In these days of rapid growth in Central Oregon's craft-brewing industry, the Cascade Lakes Brewing Company has taken on the appearance of a senior citizen.
In fact, it was as recently as 1994 that the company was established in Redmond as the first craft brewer in that city.
Although Cascade Lakes' impressive Lodge, built 10 years later on Bend's west side, gave the company a major presence in the regional center, it remains rooted in Redmond — as suggested by the two popular brewpubs it maintains there.
Both the 7th Street Brew House, a Redmond fixture since 1996, and the Red Dog Depot, which opened in 2007, have several taps dedicated to such Cascade Lakes beers as Monkey Face Porter and Blonde Bombshell Pale Ale.
But they also present beers from other Central Oregon breweries — including Deschutes, 10 Barrel, Silver Moon, Boneyard and Phat Matt's on a recent visit — as well as a limited selection of Oregon and Washington wines. And both pubs serve wide-ranging menus of quality food to appeal to patrons of all ages.
7th Street Brew House
Unwittingly, I made my visit to the 7th Street Brew House on Taco Wednesday, and the place was packed. With garage doors rolled open to let the outside in, the pub must have accommodated at least 120 drinkers and diners beneath its roof and on a spacious patio.
Beer and sports memorabilia, including Oregon Ducks and Oregon State Beavers banners, adorn the interior walls. Outside, a horseshoe pit extends beside the patio, at the heart of which is built a fire pit for warmth on cold evenings.
Naturally, I ordered tacos, which on this one night of the week are priced at three for $3.50. The only restriction is that the trio must all have the same fillings; there's no mix-and-match, as is available on the everyday entree menu. I considered pan-seared cod and dry-rub pork before settling upon blackened chicken.
A generous amount of bird was wrapped into soft flour tortillas with chopped iceberg lettuce, minced tomato and shredded cheddar cheese. It was served with pico de gallo and sour cream, as well as guacamole sauce that didn't meet the standard of the other ingredients.
I also had fish and chips, made with Alaskan cod battered in India Pale Ale. The beer batter locked moistness into the flaky fish, which had a nice flavor even though the filets were pre-frozen. The accompanying “chips," or French fries, however, were very ordinary.
Coleslaw was peppery but lacked distinction, especially as it was soupier than I like.
Red Dog Depot
Across town — just off the road to the Redmond Airport — is the Red Dog Depot.
It has a comfortable home in the original grey-stone Oregon Trunk and Deschutes Railroad station, which was relocated here from downtown Redmond in September 2005. Cascade Lakes took over in 2007 when a previous restaurant went out of business.
More than 350 framed photographs of patrons' dogs line the walls inside the brewpub, between a high-peaked ceiling and dark-wood paneling.
Although there is an all-ages pool table in the middle of the room and five televisions mounted in its corners, the vibe is not as clearly “sports pub" as at 7th Street. Classic rock provides a musical backdrop.
The restaurant seats about 60 inside, including 10 at the bar, and five tables accommodate another 20 guests outside beneath a porte-cochere.
As at the 7th Street, I had two separate dishes here: clam chowder and Cobb salad.
It's well that I am not a pescatarian, as the Manhattan-style clam chowder — surprise! — had as many bits of roasted beef as it did small clams. They served to make this stew a heartier dish, but I don't know that they added anything to the flavor. It would have been helpful for the menu or server to let the diner know about the added meat.
Mildly spicy, the soup also had big chunks of carrots plus celery, onions, tomatoes and potatoes. It was sprinkled with parsley and served with a couple of packets of saltine crackers.
I was more pleased with the Canine Cobb Salad, which despite the name, gratefully, contained no dog. Chunks of turkey breast meat, crispy bacon, bleu cheese crumbles and slices of hard-boiled egg and Roma tomatoes were served on a bed of fresh young greens. My choice of honey-mustard dressing was presented in a cup on the side.
Service was friendly and reliable, both at the Red Dog and the Brew House, despite the near-overflow crowd at the latter. Given the circumstances, the wait for food was a little longer at 7th Street, but that was certainly not painful, given the ready availability of good Central Oregon beer.
Common Table closed Aug. 8 after less than two years in business. The restaurant in the Penney Galleria building, at 150 N.W. Oregon Ave. in Bend, was well known for its “pay-as-you're-able" gourmet meals. According to executive director Bob Pearson, “In addition to the day-to-day challenges of running a very unique restaurant, we've been informed that additional building renovations would completely shut us down for the next four months. This makes normally challenges grow to be untenable."