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The Porch: Crazy Good Comfort Food

by LINDEN GROSS, One Stop Writing Shop & Oregon LocalGetways

 

They had me at the truffle parmesan fries.


One of my writing coach clients, a Sisters resident, told me about The Porch. “It’s our favorite place.” After dinner there I understood why.


Read more: The Porch: Crazy Good Comfort FoodSome restaurants are like a carefully composed symphony, with dishes that build on each other. The Porch is more like a jazz riff, with a creative, international approach to comfort food served in a charming, rustic, cottage setting that’s as playful as the food.
In addition to the divine aforementioned truffle fries dusted with shavings of parmesan, our shared plates kicked off with a serving of corn fritters featuring creamy interiors and crunchy exteriors drizzled with Sriracha mayonnaise. The corn tasted so fresh that they must have picked and shucked the corn cobs that same day.


Salads followed. The Orange Caesar Salad, served with Mandarin Oranges and a tasty, crunchy filo black-pepper crouton, didn’t quite have enough zip or anchovy taste for me, but I loved the Strawberry Salad with its organic mixed greens, fresh strawberries, creamy goat cheese and candied pecans. “I like this ballet of texture,” my brother Jeff announced. I had worried that the salad would be sweet, but the emulsified strawberry vinaigrette balanced fruit and tartness wonderfully.


Mountain Raspberry BBQ Ribs accompanied by Southern Broccoli Slaw got our main courses under way. People often talk about meat that’s fall-off-the-bone tender. That’s not just talk at The Porch. The pork actually slid off the bone and onto my plate as I served myself. “This is how a rib should be,” announced my friend and trainer Scott Lemon. “Tender, moist with a wonderful outside char.” I also loved the faintly sweet Mountain Raspberry Sauce made with freshly-picked wild raspberries. “We work closely with forgers and farmers,” said co-owner Jon Hosler. That clearly makes a world of difference when it comes to taste.


The menu at The Porch changes about every two months. September’s empanadas featured Chicken Teriyaki, grilled pineapple and green onions—they were topped with a soy reduction and served on a bed of Napa cabbage slaw with chili paste dressing.
 “There’s always some kind of empanada on the menu,” said Hosler. Past empanadas have included hot wings with blue cheese, chicken Cordon Bleu and one packed with Indian flavors. “There are no boundaries at The Porch,” Hosler added. “We just have fun.”
That explains the Chicken N Waffles served with sautéed spinach and herbed maple syrup. The juicy fried chicken’s breading had a lovely cayenne kick and risks being positively addictive. Personally, I would trade the waffles and syrup for smashed potatoes (which is an option), but a couple of my tablemates loved the fun, soul-food dish.


Since the restaurant’s menu will switch to mostly Italian dishes in October, something The Porch does twice a year, Jon and his mother Caryl Hosler, the restaurant’s chef and co-owner, sent out Chicken Piccata next. The chicken breast was moist and super lemony, and the generous portion of capers added a delectable hint of pickled saltiness. The accompanying rustic smashed potatoes were the ideal vehicle for the deliciously zesty sauce.


We ended the meal with downright perfect Almond Roca Crème Brulee (now there’s a winning combination if I ever heard one) and a chunky carrot cake whose recipe dates back to Caryl Hosler’s grandmother (who was Jon Hosler’s great grandmother). The topping of fresh whipped cream sweetened with just a hint of brown sugar put this not-overly sweet dessert right over the top.


The Porch opened in Sisters three years ago. “We’re a great little secret,” said Jon Hosler. I’m guessing that with a chef whose credits include cooking at Jen’s Garden for four years and winning (with TR McCrystal) the Iron Chef title at Bite of Bend, a menu that lives up to its “crazy good comfort food” billing, and a setting that’s as cute as it is homey, The Porch won’t be a secret for long.

