Wednesday, November 30, 2005

La Rosa, Bend Oregon

La Rosa Mexican Restaurant, Bend Oregon --

Ah, La Rosa. How do I love thee?

If you haven't been to La Rosa, get off your butt and go --


La Rosa is the most authentic Mexican food I've found outside of Mexico, yet without the lard and beans. The recipes are varied and delicious, from the halibut salad to the crab enchiladas.... you cannot go wrong with your choice here.

My favorite is the Camarones La Rosa - tons of gigantic, fresh prawns on true spanish rice in a traditional red sauce, topped with cheese and salsa. Pair it with the La Rosa house margarita, and you'll be wondering why you even attempt to eat at any other Mexican restaurant in town! This is NOT like El Caporal or El Rodeo or Ranchero -- it is NOTHING like those restaurants. Each dish is unique to La Rosa, and each dish has distinguishing flavors and spices unlike those you are used to in the many Mexican restaurants in Bend, Oregon.

The service is impeccable, the food is outstanding, and the prices are very reasonable.

La Rosa
1444 NW College Way
Bend, OR 97701
(541) 318-7210

Mercury Diner

Mercury Diner, Bend Oregon --

Mercury Diner is not as well known as many of the mainstream restaurants in Bend, Oregon, but certainly deserves to be. The owner, Neal Kramer, has opened many restaurants in Bend, including Marz Bistro and Mangia Pasta. Each has been sold to new proprieters, and then Neal and his wife decided to get back into the swing of things with Mercury Diner. Thank God they did.

Mercury Diner is an eclectic, American-style restaurant with huge portions and a spicy finish. Neal hails from the south, and makes a mean BBQ dish as well as big ol' desserts to finish them off with. They used to serve breakfast on the weekends, but haven't for awhile (unfortunately - they're Benedict was the best in town!). The lunches are postponed until the renovations are finished, so you'll have to stick to dinner.

My favorite appetizer is the Ahi Carpaccio - paper-thin rare ahi tuna layered with a wasabi soy vinaigrette and FRIED capers. I could eat a bowl of those little cruncy green things. For dinner, I always have the rock shrimp chile relleno. It doesn't sound like much, but when you see it, you'll understand. The chile is brought in San Fransisco, and is GIGANTIC! The massive pepper is stuffed full of succulent rock shrimp, homemade red sauce, homemade spanish rice, tons of sticky Jack Cheese, and then lightly battered and deep fried. Oh Mama, it does it for me! Try the "Mercurita" for a refreshing change on the blended margarita, or ask for a great wine pairing. For a "Diner", this place keeps a good stock of great wines.

Be sure to save room for the platter of bread pudding, the authentic Key Lime Pie, or the Chocolate Pecan Pie. C'est Bien, Mon Amie!

Mercury Diner
1444 NW College Way
Bend, OR 97701
(541) 330-0037


Anthony's Homeport Restaurant, Bend Oregon --

Yes, I've been here before. And yes, I've written about it before. Yet, my dear, dear friends... I have NEVER, EVER consumed the main course item that was presented to me on a recent Sunday evening.

Fresh, NEVER, EVER frozen, GIANT Alaskan King Crab Legs.

Now, we all know about the previously frozen crab legs that we buy at the Albertson's One-Day Meat and Seafood Sale. For $7.99 a pound, how can you go wrong?

This, however, was so unlike anything I have ever eaten, so much so that I still can taste the butter lingering on my tongue.

Yours truly was presented with a $100 gift card for Anthony's from the company that I work for... they just want to keep me fat and happy! DH and I chose to go on a Sunday night, planning to take part in the "All-You-Care-To-Eat" crab feast that they do on those evenings. How polite. "Care To Eat" instead of "All You Can Eat". Trust me -- they're both the same. You try to eat enough to feel like you got the most for your money.

Our plans were pleasantly shattered, however, when we were struck by the tiny, clipped note attached to the bottom of the menu:


3/4 lb. served with sirloin steak, or a full pound for $38.95

Oh My! Oh YES! OH YES! CRABBBBBB! (Food does that to me...)

