Best Fine Dining Restaurants Bend And Central Oregon
Best Fine Dining: Central Oregon (Bend)
Everyone has a definition it seems of 'fine dining'. To some folks, the term fine dining means so much silverware that you're lost as to what utensils to use for what. Another person defined it on a blog I read recently as 'without ketchup'.
When I think of the best fine dining in Central Oregon, Bend in particular, I think of many restaurants. To be honest, these 4 are my favorites for many reasons but much of the reason that my nod goes to them as being some of Bend's finest is based on the fact that they serve consistently delicious, wonderfully prepared food and most of all, the atmosphere of the restaurants is relaxed.
Fine dining should not be painful. Fine dining should also not cost you a week's salary. I think all of these restaurants fit the bill. There are so many restaurants in Bend that are wonderful, it is truly hard to pick the best fine dining - but these are mine for now!
Blacksmith Steakhouse, Bar and Lounge
The Blacksmith Steakhouse is situated in downtown Bend in the old Pearson Blacksmith building. It would seem that since its opening, it has been a favorite for the locals as well as the out-of-towners. It has been one of the most popular restaurants in Bend since it opened some 6 or so years ago. The restaurant was rated as one of the best new restaurants in the world when it opened by Conde Nast Traveler magazine. Blacksmith was also a 2009 Gusto Magazine Reader's Choice winner.
The building that was the former blacksmith shop only enhances the restaurant's décor. You can almost feel a palpable warmth coming from the old brick walls. The ambiance has you on opening the door and stepping in. Whenever we've eaten at the Blacksmith, we've had the most enjoyable and relaxed dining experience.
Executive chef Gavin McMichael has a background of culinary arts from training in southern French restaurants to being a chef on luxury yachts and preparing meals for celebs like Mick Jagger and Tommy Hilfiger. His concept he calls "New Ranch Cuisine" is certainly the hit of Central Oregon and most visitors to the area have to check out The Blacksmith!
The atmosphere is relaxed but manages to be elegant at the same time. The menu is made up of many unique dishes from appetizers to desserts - things you would never expect such as Seafood Corndogs or Campfire Trout.
The Blacksmith is open 7 days per week from 4:30 to close. Happy hour is from 4:30-6:30 daily and 9:00 to close.
From 4:30-5:30 daily, Sunset Dinners are offered - a 4-course meal for $24.00.
Here are just some of the offerings for all categories.
- Blacksmith burger
Blacksmith sliders or tacos
Smoked mac & cheese
Cowboy chicken picatta
Warm spinach & bacon salad
Beer lovers doughnuts
Not Your Mother's Bread Pudding (made with lemon-bacon sauce)
- Salmon Caribe (served with black bean banana puree)
Rancher rib-eye (Blacksmith beef is from organic and natural programs)
Cedar brined pork chop
Blacksmith's surf and turf
Sides and Salads: Many
choices such as mac & cheese, green bean sauté, BBQ rice, classic
mashers, steak fries and polenta fries; many different kinds of salad
- Ice cream trio - 3 homemade ice creams
Fostered bananas split
Blacksmith's wonka bar - brownie with chocolate mousse, peanut butter ice cream & caramel sauce
There are also recipes posted on the Blacksmiith website where you can order several different steakhouse rubs and salts that are sold here locally in many supermarkets and Bed, Bath and Beyond.
You can also purchase a cookbook on-line at the website - A Chef's Bounty, Celebrating Oregon Cuisine.
Blacksmith offers a full bar and extensive wine list.
Don't miss out on the entertainment as well on Fridays and Saturdays - starting at 10:00 p.m. and no cover charge.
New Ranch Cooking from Blacksmith Chef
The Jackalope Grill Restaurant
The Jackalope Grill is known best for its NW cuisine. It has been dubbed Best Fine Dining and Best NW Cuisine by many food writers. This is another of Bend's dining treasures that you have to experience to savor the wonder of this chef's creations.
Jackalope Grill is run by a husband and wife team who came to Bend by way of Utah where they turned a failing business into a thriving fine dining establishment. It is no wonder then that they have succeeded in remaining at the top of the fine dining totem pole here in Bend for so many years.
