Friday, September 30, 2005

El Caporal

El Caporal, Bend Oregon --

This place will always be a staple in Bend, Oregon. We went here tonight for a quick dinner and a couple of drinks, and again ended up being impressed with their unique niche in an over-populated Mexican restaurant area.

This is a "Family-Style" restaurant, which basically means that you can bring the little brats, feed them, AND entertain them at the same time. Thus, DH and I always sit in the lounge whenever possible. Tonight was no different. Gene, the bartender, is always incredibly courteous, remembers our names (and more importantly, our drinks), and is swift with his business while maintaining friendly conversation.

DH and I decided that we weren't "that" hungry, so we ordered the prawn fajitas to be split between the two of us. Less than 5 minutes later, we were presented with an enormous sizzling platter of sauteed giant prawns, onions, peppers, and other goodies, along with two stacks of VERY freshly-made corn and flour tortillas, as well as another plate full of fresh guacamole, sour cream, shredded cheese, lettuce, and refried beans. It wasn't good... It was GREAT! We feasted on succulent prawns and buttery onions in the softest, moistest tortillas known to man, and then reluctantly had to stop eating or end up bursting from gluttonous explosion. One meal, two people, and enough food for four. THIS is El Caporal.

On other occasions, we've tried the Burro Aculpulco, a very large burrito filled with scallops, crab meat, large prawns, cheese, sour cream and beans, topped with a creamy white sauce. We also enjoy the what should be "boring" quesadilla, which is served with almost TOO many side dishes to dip in.

Gene, the bartender, makes the best damned margarita in the English-speaking world -- it's got top-shelf tequila, a very light splash of cranberry juice, sour mix, Grand Marnier, and a topper of Chambord. The sweetness of the raspberry liquer balances the acidity of the sour mix, and makes for a very easy going drink.

Cheers to El Caporal for making a "family-style" restaurant still unique, value-priced, and still a locals hangout.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Shoji's, Bend Oregon --

So I'm not normally a "Showgirl", and the entertainment value of "dinner & a show" (Shoji's tagline) wouldn't ever convince me to dine at their establishment. I can't even remember the first time that I went to Shoji's in Bend -- but I do know that I am a regular now. Not for the crappy stir-fried tennis shoes and rice, but for the sushi!

Believe it or not, this gal LOVES sushi, and Shoji's has the best in Bend. I fear writing it here, for I don't want to have to start making reservations for the sushi bar. Typically, DH and I can walk in there any evening and snag a table, order our sushi, eat it all, and be out within an hour. It's almost as fast as the crappy Subway that shares the parking lot.

Shoji's sushi bar does everything right -- the rice is not too sticky, with the right blend of rice wine vinegar and sugar, and the fish is incredibly fresh and tender. The sauces are always used in the correct amounts, and the service is fast and courteously rude. I say rude because one of two of the guys that ends up behind the rolling counter is "Sam", who is either an immigrant from Japan or a pissed off Japanese-American, and has a bit of a friendly attitude. He kisses the girls, rips on the men, and plays "Sushi Nazi" very well. Unlike the trendy and snotty Kanpai restaurant in Bend, this place is unpretentious and has real food. I'd hate to ever set foot in Kanpai again. They had terrible service, and I felt as if I had to suck up to the server to get good service and my orders in a decent fashion. Others have written about their terrible experiences as well, so at least I know I'm not alone. I'll stick to low-key Shoji's and their wanna-be Sushi Nazi.

For the best on the menu, try the "Hashimotosan" made with tempura shrimp, avocado, cucumber, tobiko, topped with Unagi (freshwater eel). The "Keiska" is another favorite of ours, although at this point I forget what it even has in it! We love the edamame here (a much more generous portion that most Japanese restaurants) and the Hari Kari cocktail is a smash! Or should I say I AM a Smash after just one of these bad boys. The atmosphere at Shoji's sushi bar is lacking somewhat, but for the quantity, quality, and price that you pay, you will walk out incredibly pleased with your dining choice.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Blue Fish Bistro

Blue Fish Bistro, Bend Oregon --

Went here again last night. I really, really love this restaurant. This time I tried the seared marlin (swordfish) on a bed of linguine with a chantrelle mushroom buerre blanc (that's butter-wine sauce for those that aren't in the know). PERFECT! The chef (Matt?) can do no wrong! Add three glasses of nummy yummy wine and I was flying high! We walked to Goody's afterwards to get the visiting 11-year-old some regular ol' icecream (which is anything BUT "regular"), and then cruised downtown. Seemed to me that every restaurant was doing a grand business, even though I was told that it's the "Slow Time". Fat and happy. I need to climb the Butte this morning.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Cascade Lakes Lodge

Cascade Lakes Restaurant, Bend Oregon --

The Cascade Lakes Lodge is the first casual eaterie off of the main drag from Mt.Bachelor. It's cozy and, well, "Lodg-y", with exposed log beams, shiny dark floors, and fireplaces throughout. The service is excellent (always is), the atmosphere is good, the food is average.

We went to the Lodge last night for dinner, and again I was not impressed. I had the Salmon Caesar Salad, which is actually the best thing I've had on the menu. The other people in my party had the Greek Salad, the Buffalo Wings, and the Chicken Burger. Ehhhh. Nothing to brag about. The beer, on the other hand, has been upgraded in my book to a solid 7 out of 10 stars. I love the 20" Brown Ale, and the Blonde Bombshell is creamy and wonderful. The 20" Brown was on the Nitro tap, so we tried that first (as I love a good beer without all of the bubbles to hinder a fast first pint!). I didn't care for it as much as I do the Irish Stout that they seasonally have on Nitro. That Irish Stout makes an impression!

Anyway, this is probably the twentieth time I've been to the Cascade Lakes restaurant, and I just wish that the food would catch up to the quality of the brews.