll also find an announcement about huckleberry lemonade and margaritas (“We Love Us Some Huckleberries!”), and a list of all the bourbons served, what proof they are and where they’re from. Even if you hadn’t paid attention to the décor complete with faux (translation vinyl) cowhide tablecloths and the servers’ western wear, you would know that you’d pulled up to a cowboy joint.


The Tumalo Feed Company is the real deal when it comes to cowboy fare. Clue #1: Overheard conversations about shoving cows. Clue #2: The number of cowboy hats at the saloon’s Howdy Hour. Clue #3: The fact that they have a saloon, complete with swinging doors and a plaque commemorating singer Pat Thomas’ 15 years of weekend performances. Clue #4: A menu that boasts “legendary steaks since 1991.”


I was tempted to surprise the two old-time, High Sierra friends joining me with an order of mountain oysters (bull testicles), but just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Instead, we started with Irish Nachos (substitute skillet potatoes for the chips) served in a cast-iron skillet, which worked in a big way for my friend Ted. “My palate loves this, especially the peppers,” he said.


Next we sampled two kinds of stuffed mushrooms—a portobello piled high with feta and caramelized onions, and mushroom caps baked with cream cheese and chilies. I have to admit that both were just as tasty the next day when I folded the leftovers into eggs.
We also pulled the trigger on a pound of Pacific Northwest steamer clams, which were tender and infused with garlic, wine and butter.


We were off to a great start.


I was tempted to order pan-fried oysters or pan-seared scallops as an entrée, especially after tasting the clams, but that just didn’t seem right. So I decided to have my steak and eat it too by throwing in a lobster tail. One bite and I instantly regretted that my tablemates and I had agreed to evenly share all our entrees. (That happens a lot.) The flat iron steak was as flavorful as a steak ever needs to be. The lobster was as tender as the meat and just as perfectly cooked. What a treat!


The Steak Oscar, our second choice, featured a 7-ounce filet mignon wrapped in smoky bacon, topped with scampi and asparagus spears and drenched with béarnaise (think hollandaise sauce with tarragon). I didn’t love the sauce which seemed thin, but the meat melted in my mouth.


The same could be said for the rib eye crusted with serious pepper and a full ¼-inch of creamy blue cheese. I’m not kidding—I double-checked the thickness with my carpenter friend Ted. We could have opted for sautéed mushrooms, grilled onions, sautéed shrimp or roasted garlic toppers, but I loved the kick provided by the cracked pepper and creamy funk of the blue cheese on the steak that was, well, legendary.


All entrees come with two “sidekicks.” Options include cowboy beans, mac and cheese, a baked potato, fried potatoes (as opposed to fries which are also offered), a mixed green salad, coleslaw and a shrimp cocktail. We opted for tangy mac and cheese and a double order of veggies and steamed spinach, both of which were surprisingly terrific. I guess I don’t think about perfectly sautéed al dente zucchini rounds, asparagus spears and snow peas when it comes to cowboy steak houses.


We rounded out our meal with a killer chocolate cake served with vanilla ice cream in a puddle of hot fudge, and yes, a couple shots of bourbon that we split. When in Tumalo…


“Wow! That really is a heart stopper,” concluded my friend John. I’m sure he’s right, but what a way to go.

 

Tumalo Feed Company
64619 West Highway 20, Bend (if using GPS, use 64682 Cook Ave, Bend since some devices don’t recognize the physical address)
541- 382-2202
www.tumalofeedcompany.com
Outdoor deck open all summer, live music, Howdy Hour, late night menu and music.
Owners: John Bushnell and Robert Holley
Hours: Open daily—Saloon: 4:30pm–close; Dining Room: 5pm–close

Homemade Pub Fare (and Breakfast!) at The Hideaway

Read more: Homemade Pub Fare (and Breakfast!) at The Hideaway

by LINDEN GROSS One Stop Writing Shop

 

Mention The Hideaway and invariably you’ll hear, “Oh, they have really good food.” Now I expect that about a top restaurant. But a sports bar with eight flat screen TVs, a pool table, darts and shuffleboard? Even if it is owned by Victorian Café notable John Nolan. I had to go check out the place for myself.


I quickly realized that even though it’s a pub, The Hideaway can satisfy just about anyone’s palate. Even my vegetarian massage therapist recommended the food. “You’ve got to try the beet salad,” she said. She was right. The depth of flavor in the beets, which are braised in vinegar and herbs, and the dressing, which includes a reduction of the braising liquid, made it one of the best I’ve tasted.


Did I mention that nearly everything except the bread is made from scratch? This isn’t the kind of place where you’re going to be served frozen poppers. Here the stuffed jalapeños are wrapped in bacon and filled with homemade pork, cheddar and cream cheese sausage.  Instead of the usual reconstituted wings, The Hideway offers Buffalo Drumsticks that are beer braised, fried, sautéed and then baked. Seriously?  


Other yummy starters we sampled included pork wings in a slightly sweet Asian barbecue sauce with a hint of heat, tempura-battered fried pickles and two types of Stromboli oozing with cheese (think Calzone with the marinara sauce on the side). I thought I would prefer the meat-packed Stromboli Luigi, but the Stromboli Sophia with roasted red pepper, baby spinach, red onion and feta won me over.