Despite a 'strange' location as the restaurant is located in a strip mall, the Jackalope is always busy and always being enjoyed by new clientele. Chef Tim Garling grew up in the environs of Seattle and then traveled in France where he added to his culinary expertise by sampling the cuisine of Europe and then attending culinary school there. He uses his varied background when creating his one-of-a-kind recipes.
Tim's wife Kathy manages the wine end of the restaurant and the Jackalope received the 2008 Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for its extensive wine list.
Jackalope uses organic products and Chef Tim combines a little bit of everything in his unique dishes. The menu is made up of a combination of wild game offerings, seafood, pasta, poultry and Oregon beef.
The Jackalope offers a fine dining experience that is relaxing and soothing. They also have a private dining room for larger parties. They offer the extensive wine list and a full bar.
You can also find recipes on the Jackalope website including one for a deliciously easy (and impressive) Oregon pear croustade! Chef Tim also offers cooking classes.
The Jackalope Grill is open Tuesday through Saturday from 5:00 p.m. The restaurant also does catering and banquets.
Just some of the Jackalope Grill's delicious fare:
Starters: Clams, grilled prawns, medallions of elk, soups and salads (field greens and Caesar)
Entrees: Filet mignon, alder-smoked salmon, pork tenderloin medallions, flatiron steak, rack of lamb, seafood pastas, a 4-cheese stuffed chicken breast and the unique Jaeger schnitzel of German background (pork tenderloin with red cabbage, potato pancake and mushroom gravy)
Desserts: These are created daily and always changing.
What is a jackalope? A mythical creature part rabbit with antelope or deer horns, reported to be drawn by the scent of alcohol, surprisingly appearing to those imbibing in fine wine and other spirits! Their ability to copy human singing supposedly lulls one to sleep. You be the judge - was it the jackalope or the alcohol?
Either way, the Jackalope Grill is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy a wonderful meal.
The Jackalope Grill
900 Wall Street
900 Wall Street is a unique restaurant with unique history. Many folks will recall it up until January of 2009 as the famous Merenda's Restaurant in Bend. However, after the owner of Merenda's fell heavily into debt and left the country, it seemed this extremely popular restaurant was going to close forever. Rising to the occasion though, the folks that worked at the restaurant banded together and reopened it several months later under new ownership - and now we have 900 Wall Street!
This is a beautiful restaurant which also is unique with its brick and wood interior and high vaulted ceiling which leads to loft seating upstairs. On any evening, you will find 900 Wall Street alive and kicking with people of all ages - in for a celebratory dinner or part of the happy hour crowd.
Catch the 3:00-6:00 p.m. specials any day of the week. 900 Wall is open 7 days per week for lunch and dinner. There is also sidewalk seating which on a beautiful day is sheer heaven.
900 Wall was a Gusto Magazine 2009 Reader's Choice Award winner and is one of the most popular restaurants in Bend. It combines a wonderfully elegant ambiance with a relaxed atmosphere and is part of the pulse that is the heart of downtown Bend.
The menu is varied and usually is classified as Contemporary American cuisine. Here are some of their delicious offerings:
- Small plates of various foods
Oysters on the half shell
Soups and salads
- Several Italian dishes such as capellini and risotto
Halibut and other fish entrees
Chicken rotisserie with Swiss chard and asparagus
Duck confit with beans and sausage
Flat iron steak
Vegetables and sides: English peas, potato puree, asparagus and potato gratin, fava beans and chickpeas to name a few
Desserts: Prepared daily and subject to change.
900 Wall offers a full bar and extensive list of wines and local brews.
Lunch Menu: The lunch menu has many of the same items on the dinner menu though not as many. The lunch menu leans more towards salads and terrines (warm spinach salad or beet and goat cheese terrine), a few Italian entrees (semolina gnocchi and asparagus risotto), stone-oven pizzas, and many delicious sandwiches such as prime rib, portobello, pulled pork, crispy halibut and burgers.
Whatever time of day you pop into 900 Wall, you won't be disappointed! The atmosphere is cheery and comfortable and the food is rated some of the best in Bend and Central Oregon.
