Unless you’re a vegetarian, there can be few things more frustrating than ordering a sandwich with meat — and then wondering where the meat is.
That is definitely not a problem at Redmond’s casual Cross Creek Cafe.
Without exception, every lunch that I’ve ordered at Cross Creek has come with a generous portion of beef, pork or chicken, as well as one of the finest selections of beer in Central Oregon. I have no doubt that vegetarian diners would be equally pleased.
In recent weeks, I have had a hot sandwich, a burger and a cold wrap. With each visit, I was more impressed with the quality of the food. Owners Tam Mills and Noel Davis say that’s because they’ve applied Mills’ education as a pastry chef to layering flavors in all food they prepare. They pride themselves on their homemade sauces.
Although Cross Creek began as a bakery in February 1999, it took on cafe status about five years ago.
Decor and service
Before I visited Cross Creek, I had heard friends sing its virtues. I found the cafe on the corner of Eighth Street and Evergreen Avenue, a couple of blocks off Redmond’s busiest streets. Although construction in a large vacant lot across the street detracts from the mood, the little restaurant was bustling with midday business.
My first reaction, on stepping inside, was a shrug. The ambience is less than inviting. I’d call it “funky” at best. Nine tables in a long, narrow room seat about 30 patrons. A flat-screen television on the rear wall draws a few eyes. T-shirts and framed photos of hot rods hang on the walls, some of them beneath a large canoe packed with fishing gear.
Diners may order at a facing counter, where a display case exhibits some of the five dozen chilled, bottled craft beers always available for consumption. Another six draughts, the selection rotating monthly, are offered on tap.
Table service is also available during meal times. It’s matter-of-fact but quite friendly, and the turnaround time seems to be reasonably fast. That’s a good thing for diners looking for that second bottle of beer.
My expectations were not high when I ordered a “pulled pork griller.”
I was blown away. This may have been the best pork sandwich I’ve ever eaten. The shredded meat was tender and juicy, and it was not in short supply. It was served in a grilled and buttered garlic-sourdough roll with provolone cheese, thin slices of tomato, and two sauces, one a “bistro sauce” that appeared to be mayonnaise-based.
The other was an apricot barbecue sauce. Although it was applied sparingly, the apricot flavor was apparent and contributed a great deal to the flavor of the pork.
I also loved Cross Creek’s bourbon burger, one of a half-dozen hamburger selections. Made with a patty of lean ground beef that appeared thicker than the one-third pound advertised, it was cooked medium and served on an egg-rich bun spread with mayonnaise.
Onion “tanglers,” thinly sliced and deep-fried, and a bourbon barbecue sauce were the flavors that defined this sandwich. Cheddar cheese and green-leaf lettuce accented the tastes. Although I couldn’t find the tomatoes that the menu promised, I didn’t miss them. I wasn’t wowed by the accompanying French fries, which were little more than crispy and seasoned shoestring potatoes.
Other menu items
On another visit, I ordered the excellent, chilled Cross Creek wrap. A triple layer of sliced chicken breast meat was rolled in a pita pocket with mild havarti cheese, sweet orange peppers, lettuce and tomato slices. It was dressed with a tomato-cream cheese, a nice touch, but one that I thought was overkill in a wrap that already had tomato slices.
I have not yet tried the house-made soups and large salads, but if they are of similar quality to the sandwiches, I know I’ll love them.
Cross Creek’s dinner menu, served from 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays, is an expansion of the lunch menu. During these hours, the cafe offers burritos and tacos, burger and chicken-strip baskets, a crab-cake sandwich, and pork sliders with boysenberry chipotle sauce. A special children’s menu features popcorn chicken in a sweet-and-spicy sauce, macaroni-and-cheese triangles and peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches.
Cross Creek labels itself “Redmond’s premier beer cafe.” The selection of beers is, indeed, impressive. But I’m more likely to think of it as Central Oregon’s premier destination for a great sandwich.
The first public offering of wine from Doubleback , a northeastern Oregon estate winery owned by Bend resident and former football star Drew Bledsoe, is planned for February. The initial release of Walla Walla cabernet sauvignon will be 650 cases. Interested parties should sign up on the Doubleback mailing list at www.doubleback.com. Brothers Drew and Adam Bledsoe also own The Loft , a private wine club in downtown Bend.
Terrebonne Depot restaurant will host a five-course winemaker dinner with Culver’s Maragas Winery , beginning at 6 p.m. Jan. 19. Chef Kristin Yurdin’s menu will be highlighted by phyllo-dusted black cod with butternut squash, prosciutto-wrapped filet mignon, and a chocolate-and-chestnut marquise dessert with plum compote. The price is $60 with wine pairings, $45 without. Call 541-548-5030 for reservations. 400 N.E. Smith Rock Way, Terrebonne; www.terrebonne depot.com.
River Mill Grill (A-): Service is professional, portions are good, prices are moderate, and the food is excellent! The latest venture of well-known Central Oregon chef Axel Hoch has taken over the Mill Quarter space vacated in spring by Fireside red. Steaks and German-style dishes are specialties; happy-hour meals are a special value. 4 p.m. to close Tuesday to Saturday. 803 S.W. Industrial Way, Suite 202, Bend; 541-678-5666, www.river millgrill.com.
Black Bear Diner (B-): Grin, if you can bear it. The atmosphere is cute, with chain-saw black bears and stuffed animals everywhere, but food is mediocre and service is forgetful. Breakfast is better than dinner. Open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 1465 N.E. Third St., Bend (541-312-8327); 429 N.W. Cedar Ave., Redmond (541-548-5969); www.blackbeardiner.com.
Boston’s The Gourmet Pizza (B+): This full-service, casual-dining restaurant and sports bar has a menu that includes a variety of pastas and entrees, but come for the superb gourmet pizza and a crispy salad. The room is bright and spacious; service is excellent and prices are moderate. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 61276 S. U.S. Highway 97, Bend; 541-647-5050, www.bostons.com.
Pita Pit (B): Perhaps best known for serving healthy food into the wee hours of weekend mornings, this franchise operation also offers budget-priced breakfasts and lunches. Its pita-bread sandwiches are stuffed with a variety of meats and fresh vegetables. Open 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Wednesday, 9:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday. 806 N.W. Brooks St., Bend; 541-389-7482, www.pitapitusa.com.