Enough with the chit chat, we each promptly ordered the crab and were told that there were only about four portions of this miraculous dish left. We picked at our appetizer (Hawaiian Nachos - taro chips topped with fresh, diced, raw ahi that's been marinated in mango and pineapple juices, topped with a wasabi aoli), and barely touched our salads.

Then, there they were. Opera music should have accompanied the arrival of such delectables. They were simply beautiful. Like the limbs of a supermodel, butchered and on my plate.

Glorious legs. Long and yet fat at the same time. Simply stunning.

DH and I were so quiet, and so wide-eyed when the platters were set before us. Not a word was spoken as we ate in marvel at the flavor that these fresh King Crab legs possessed.

I ate it plain.

I tried it in butter.

I dashed one bite with salt.

Whereas one is usually able to pick out bite-sized pieces of meat out of the shell, this crab meat was so thick that we actually needed a knife to saw through it once it was relieved of it's shell.

There is nothing a chef can do to make crab taste better than to leave it alone. But fresh? FRESH CRAB??? Oh, dear God.

We polished off our dinners, and sat back, sighing, the way that really content people do in movies and such. Our server asked us if we cared for dessert, and DH said that he'd love to try the hot apple crisp. I declined, then caught her attention as she turned and said, "You know, maybe I would like something. Do you have a dessert wine? Maybe a port?" She nodded, and proceeded to list off about ten ports that they had by the glass. I randomly chose one and off she went. A few minutes later, DH was presented with an absolutely marvelous HOT apple crisp with a crunchy oat crust and an enormous slab of vanilla bean ice cream melting on the top. I was given a very small dessert wine glass half-filled with a thick, maroon liquid that turned out to be a very flavorful port. We congratulated each other on a meal well done, and waited for the check.

Seeing as how we had the gift card, I didn't feel to guilty about our "Rock Star" dining experience -- until DH said "Wow. You're not a cheap date."

My dessert wine was TWENTY DOLLARS! (feign choking here) WHAT??? I guess a two-top that orders the fourty-dollar entrees without blinking should expect to be served top-shelf dessert wine, right?

I found myself trying to remember how dang GOOD that wine MUST have been for twenty bucks a shot, and we both realized that our server was a darned good salesperson. I believe though, that common courtesy would include a dialogue such as "... and on the higher-end of our dessert wine list, we offer the Late Vintage Warres Port or the Foo-Foo Graham's Label" so that the dining party would understand that these selections would be beaucoup moolah. Oh well. Lesson Learned.

We both still agreed that it was one of the best meals ever presented to us in Bend, and asked the manager while on our way out to please call us if it were ever offered at Anthony's in the future.

As if there were a hotline -- a bright red phone -- that they could pick up and have a direct line to my cell: " BrENDa! ALERT! Crab is in the house! ALERT!"

I am officially a food geek.

Dinner: $99.85
Drinks: $32.00
Tip: $40.00
Total: $171.85
Wallet? OUCH!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Staccato at the Firehall

Staccato's, Bend Oregon --

Staccato's, Bend Oregon --

No, they're not open. Not just yet.

However, I was invited to their "soft opening" last night. All of the food would be free, with only our beverages charged to the bill. Of course, I said "To Hell With The Diet" and dressed to kill, prepared to feast like a rottweiler on a bear hunt.

Staccato's is located in the old Firehouse on NW Minnesota Avenue, directly across from the ugliness that is the soon-to-be parking garage. The owners of Bend's newest eaterie spent bookoo dollars renovating the place, and it looks fantastic! All of the original brickwork still sets the tone, and they've added beautiful copper accents throughout the restaurant. The restaurant is three-part -- an open seating arrangement in the main dining room, a cozy side room that could be a private party room, and the intimate "fireplace" room in the back. The kitchen is open, similar to the Blacksmith's setup, and the place was PACKED with employees. I counted at least a dozen people in the kitchen alone. The setting is simple and elegant, with taupe linen tablecloths, simple glassware, and heavy place settings. I also loved the chandeliers and lighting throughout the restaurant -- very pleasing.

