Country-western music fills the bar room. NASCAR auto racing plays on several televisions. Video-game machines line two walls.
Terrebonne’s Pump House Bar & Grill doesn’t try to hide the fact that it is a country-style establishment: Its menu even features a dish called the “Redneck Benedict,” and it has nothing to do with poached eggs or English muffins.
But the food and service are a step above typical roadhouse.
Located on U.S. Highway 97 at the junction leading to Smith Rock State Park, the two-year-old Pump House might be a convenient stop for anyone traveling between Redmond and Madras.
The food is predictable at worst, home-style gourmet at best. Service can be merely cordial or it can be downright friendly.
There’s little doubt that the establishment caters to the ranching community of northern Deschutes and southern Jefferson counties. The walls feature a variety of Western-themed art. A modern open-air deck, facing away from the highway, is fully the size of the indoor dining room, which itself is half the size of the large bar.
On my first visit to the Pump House, I sat at the bar and ordered a burger and a side salad. The server was no-nonsense but efficient, taking my requests and delivering drink and food in a timely fashion.
The salad failed to impress me. It was mostly chopped iceberg lettuce, blended with a touch of shaved red cabbage and carrot, along with a half-slice of tomato and two raw red-onion rings. My ranch dressing was acceptable but I could have done without the stale croutons.
I was pleased, however, with my choice of “Terrebonne burger.”
A half-pound of ground chuck was topped with sauteed red onions and mushrooms — which I was pleased to note were freshly sliced mushrooms and onions. There were served on a lightly grilled sourdough bun with slices of American and white-cheddar cheese on either side. Green leaf lettuce and tomato slices were offered as garnish, although there was no spread of mayonnaise or any other condiment.
On another occasion, I stopped with a friend who, like me, was on his way to an afternoon meeting in the north Redmond area.
This time, I ordered fish and chips, and again I was pleased with my order.
Three large chunks of cod were lightly breaded and quickly deep-fried, so that the batter was crispy but the fish was moist inside. It was one of the best fish-and-chips meals I’ve had in recent memory.
The fries were perfectly seasoned and crusted. The accompanying white-cabbage coleslaw found the right balance between dry and soupy, sweet and vinegary.
My friend was likewise happy with his wedge salad, a quarter-head of iceberg lettuce served with tomato, hard-boiled egg, blue-cheese dressing and full slices of smoky bacon.
But my favorite dish at the Pump House is a dinner entree called Maragas asparagus chicken.
The plate is so named because two tender chicken breasts are sauteed with pinot blanc wine from the Maragas Winery, just a few miles north.
My entree was served with lightly steamed asparagus spears on a generous bed of freshly mashed potatoes, and covered with creamy chicken-based gravy.
I would make the trip back to the Pump House from Bend simply for another serving of this excellent chicken dish — and I’d probably combine it with a stop at the Maragas Winery for an extra bottle or two to bring home with me.
The Pump House serves breakfasts on Saturday and Sunday mornings. There are taco specials every Tuesday, and Terrebonne-area locals get price discounts on Thursdays.
Oh, the Redneck Benedict?
This is an appetizer of three charbroiled beef sliders with American cheese, ketchup, mustard and pickles.
I don’t know what makes them “redneck,” nor do I understand the “Benedict” reference. But I do know I like the name.
Takoda’s Restaurant , a mainstay on the McKenzie River Highway at Rainbow, has opened a new location in Sisters. Situated in the Four Winds Shopping Center, the cafe was formerly the Coyote Creek Cafe and, more recently, Soji Station. A moderately priced menu features homemade soups and salads, sandwiches and wraps, as well as pasta dishes and fresh seafood. Takoda’s also has a full bar. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 425 W. U.S. Highway 20, Sisters; 541-549-8620.
The Codfather Fish and Chips operates out of a vintage 1952, red double-decker London bus parked on Lava Street between Colorado and Arizona avenues. Three big pieces of fresh fish — which may include ling cod, rockfish or albacore tuna — are served with fries and tartar sauce for $8. The menu may also include fried oysters or shrimp. Open noon to midnight Friday to Sunday. 507 N.W. Colorado Ave., Bend; 541-228-4931.
Toomie’s Thai Cuisine (B): A pioneer among Thai restaurant in Central Oregon, Toomie’s offers bargain lunches although dinner entrees are overpriced. Service is steady, decor clean and simple, but entree preparation is inconsistent. Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. every day; dinner 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 119 N.W. Minnesota Ave., Bend; 541-388-5590.
Planker Sandwiches (A-): A career restaurateur opened this top-value, gourmet sandwich shop in May in the former location of a downtown Bend creperie. Patrons order tasty, hearty sandwiches, paninis, crepes, soups and breakfast items from a trio of blackboard menus. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. 824 N.W. Wall St., Bend; www.plankersandwiches.com or 541-317-5717.
El Jimador (A-): A partnership between Baltazar Chavez of Baltazar’s and Roberto Anaya of El Caporal has resulted in a fine renovation of a corner restaurant in downtown Bend. Seafood and other dishes are outstanding, even if service slips when the owners are away. Open 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 801 N.W. Wall St., Bend; 541-318-1333.
Riverside Market & Pub (B+): An Old Bend neighborhood hangout, the Riverside offers good, casual, deli-style breakfasts, sandwiches and salads. Open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. 285 N.W. Riverside Blvd., Bend; www.riversidemarketbend.com or 541-389-0646.