Immerse Yourself in Bend’s Awesome Gastropub

If you’re looking for a local brewpub where the food is as much of a draw as the craft beer, I have four words for you: Welcome to Immersion Brewing.
One look at the menu of this upscale, downhome gastropub, which opened just a year ago, tells the tale. Braised short ribs. Duck. Pork shank. Really?
After a quick tour of Immersion Brewing, where you can actually brew your own beer and then return to bottle it a few weeks later, my food posse and I agreed that we loved the rustic-meets-industrial décor as well as the vibe and stellar service. So far so good.
As soon as the beautifully-presented appetizers hit, we realized that good was about to turn to great.
The ahi poke with chunks of avocado, ancho-pickled cucumbers, radish and cascabel chili oil was as lovely to look at as it was to eat. Immersion Brewing gets its fish delivered at least four times a week, and wow does that show!
While the wild crab dip was the definition of creamy comfort food, the crab took such a backseat to the artichoke hearts and melted Romano cheese that it was hard to detect.
No such disappointment with the cornmeal-coated black bean cake—served with heavenly cubes of fried cotija cheese and avocado-cilantro crema. The surprising creamy, crunchy goodness was perfectly balanced by the accompanying pickled onions and fresh pico de gallo salsa. Hello! We’ll be revisiting that starter!
Our entrees were just as fantastic. Naturally, we had to try the burger since we were in a brewpub. The high-quality, house-ground beef was elevated by its close association with chopped bacon and smoked, herbed Rogue blue cheese. As good as the burger was, however, it didn’t hold a candle to the other entrees we tasted.
My three friends couldn’t decide which they preferred—the rich Rancher’s Pie (think Shepherd’s pie but with stout-braised short ribs that taste like first-rate pot roast, root vegetables and peastopped with creamy mashed potatoes) or the tender and tasty achiote-guajillo marinated pork shank with green chili polenta and caramelized pineapple salsa. (I told you this wasn’t your usual brewpub fare. Sure glad you moved here from Tucson, Chef Jack H. Tate!)
My favorite dish was the juicy, pan-seared duck breast with pancetta and spent grain risotto. The spent grain (i.e. the leftovers after the brewing process) not only added fabulous texture to the risotto, it imparted a hint of malt to the crispy duck skin.
Then there was the perfectly-grilled New York steak (served with fries), which was as good as what you’d get in a fancy steakhouse.
The fact that everything except the condiments and the Sparrow Bakery bread is made in house is apparent from start to finish. It doesn’t hurt that the desserts are just as beautifully presented as all the rest of the dishes. Take the light lemon custard panna cotta topped with fine strips of fresh lemon zest and blueberry-mint compote. Or the apple pie with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream, served in a small cast iron baking dish. Or the intoxicating chocolate hazelnut torte, with its brownie/cake-like texture, served with candied hazelnuts and chocolate ganache.
From start to finish, all that was missing from a high-end dining experience was the white table cloth and the expensive price tag. Whether you go for the craft beer and stay for the food or vis versa, you’ll leave Immersion Brewing happy.

Immersion Brewing
550 SW Industrial Way #185, Bend
Owners: Sean Lampe, Amanda Plattner & Rachael Plattner
Hours: Monday – Sunday 11:30am –close

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