We arrived on time, and were escorted to our table for two. We were immediately welcomed by our server, and promptly offered beverages. Our server wasn't certain if they had sparkling water, and had to go and check with the bartender. After our drinks appeared, we ordered an appetizer to share: the Portabella Mushroom, marinated and grilled, layered with crispy eggplant, and served with a salsa criolla, pesto, and gorgonzola. The presentation was out of this world, and we enjoyed every bite. The only drawback that we both agreed on was that the portion was very small. We each had about four bites of the dish.

The menu was very unique, and full of items that I had never heard of. "Culotte" and "Criolla", "Lonza" and "Chiffonade" and "Sugo Sauce". I had questions. Our server fumbled for answers. He couldn't tell us if the sugo sauce was made of wine or stock, and his explanation of the culotte was "A type of steak, or roast, or beef". Hmmm. Let's stick to something we know, we decided. For dinner, I ordered the Trout, and DH ordered the Salmon. Unfortunately, when our food arrived, we were presented with two Trout dinners. We pointed out the mistake to our server, who was very apologetic while saying over and over "I heard you say two trouts" and "I even wrote it down". I explained that there is no way that DH ordered the Trout, because he hates trout. But instead of saying "I'll get a Salmon entree as soon as possible" he said, "Well, why don't you try it and see if you like it. If you don't, I'll go see how long it will take to get a Salmon out here."


There was no way we were going to make him go back to the kitchen and explain that his very first table's order got screwed up. We both felt bad for the guy.... stammering his way through the menu, not being able to answer all of our questions, and then serving us the wrong meal.

I gave all of my potato croquettes to DH, and he gave me his fish.

The trout was good.

Yep. Just good.

It was cooked perfectly, but I was a bit disappointed in the really boring, buttery sauce it was in. The menu described it as carmelized onions, roasted garlic and slow roasted tomatoes. It was more of a buttery blend with stewed onions, boiled garlic, and stewed tomatoes. Icky. The fish itself was good, though, and again, the portions were very small. Each entree served two very thin, 4 inch square filets, and about 5 potato balls. DH liked his balls, though (no pun intended).

Another bad move on the server's part, and I just HATE this so much -- I was finished with my fish, and DH was still eating his balls (ha ha ha) when our server came by and took my plate. So here I am sitting, with nothing in front of me, watching DH eat his balls. It's really uncomfortable, so DH says to our server, mouth full of potatoes, "Oh, go ahead and take mine. I'm done, too" when he's really not done.

C'mon. It's like "Fine Dining 101". You never clear the table if someone is still eating!

Anyway, DH said that maybe we should stop at Taco Bell on our way home, which is code for "This place has small portions". Too bad.

We skipped on dessert, even though the menu was very enticing. I'm still trying to follow somewhat of a diet, kids!

I've posted the menus that I, BrENDa, borrowed from Staccato's, knowing that all of you would be SO interested in seeing them. The pains I go through for you all....


Thursday, November 10, 2005

Chez BrENDa

My House, Bend Oregon --

I can't believe how GOOD I'm being! I haven't eaten out since the first of the month -- am on a diet. I'm getting pretty creative in the kitchen, though. Blackened Ahi, broiled cajun salmon, vegan spaghetti... so many dishes I've never made before! I get one cheat meal every 7 to 10 days, so I'm sure that we'll use that for our dining out priveleges. It will be Anthony's this Tuesday. I'm already planning it.

I'm doing the new "Body Restorations" plan - conducted at Aspire Health & Fitness in Bend. Have you seen their ads in the Bulletin? "Imagine looking at yourself in the mirror in 12 weeks and giggling." We'll see. It cost a lot more money than I planned on spending, but I figure it'll even out to what I normally spend eating out almost every day.

So once I lose these 20 pounds, I can go back to eating out every day, right? :o)

Look for my HUGE Cheat Meal review on Wednesday!