Looking for a place with lovely cocktails, good food and affordable price points? You owe it to yourself to try Rockin’ Dave’s Backstage Lounge on Greenwood between seventh and eighth in Bend. I’m not talking about the bagel bistro, which is still awesome for breakfast and lunch, but rather the joint Dave Flier (aka Rockin’ Dave) opened last fall in the other half of the building.
I remember Dave talking about his vision for the Backstage Lounge several years ago.
“Vinyl records on the walls,” he had said. “Shag carpet.”
“Uh oh,” I thought at the time. But somehow the small space has come together in a charming and noise-dampening way, which makes it one of a kind in Bend. The ridiculously reasonable happy hour pricing also sets it apart. Where else can you get chips n’ French onion dip, a divine deviled egg sampler or a fat, juicy pork taco for $3?
And in a town replete with signature cocktails, the Whiskey Sour (frothy egg white optional), the Comfortably Numb with Dave’s lavender-infused vodka, Grand Marnier, lime and a splash of cranberry and the Rockin’ ‘Rita with Lunazul silver tequila, Gran Gala, OJ, homemade sour mix and a Tuaca float all stood up and sang their own songs.
With our premium cocktails in hand, my friends and I dove into an array of appetizers. In addition to creamy, assorted deviled eggs and the succulent, spicy pork taco that I wish I was eating right now, we tried the Saucy Balls that offer, as Dave says, “the best of Mom’s crusty meatloaf” in a single, large, saucy and slightly spicy bite. We loved the heat and the meat, which like all of Dave’s products is locally sourced whenever possible. The accompanying potato wedges in a sour cream, Worcestershire, garlic and onion sauce could easily become addictive.
Then there were the crispy Draper Valley chicken wings slow-simmered in bacon fat and given a Jamaican spin. Nothing like confit in pig done reggae-style. While the accompanying Ranch dressing seemed pedestrian compared to the rest of the offerings, the super generous charcuterie platter made up for that and then some. Just picture a wood board piled high with two to three cheeses (including homemade pimento cheese), sausage, cured meat, roasted red peppers and cauliflower, spicy garlic, pickled watermelon rind, pickled egg, stone ground mustard and toasted slices of baguette.
We all concluded that we would be revisiting this appetizer sooner rather than later.
Feeling like we had already eaten dinner, we managed to inhale every single bite of Rockin’ Dave’s perfectly balanced golden beet and lettuce tossed with creamy goat cheese and a slightly sweet beet- and orange peel-infused vinaigrette as well as fresh strawberries, which added sweet-tart brightness to the earthy beets.
We split a Reuben, because how can you not knowing that Dave cures and smokes all his own meats. Having been temporarily transported back to Manhattan’s now-defunct Carnegie Delis I enjoyed the rich pastrami, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island on grilled rye, I was brought back to the present with the bacon cheeseburger rice bowl with brown rice, seasonal vegetables, salsa, avocado and a fried egg topped with micro greens, which showcased just how good burger can be.
Next time, I might have to indulge in the chicken, pork belly and jalapéno rice bowl or the turkey, bacon and spinach rice bowl if I can make it past
Rockin’ Dave’s Backstage Lounge offers everything you want in a neighborhood hangout: a friendly, comfortable space, good tunes, top-notch drinks and tasty farm-fresh food that reflects the produce supplied by Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) as much as it does Dave’s creativity. Give it a try and you, too, may decide to become a regular.
Rockin’ Dave’s Backstage Lounge
661 NE Greenwood Ave., Bend
Open Tuesday– Saturday 4pm–close