Scanlon's Restaurant has to be the most unique fine dining establishment in Bend, Oregon. Mostly because it happens to be part of the Athletic Club of Bend! I've heard of juice bars and pubs being part of an athletic club, but never a fine dining restaurant. However, it totally works!
This is one of my favorite restaurants simply because it combines elegance with casual. Whether you decide to come in to watch a game or sporting event on TV and sit in the bar, or you meet friends and go into the spacious dining room, you know you will get excellent food every time and you'll enjoy the atmosphere.
An added bonus is that Athletic Club of Bend offers babysitting while you dine! Call ahead for reservations for this service but it is available to all who dine at Scanlon's. If you stay at the Inn at the Seventh Mountain (a resort close by) you also get complimentary membership passes to the Athletic Club of Bend.
Scanlon's is a great place to dine simply because despite its fine dining menu, it has a relaxed and comforting atmosphere, whether you dine outside on the patio, inside in the dining room, or at the cozy bar. If you plan on going for a sporting event, make sure you arrive early because it will be standing room only!
Scanlon's uses locally grown beef and they also offer Budget Maker dinners Tuesday through Thursday.
Scanlon's serves lunch and dinner Monday through Sunday. Happy hour is from 3:00-5:30 p.m.
The Courtyard Cafe provides muffins, bagels, specialty coffees, salads, smoothies and sandwiches.
Some of their fare includes the following:
- Organic baby beets
Sourdough flat bread
Salads such as Gorgonzola with hazelnuts
Caesar with sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts
Grilled steak salad
- Pasta dishes such as shrimp pasta
Wood-fired oven pizza such as shrimp or chicken and pesto pizza
Asparagus and Gruyere cheese tart
Range free roasted chicken
Poached Alaskan halibut
Double cut pork chop
Grilled hanger steak
Rack of lamb
Sides: Many different salads and soups and a veggie platter of 4 different vegetables such as peas and carrots, asparagus, sauteed spinach, green beans, potato puree
Desserts: Made daily and subject to change daily - always a wonderful variety.
Scanlon's has a great wine list, serves local brews and has a full bar.
They have a bar menu with many of the above starters but also include such things as:
- Chili bowl
Baked mac & cheese
Italian beef sandwich
Grilled steak sandwich
Game day menus may offer some of these great foods:
- Baked nachos
Bratwurst boiled in beer
Baked hummus platter
Whatever the occasion, dining at Scanlon's is a delicious experience and sure to please anyone's palate.
Scanlon's at Athletic Club of Bend
Fine Dining in Central Oregon (Bend)
Best Fine Dining: Central Oregon (Bend)
No matter where you go in Bend, Oregon, I don't think you can go wrong for finding wonderful restaurants. There seem to be so many in Central Oregon that it is hard to know which ones to pick. Making sure you do your homework to check out the cuisine and price range before you go can save surprises later. With menus on line so often, that is an easy thing to do.
The restaurants I have highlighted here are basic American cuisine but the Bend area is literally filled with many other restaurants of different cuisines that are equally stellar.
Fine dining should never make anyone feel uncomfortable. "Foodies" like me are typically hobbyists who follow cooking shows or search on line for recipes to recreate something we've had at a restaurant. While fine dining can be about presentation, it is not all that fine dining is about. Fine dining is also about encouraging people to enjoy their food and perhaps want to recreate it themselves - or sometimes it's just about enjoying it.
Fine dining is also about having a good meal in a wonderful atmosphere and feeling like you got what you paid for when you leave. That doesn't mean it has to cost an arm and a leg either.
Fine dining should be just that - fine/wonderful/enjoyable to the max. You should always remember the meal and the good feelings that the meal gave you. Fine dining should never be a bad experience.
Hopefully with these restaurants to choose from, you'll enjoy the experience.
Image of Blacksmith Restaurant, Steakhouse, Bar and Lounge - Bend, OR - by written permission of Paul Owen
Images of Blacksmith Restaurant and offerings - by written permission of Paul Owen
Images of Jackalope Grill - by written permission of owner/Chef Tim Garling