We even had the Braised Duck Poutine—essentially a huge dish of fries smothered in braised duck gravy and fresh made-in-house mozzarella curd. I’m not a poutine fan, but it worked for one of my friends. “I make sure I come in solo and get a corner table,” admitted Kebaba executive chef and co-owner Jake Lewis. “This isn’t something you eat in public, but it’s so right.”


Back to the salads. We tried at least five. Aside from the classic Caesar, not one was like anything I’ve tasted. Brussels Baby! featured shaved brussel spouts, baby kale and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano in a creamy, vaguely sweet Dijon dressing. The Pear Bleu paired fresh sliced pears and mixed greens with toasted walnuts, dried cranberries and crumbled blue cheese. The Mother Grain, a vegetarian’s mother-load (pun and misspelling intended) boasted red quinoa, wheatberries, caramelized onion, dried cranberries and baby spinach tossed in a zesty lemon vinaigrette.


But wait. There was more to come. A lot more. The half-pound burger was everything a burger should be—tasty meat (a combination of chuck and brisket ground in-house), cooked to a perfectly charred medium-rare and served with crispy fries that tasted like real potatoes. The Truffle Mac & Cheese was anything but subtle, but I love truffle oil so it worked for me. Besides, how can you argue with shells tossed in a four-cheese Mornay sauce and studded with bacon? Even the pizzas were delicious. And the desserts? Let’s just say that I kept having bites of the peanut-butter chocolate cheesecake long after my stomach had raised the “stop” sign.


At Nolan’s insistence, I returned two days later for breakfast—which is offered only on the weekends—with a new friend in tow. As we settled in, we noticed two little girls playing pool. Another Hideaway surprise: Kids are allowed in the tavern until 10pm.


We kicked off our morning meal with a round of Eggs Benedict, which were even better than those at the Vic. The traditional bennie featured wonderfully smoky ham. The capers and shallots served with the smoked-in-house Wild King Salmon Benedict were a nice touch. But the Mushroom Basket Benedict stole the show. How can you resist a giant charbroiled portabella mushroom cap stuffed with vegetables and then topped with perfectly poached eggs and hollandaise?


By then we had sampled the mimosas as well as The Game Changer, which is hands down the best—and most ridiculous—Bloody Mary in town. Not only do you get a double shot of Nolan’s house-spiced pepper vodka, the garnish includes a jumbo prawn, pickled asparagus and beans, and a golf-ball-sized, crusty fried blue cheese ball wrapped in maple bacon.


I could keep going and tell you about Carnitas Chimichanga, the breakfast burrito special or the French toast special with cinnamon bread, blueberry mascarpone, Meyer lemon cream sauce and fresh blueberries. But why? By now it must be apparent that it’s time you found your own favorites at The Hideaway.

 

The Hideaway Tavern
939 SE Second Street, Bend
541-312-9898
http://hideawaytavernbend.com/
Owner: John Nolan
Monday – Friday 11am – 11pm;
Saturday – Sunday 8am – 11pm

It’s Martini Time in Redmond

Read more: It’s Martini Time in Redmondby LINDEN GROSS, One Stop Writing Shop


“Have you ever heard of Redmond’s Red Martini, Bar & Grill?” my friend Jill asked me.


The establishment is so new it doesn’t even have a website. But one look at the Facebook page and the menu, and I knew this was my kind of place. That feeling was reinforced the second my friends and I walked into the lovely Art Deco-style lounge with its 15-foot ceilings, original pillars that date back to 1928, vintage movie posters, dark wood bar and old Hollywood feel. We settled into opposing red velvet banquettes and quickly made our selections from the 16 signature martinis. “I don’t feel like I’m in Redmond anymore,” one of my friends said as our cocktails were presented with a couple of amuses, in this case tiny dishes of mixed olives and house-brined vegetables.


We start off with three appetizers. The Artisan Charcuterie plate offered top-notch local cured meats—salami, prosciutto and capicola—served with toasted baguette slices, tasty stone-ground mustard and cornichons. Our second choice, the marinated mozzarella cheese and walnut salad, would have been more successful had the heirloom tomato been ripe. Still, we all liked the contrast of the sweet rosemary balsamic vinaigrette and candied walnut with the salt in the fresh mozzarella and the acid in the tomato. Our third appetizer took things to a whole new level.


The Smoked Salmon Rillette melded both smoked and steamed salmon into a silky and yet slightly chunky spread. A sealing layer of clarified butter added an element of creamy decadence to each bite, with the accompanying fried capers and diced shallots providing contrasting sharp, salty notes. The dish reinforced my sense that I’d found a new home. My friend Viv echoed that sentiment. “Bottom line, I can’t wait to come back,” she announced. And that was before we’d tried the small plates.


Our five selections ran the length of the table. We started with the five-ounce beef tenderloin medallion served with a wild mushroom Merlot sauce on a bed of roasted root vegetable puree. “Rich, delicious comfort food” we all agreed. The Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin served with a lavender pomegranate glaze and sweet potato hash was a pig on pig delight—tender with a hint of salt and sweet. Crispy Dungeness crab cakes—actually a mixture of crab meat, scallops, white fish and fresh herbs with minimal filler—were lightly breaded and moist. The accompanying tomato jam and Cajun aioli worked just as well as the seafood cakes themselves.