 

The Porch
243 N Elm Street; Sisters
541-549-EATS (3287)
Theporch-sisters.com
Owners: Caryl Hosler & Jon Hosler
Dinner: Friday-Tuesday 5–9pm
(closed Wednesday & Thursday)
Sunday Brunch (complete with build-your-own Bloody Mary bar)
10am–2pm

A Cut Above at 10Below

Read more: A Cut Above at 10Belowby LINDEN GROSS, One Stop Writing Shop


A top-notch restaurant not only needs a talented chef at the helm, it needs a staff that can produce that food in her absence. The Oxford’s 10Below delivers on both fronts thanks to Executive Chef Ingrid Rohrer, a California Culinary Academy graduate who moved to Bend after working at Bon Appétit Management Company as well as in kitchens across Northern California.

 

We started our meal with some of the most memorable scallops I’ve had. Ever. Dusted in porcinis and served with white trumpet mushrooms in a white wine cream sauce, the silver-dollar-sized scallops were crusty on the outside, succulent on the inside and absolutely delicious. “This is the reason you fall in love with scallops,” I announced. The tablemate sitting kitty corner to me was barely listening. “That sauce and I, we have a thing going on,” she announced dreamily. Truly a match made in heaven.

 

We also grazed on lightly-breaded, crispy masa-fried calamari served with a homemade lemon chipotle aioli dipping sauce that had a lovely smoky undertone, as well as oyster shooters coated in cornmeal and flash fried, then topped with a bright tomato-guajillo salsa. Both quite tasty, cooked perfectly, and fresh as could be.

 

The buffalo carpaccio marinated with beet powder and served with orange-pomegranate molasses and bits of Pierre Robert triple-cream cheese was less of a hit with the table. One fellow diner found the meat gamey. I didn’t, but I didn’t care for the sweetness of the meat, undoubtedly due at least in part to the beet powder marinade. On the other hand, the man at our table enjoyed the dish and what he perceived as its jerky-like flavor. “It’s a dude thing,” he announced.

 

We tried two salads, both as beautifully plated as everything else we’d been served to that point. The roasted beet salad with sweet heirloom tomatoes, arugula, pine nuts and Humboldt Fog cheese in a delicious orange-pomegranate molasses and tangerine vinaigrette once again proved a bit on the sweet side for me, but I’m sure my dad would have loved the triple play of sweet on sweet on sweet.

 

Having said that, I have to confess that the homemade candied pepper bacon on the iceberg lettuce wedge served with creamy gorgonzola dressing was positively addicting. We actually asked for more of both the bacon and the dressing. Go big or go home, as they say. And to think that my tablemates and I had actually debated about skipping that salad. My advice? Indulge. You won’t regret it.

 

We shared three different entrees, starting with two Oregon beef tenderloin filets wrapped in bacon and topped with a blackberry-gorgonzola demi-glace. At nine to ten ounces each, the filets were the biggest any of us have ever seen served in a restaurant. We all quickly concluded that they were also the most tender we’d had as well.

 

“That’s one of the best filets I’ve had,” said each of my friends including one who lived in Chicago for seven years. That’s saying something.

 

The chef’s daily special—seared yellow fin tuna with an Indian twist and related accompaniments—managed to encrust pungent South Asian spices onto the moist fish without overpowering its delicate flavor. That takes a deft hand.

 

We also sampled the wild salmon filet topped with mushroom duxelle, wrapped in Swiss chard leaves instead of parchment paper and steamed. “You can really taste the salmon,” one of my friends said. “The chard is really interesting. And there are nice kicks of lemon [from the accompanying passion fruit gastrique].”

 

We finished the meal with an assortment of desserts plated so beautifully it reminded me of a Kandinskimobile. Our hands-down favorites were the earthy cardamom carrot cake with candied ginger and the fun and absolutely delicious homemade ice cream and sorbet sampler. The flavors on the latter change daily, but our medley, which included blueberry cheesecake as well as peanut butter ice creams along with a cabernet-blackberry sorbetanda lemongrass, apple and agave one, will give you an idea of the delectable creativity at work at 10Below.

