We just returned from a quick trip to Bend to buy the rest of our TVs, lighting fixtures, and interior paint for our restaurant. I had a 10% off coupon for Lowe’s, and it seemed redundant to use it in Idaho where the sales tax is 6%. I also wanted to see my parents before we opened the restaurant, as I know that we’ll soon be working 25-hours a day, 8-days a week and probably not be back to Bend anytime soon.
We have been gone from Bend for almost one year to the day, and it has grown immensely in that time. There are towering buildings downtown, and others that are completely gone! It seems that there are thousands of people either driving or walking through downtown as well, giving it that Big City feel. Who are all of these people? Are they shopping? Working?
Warning: Long post ahead. It’s only going to be interesting to my friends and family, or people with too much free time on their hands.
We got in on Sunday evening, and immediately contacted my friend Jon (www.TheBrewSite.com) to have him pick up a growler of our local brewery’s dark IPA that we had driven over for him. He brought the family over to the vacation home we were at, and we caught up a bit.
Afterwards, Whitey and I met Shannon and Brian at Anthony’s. I was craving their Hawaiian Nachos, which is rare ahi tuna marinated in tropical juices, cubed and topped on taro chips. They were out. So then we thought we’d get our usual Sunday night Anthony’s dinner of All-You-Can-Eat crab for $19.99. Wrong. The price is now (just one year later) $34.99. Walter Tango Franco?!??? There was no way we were going to pay almost double what we were used to. We split a poke appetizer instead and each had a salad.
The next morning, we decided to walk over to the Westside Cafe for breakfast. It was right around the corner, and I love their scrambles or their Hobo Breakfast. We sat down, looked over the menus, then stared at each other in disbelief. The scrambles were now almost ten bucks, and the Hobo — the HOBO BREAKFAST that used to be $6.95 — was now $9.50. Pancakes were almost ten bucks, and if you wanted syrup it was an extra dollar. William Tenacious Freakazoid!!! Are you kidding me? Whitey said out loud what I was thinking: I’d rather drop $35 bucks for a nice lunch than spend it on eggs and toast. Our favorite breakfast at our local diner in Baker is $3.75. I know we’re sounding super cheap, but c’mon… a dollar for syrup? We walked out, and then went across the street to Big O Bagel. I had an Eye-Opener with Egg, Cheese & tomato on an Everything Bagel, and Whitey got an open-faced bagel with avocado and cheddar melted on it. Six bucks for both of us, and they were delicious.
We then headed out to do our big spending spree. We met up with my mom, and started at Costco. We ended up with a 50″ plasma HDTV by Panasonic with an anti-glare screen, and two 32″ Vizio LCD flat screens. We also purchased a pretty nice theater speaker system and DVD combo so that we can have surround sound during the NFL games at the restaurant.
Lowes was next, where we bought 8 gallons of paint, 5 ceiling fans, 4 lighting fixtures, and all of the things we needed to host a painting party at the pizzeria. My mom chose out the colors to paint the walls – Eddie Bauer Claret (think Tomato Soup) and a Golden Cowslip (a gold-yellow). I had seen the Eddie Bauer Cabin Red on the Minkz’ blog, and thought it was perfect. Mom said it was too dark for a large area such as our dining room, and chose the next lightest color of Claret. Thanks for the recommendation, though, Minkz.
I’ll say this, when we went to buy all of our big ticket items on Monday morning (thinking it would be the slowest time of the week), I was amazed at how many people were out and about. It seemed to be mostly moms, towing kids around at Best Buy, Costco, Lowes, Macy’s, etc. The parking lots were all full, and there didn’t seem to be any cash registers that weren’t taking in money.
My mom suggested that we go to a discount store, Ross, to look for restroom mirrors. The parking lot was packed, and there were long lines at the registers when we first walked in. The store looked like a tornado had whipped through it; clothes everywhere, to the point where you’re driving your cart over brand new t-shirts and jeans. There were so many people crammed into each aisle, with absolutely no common courtesy as to parking their cart out of each other’s way, or keeping their kids nearby. It reminded me of when I lived in Los Angeles (for a short time) – about 90% of the customers were speaking Spanish. There were also a couple of ladies leaning against a rack talking about who they were seeing for Botox injections. No kidding, it was unbelievable. At one point, I looked at my mom and told her that I had to get out of there. I felt like I was suffocating. Maybe that’s what a panic attack is.
We had a great lunch at Kebaba, a new Mediterranean restaurant on Newport Avenue. I love the remodel that they’ve done. They had painted the interior similar colors that we had just chosen for our restaurant, so it was great timing for us to view what it was going to look like. I ordered the Curried Tempeh pita roll, and it was simply fantastic. The pitas are all handmade, and were soooo good! It was spicy, with big currants and cashews. The fries that I stole off of my mom’s plate were really yummy, too. They were covered with an herb mixture of some sort. Parsley and garlic? I wonder if Kebaba’s business is going to drop during the winter; it seems that 1/2 of their seating is outdoors.
We parted ways with my mom, and Whitey and I went to see Shannon and Brian at their new house. I was driving, and we got lost, because if I don’t have a map that’s what happens. While trying to figure out where they lived, we ended up driving through all of the new neighborhoods that were built off of Brookswood. I had no idea there were houses back there. Wow. We finally found where we were trying to get to, and had a quick tour before getting back to the vacation home with only ten minutes to get ready for dinner.
Dinner was at Deep, and I walked in expecting to be disappointed. I had it firmly planted in my mind that there was no way that I was going to be blown away by Jody Denton’s latest restaurant. Boy, was I wrong.
