by 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)
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