 

10 Below
10 NW Minnesota Avenue, Bend
Phone: (541) 382-1010
Executive Chef: Ingrid Rohrer
Hours: 6am–11pm
(midnight on Friday & Saturday)
with dinner from 5–10pm nightly

Run Away to the Perfection of Pronghorn’s Chanterelle

Read more: Run Away to the Perfection of Pronghorn’s ChanterelleBy LINDEN GROSS, One Stop Writing Shop & Oregon.LocalGetaways.com

 

Do you ever get that feeling that you want to get away even when you just can’t? For that staycation—or just an evening—that will make you feel as if you’ve left town, head to Pronghorn. Every time I turn on the road that leads there, the sky suddenly seems more expansive, the way it does in New Mexico. By the time I’ve reached the end of the long, winding road, I feel like I’ve left my regular life behind.


As much as I love this resort, I have to admit that I wasn’t expecting fabulous food at Chanterelle. It is, after all, a club restaurant. Wow, was I in for a surprise!
We settled in on the wide patio overlooking bright flower beds and a snow-capped Mt. Jefferson framed by Quaking Aspen rustling in the breeze. After cocktails and truffle popcorn, we moved into the elegant, Tuscan-style dining room with its floor-to-ceiling rock fireplace and view out to the Three Sisters.


Just as we had started to sip a lovely Turley Zinfandel selected from the vast wine list, our server Jeff showed up with Fontina cheese sticks that had been wrapped in prosciutto and grilled, topped with fried sage, skewered with a golf-tee toothpick and served over an aged balsamic reduction. “This should be breakfast food,” my friend and regular dining companion Leah said. “Or lunch,” her boyfriend Dave added. Why limit oneself? I thought.


The Windflower Farm Fresh Salad, which changes daily depending on what fresh greens are available, was a grilled kale Caesar. Tasty dressing notwithstanding, I didn’t love the texture of the grilled kale. But Leah did. “I would add a protein and just have this for dinner,” she said. Jeff confirmed that any protein including shrimp can be added to their salad, which is served with “the appropriate vinaigrette” for the greens of the day.


We moved on. I thought the six mustardy deviled egg halves would be the height of indulgence since two were topped with pepper bacon and two with Oregon truffle and caviar. As yummy as they were, they paled on the decadence scale compared to the burrata with Brussel sprout leaves that had been quickly fried and tossed in lemon juice and salt, then drizzled with Navidi’s Meyer lemon olive oil.


“This cheese [also drizzled with the Meyer lemon olive oil] makes me happy,” Leah announced. You betcha. The burrata has a skin like regular buffalo mozzarella, but an interior that’s so creamy it’s gooey. Combine that with the lemony saltiness of the fried Brussel sprout leaves and you’ve taken the concept of chips and dip to a sublime new level.


“You’ve got to try the pasta,” our server Jeff insisted. What a great call. The handmade fettuccine combined with the veal and fennel sausage Bolognese added up to rich comfort food at its finest.


We had all agreed that we had to have the elk tenderloin dusted with porcini and topped with a black truffle and mushroom demi-glace. How can you turn away from a dish that combines four of your favorites? The intense flavors melded together beautifully, but the meat could have been a bit more tender. Still, it was delicious. So was the accompanying creamed Swiss chard.


The Chef’s Creation of the day was blackened king salmon served over beluga lentils with pickled roasted purple cauliflower and a creole Béarnaise sauce. What a treat! The fish was perfectly seasoned and perfectly cooked. The lentils, which look like oversized beluga caviar, added texture. And the sauce was a study of buttery lusciousness.


We ended our meal with a fresh marionberry cobbler notable for its flaky crust and a rich, warm chocolate lava cake beautifully plated with flowers, berries and hazelnuts. A shared Chocolate-Covered Cherries dessert cocktail put the exclamation point on a meal that had been downright fantastic.


From the second we sat down we did, indeed, feel like we’d gotten away. Dining at Chanterelle is simply a first-class experience that is as understatedly elegant and as comfortably low key as the clubhouse itself. The food was lovely, the staff welcoming and the service impeccable. Now that’s what I call stress relief!

 

Chanterelle
65600 Pronghorn Club Drive, Bend
541-693-5399
Website: http://pronghorn.aubergeresorts.com
Food & Beverage Manager: Corey Friesen
Hours: Seven days a week 5– 9pm through the summer season. The restaurant is occasionally booked for private functions so please call ahead for reservations.

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