Seven is considered by many to be a lucky number. But the Seven Restaurant & Nightclub in downtown Bend also depends upon the luck of the Irish to entice diners as well as dancers.
With half of its menu devoted to “Irish classics” — dishes such as corned beef and cabbage, bangers and mash, and boxty — the onetime Grove Cantina and Village Grill seems to be celebrating St. Patrick's Day year-round, even though its third anniversary will fall on Halloween.
As I am not active in the local nightclub scene, I can only consider Seven from the restaurant side of the ledger. Sorry to say, from a dining-out perspective, it is not a place that I would choose to frequent.
The establishment doesn't open until 6 p.m., and I'm guessing it doesn't begin to fill up until well after dark. On neither of my early-evening visits was there anyone present to greet me at the door and guide me to the dining area; I saw only a cavernous room with a couple of pool tables.
Around the corner, a friendly bartender held forth in a dark room with a few high tables and flat-screen TVs, backed by a stage and large dance floor. Fortunately, both drink pourers — a woman on my first visit, a man on my second — were imbued with personality, providing a little light to an otherwise boring space.
The bartenders took my meal orders, which were delivered from the kitchen with reasonable speed, as should be expected in an all-but-vacant restaurant.
Irish pub fare
My first order was a traditional dish of the British Isles, a shepherd's pie. The meal deserved praise for the tender chunks of sirloin steak that went into its preparation — a far cry from the fatty ground beef more frequently cooked into the dish.
But the rest of the “pie,” served in a bowl, was not of the same quality. The beef was stewed in a poorly seasoned, flavorless brown gravy with peas, carrots and potatoes, then topped with a thick layer of creamy mashed potatoes.
I sense that the only difference between the Irish stew, also on the menu, and the shepherd's pie is that layer of garlic mash.
My server suggested I try a hard-boiled egg, Irish-style. Like a Blarney Stone version of a deviled egg, it came deep-fried in a sausage skin, presented with a stone-ground mustard sauce. It was tasty but not something I need to have again.
Several other items on the Irish menu piqued my interest, including bangers and kraut (that's sausages and cabbage) and boxty (a potato pancake with a kitchen-sink filling that varies from day to day). I might someday be drawn back by the corned beef, braised for more than 12 hours (according to the menu), served with cabbage; or the fish and chips, with red snapper that has been battered with Guinness stout.
The second half of Seven's menu is dubbed “Yankee Faves.” These include a cheeseburger and a veggie burger, fish and chicken sandwiches, chicken strips and a chicken Caesar salad.
I ordered a house salad and a pulled-pork sandwich.
The salad was good. It was made with mixed greens as well as sliced red onions, grape tomatoes, croutons, shredded cheese and (per my request) honey-mustard dressing.
I found the sandwich to be disappointing. The meat itself, purchased from the Redmond Smokehouse, was excellent, generously blended with a sweet honey-bourbon barbecue sauce. But it was served on a dry, undressed hamburger bun that added nothing to the flavor of the meal. Even something as simple as tomato and onion would have been a welcome addition.
Fortunately, most of Seven's patrons come not for the food, but for the entertainment. Owner-operators Megan Kleck and Brian Timme — whose wife, Karen, is a regular weekend performer as Ultra DJ Girl — offer a full weekly schedule of events.
These include pool tournaments, salsa and swing dancing lessons on Wednesdays and Thursday, and various karaoke and comedy nights. And its owners have nothing but good things to say about the technical side of their business, which they call “one of the best sound and lighting systems around.”
The Platypus Pub, which opened Sept. 12 in the former location of Ernesto's Ristorante on Third Street in Bend, is serving a limited startup menu of soups, salads, burgers and other sandwiches. Owner Tom Gilles of The Brew Shop said everything is made from scratch, with prices under $10. Gilles said the menu will be expanded at a later time. Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, 1203 N.E. Third St., Bend; 541-323-3282.
The Solstice Brewing Co. restaurant is up and running in downtown Prineville. The menu features local meats and cheeses, gourmet sandwiches and nightly specials such as pork chops with a mango-guava glaze. A wide range of Oregon craft brews are always on tap to complement a full bar. Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday. 234 N. Main St., Prineville; www.solstice brewing.com or 541-233-0883.
Pisano's Pizza (B+): Gourmet New York-style pizza, along with outstanding sandwiches and salads, make Pisano's the “go-to” place for Italian pies in northwest Bend. Service, however, can be less than reliable when business is brisk. Open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, noon to 7 p.m. Sunday. 2755 N.W. Crossing Drive, Bend; www.pisanos bend.com or 541-312-9349.
Maverick's Country Bar & Grill (A-): Made over as a classic country-western establishment with frequent shows by top musicians, Maverick's serves excellent burgers for modest prices seven days a week. Service, especially from bartenders who also wait tables, is prompt and friendly. Open 11 a.m. to close every day. 20565 Brinson Blvd. (at Boyd Acres Road), Bend; www.facebook.com or 541-382-4270.
Slick's Que Co. (B+): Dry-rub meats, slow-cooked in a pit barbecue, are the specialty at this casual Texas-style cafe. The new Bend outlet features a classy Western ambience matching that of its year-older cousin in Sisters. Open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday in Bend, every day in Sisters. 212 N.E. Revere Ave. Bend (541-627-2114); 240 E. Cascade Ave., Sisters (541-719-0580); www.slicksqueco.com.
Pump House Bar & Grill (B): A country-style establishment with food and service a step above a typical roadhouse, the Pump House is a convenient meal stop between Redmond and Madras. Maragas asparagus chicken is a fine option from the homey menu. Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday, 8 a.m. to midnight Saturday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. 8320 N. U.S. Highway 97, Terrebonne; 541-548-4990.