The atmosphere is unlike what I expected; I expected intimate, dimly-lit, lots of candles and a feng shui type of decor. Instead, it was open and airy, with a crazy water feature overhead. We sat upstairs in the loft area, overlooking the diners below, and yelling at each other over across the table. It was VERY LOUD! (WHAT DID YOU SAY??? I SAID, IT’S LOUD IN HERE! WHAT ARE YOU GETTING TO DRINK, MOM???!???)
We started with a Strawberry Lemon Drop cocktail (it had a fancy-pants name of some sort), which was perfectly made (not too sweet, which is easy to do). Then, we began ordering everything on the menu. We had the tofu & corn charred fritters, the calamari, albacore nigiri, and then quite a few large rolls of sushi including the Ceviche Roll, White Dragon, Red Dragon, Black Dragon, Golden Dragon, the Tempura Shrimp Roll, and lastly the Kobe Beef Tatake.
That last one was a crazy dish. Raw beef with a quail egg, minced onions, garlic, roe, and spicy chili paste which you mix all together, then eat on a deep-fried seaweed chip. I didn’t try that, but everyone else at the table loved it. Raw beef = Yuck to me. The sushi, however, was out of this world! The fish was super fresh, and the flavors of each one was tremendous. The Red Dragon was my favorite, and the calamari was superb, done with little surprise bites of breaded jalapeno, carrot, and green beans. I also appreciated that my second cocktail, a Bombay Sapphire martini, was a very healthy pour. Many times at fancy-pants restaurants, they serve little mini-cocktails. This one was a very generous drink. We finished our meal with an order of the Creme Brulee Trio to share, which was infused with flavored tea: Lavender, Green, and a Chamomile Honey. Delicious! We all ate until we were full, and the bill was just a hair over $200. I didn’t think that was unreasonable, as we had five people (although my aunt only ate the tatake) with four cocktails, one glass of wine, and six beers. Not bad.
(Here’s my mom and aunt enjoying dinner)
We ditched the parents, and then went to our favorite Sports Bar – Sidelines on Wall Street. The owner is a good friend of ours, and we were able to sit with him and catch up over drinks. They had just finished painting the interior, and the place looked great. We were only there for about ten minutes when a gaggle of girls walked in, followed (of course) by a herd of boys. They all looked about 16-years-old, but showed their IDs and were permitted to order froufrou drinks. All of a sudden, we were in a pretty packed bar, and the music was turned up. We asked Trevor how business was, because obviously, it was a Monday night and the drinks were flying across the bar. He said that every week, there are about five new 21-year-olds celebrating their birthdays at his bar. That’s five new regulars. As the town has grown, all of those families that have moved there brought their teenagers who are now of legal drinking age. Business is good.
On Tuesday, we went to visit a friend’s new restaurant, Hola. It was unbelievable, and I’m not just saying that because we like the guy. The specialty cocktail menu was insane – one of the drinks is made with an avocado puree. I had the Passion Fruit Caipirinha which was truly a treat, made with lilikoi (Lily-Ko-Ee) extract (not concentrate) and rum. Whitey had a crazy margarita with freshly-squeezed lime and orange juice. For lunch, we shared the Shrimp Empanadas and the lunch special; a roasted chile stuffed with crab, prawns, and caramelized peppers, topped with a smoky red sauce and a light white sauce. It was so, so good. Marcos brought out a Peruvian hot sauce that amazed us as well. It was super flavorful, like a smoky/vinegar/red chile sauce until about five seconds later and POW! tons of hot coated my tongue. Fantastic.
I dropped Whitey off to nap away the lunchtime margarita while I did some last-minute shopping with mom. She picked me up, and took me back to Eddie’s Iron Horse where she had just spent some time picking out stuff for me to look at. My own personal shopper. Sweet.
Eddie’s Iron Horse is the second-best store in Bend (the first being my parents place, of course). Eddie’s is stuffed with an eclectic selection of home decor, antiques, furniture, tschotskis, and really cool stuff that you try to justify that you need. I’ll have to do an entire post on Eddie’s sometime soon. Suffice to say that the place rocks.
After finalizing the last of the shopping for the pizzeria, Whitey and I decided that we should stay one more night instead of driving four hours in the dark back to Baker. So that night, we went to the best dining in Bend —
my parents house.
Mom made blackened catfish and a pasta salad with enormous prawns, sun-dried tomatoes, and artichoke hearts. We sat out on their back deck, sun setting, and had a really great time. I was surprised to hear mom singing along to Amy Winehouse’s hit song “Rehab” while preparing dinner. Who knew that she was still cool?
We finished dinner, then drove back to the house that we were staying at. It’s right around the corner from the Westside Tavern, so we walked over to shoot a couple games of pool. The Westside used to be a locals beer bar, but they’ve since started serving hard liquor. The place was cleaner than I remembered it, and I smoked Whitey at two games of billiards before he won the last game. We left the Westside and walked next door to pick up the “I’ve been drinking at the Westside Tavern so I need 7-11 nachos covered in gooey orange cheese”. Not good.
Wednesday morning, we cleaned the house and headed out fairly early. The truck was filled to maximum capacity with all of our equipment and paint, and so the drive home was a bit slower than when we had driven over. It was so good to roll into Baker City and see our town again. We unloaded all of the boxes, then went over to MIL’s house for dinner and a very competitive game of Quiddler.
It was great seeing my friends, checking out Bend and the changes in the last year, and just getting away for a few days…
but it sure is nice to be home again.