Since moving to new digs in 2007, Alpenglow Cafe hasn't missed a step.
OK, prices have gone up about $1 across the board since the cafe vacated its longtime Bond Street premises — where the newly expanded Deschutes Brewery Public House now stands — for the Columbia River Bank Building, on the former site of the historic Pilot Butte Inn, which was demolished in 1973.
But whereas buildings may be temporary, the quality of Alpenglow's fresh, tasty breakfasts and lunches has remained constant.
Service here is reliable if casual. It sometimes takes a little longer than one might like to get a morning coffee cup refilled, but the staff is gracious and attentive, quick to take and deliver orders from the spacious kitchen.
Decor is simple, with large windows facing a patio area on Newport Avenue. Local photographer Bruce Jackson's panoramic photo of the Three Sisters during alpenglow — the pinkish-toned first light of morning — is showcased on the cafe's west wall.
Small regional scenic photos by John Hart hang on the facing wall. But the room, which seats 44, lacks the sense of ski-lodge coziness that its name might suggest. Instead, there are stainless-steel overhead fans and ceiling ducts.
My dining companion and I have enjoyed four separate morning meals at Alpenglow in the past couple of weeks, and while I wouldn't call any of them spectacular, they offered solid, tasty fare with high-quality ingredients.
Our favorite was my friend's smoked salmon omelet, which she requested with egg whites. Smoked in-house, the salmon was neither too salty nor too fishy in flavor, as the fish can sometimes be. Dill and cream cheese were perfect complements. Hollandaise sauce (made with butter and lemon juice) came on the side, again as per her request.
I first opted for Mexican-style huevos rancheros, which my friend liked better than I did. A lightly toasted, plate-sized tortilla — I would have preferred it ungrilled — was topped with black beans and two eggs, fried over easy. It was finished with shredded cheddar, a sliced half avocado, pico de gallo and tangy cilantro pesto sauce.
On our next visit, my friend opted for eggs Benedict. While we didn't consider them “Bend's best," as the menu had promised, they were presented on a house-made English muffin, which immediately won points for the dish. She found it a little doughy but still with good flavor. Poached eggs were presented atop Deschutes bacon, custom-smoked locally in the manner of Canadian back bacon, and topped with hollandaise.
It was the bacon that made the dish, but coarsely chopped, pan-fried “home fries" were a worthy accompaniment. So, too, was a wedge of moist and delicious coffee cake, made with fresh apples and a toasted oat crumble, that might have been a breakfast in itself.
I broke from the pattern of eggs to try Alpenglow's Cascading Grains pancakes, made with a variety of grains — including wheat, rye, barley and rolled oats — plus large chunks of walnuts mixed into the batter. I was presented three large cakes, thicker and heavier than I had expected but not at all yeasty.
Despite a heavy-handed sprinkle of what appeared to be allspice, they were tasty enough, although I could only eat one. It took in moisture like a sponge. I found myself requesting extra butter and syrup — real maple syrup, from Vermont, according to the menu — to get through it.
We began a midday meal with a hearty soup of the day. My companion described the bacon-potato chowder as “like potato salad in a bowl." Peppery and cream based, it was mixed with minced carrots and green onion, and was delicious.
Her chicken sandwich, dubbed the 1040 Bond Street, featured a broiled breast on a house-made wheat bun, spread with pesto mayonnaise and topped with lettuce, tomato and red onion. Discovering that a feta cheese topping was not equally distributed on the chicken, she did a little handiwork by taking off the top half of bun and redistributing the cheese.
I found my Summit burger to be a little overcooked for my taste and its lightly grilled white-bread bun too big.
But a couple of slices of Deschutes bacon, along with sauteed fresh mushrooms and Tillamook cheddar, made it all better. The burger was also topped with avocado, tomato and red onion.
The bun was undressed, but plenty of options — mustards, ketchup and mayonnaise — were offered. And skin-on French fries were some of the best I've had in Bend.
One of the most impressive things about Alpenglow is its “freshness pledge," posted in the cafe by owners Daniel and Kimberly Gregg and reprinted on menus: Nothing is frozen. All breads are made fresh daily. All meat and dairy products come from Central Oregon purveyors. Maple syrup arrives directly from Vermont. No canned products are used. In fact, a $1,000 reward is offered to anyone who can find a can opener in the cafe — “no fair bringing in your own!"
That in itself, coupled with prices that are kept below most other popular casual cafes in Central Oregon, will keep me coming back.
Redmond's One Street Down Cafe is closed through the holidays for a major remodel that will see it expand its kitchen and dining areas. The restaurant has a strong local following for its daily breakfasts and lunches. 124 S.W. Seventh St., Redmond; www.onestreet downcafe.com, 541-647-2341.
Regular patrons can detour two blocks north to Coho Coffee. Breakfasts, including quiche, and lunches, including sandwiches and homemade soups, are priced no higher than $7.25. Open 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday. 623 N.W. Cedar Ave., Redmond; www .cohocoffeecompany.com, 541-526-0368.