I would never have guessed it before dining there, but some of the best fish and chips in Central Oregon — and some of the tastiest sandwiches — may be found at an off-the-beaten-track sports bar at the north end of Redmond.
The Clock Tower Pub opened in the early spring of 2010 in the Seventh Street Plaza and has quickly become a “go-to" spot for locals.
One full room of owner Dan Pearson's pub is devoted to games, with three pool tables and a shuffleboard setup. The other is lined with booths and barstools where a couple of dozen patrons may dine surrounded by televisions tuned to sports channels.
Banners supporting the Seattle Seahawks, the Oregon State University Beavers and other teams adorn the walls. A busy bartender scurries between tables and the back bar, taking and delivering orders at a rapid pace.
My first meal at the Clock Tower was a sign of things to come. The Philly was not perhaps a Philadelphia cheesesteak sandwich in the most traditional sense, but it blended the key ingredients on an excellent hoagie roll. Finely chopped beef steak was sauteed with onions and red and green bell peppers, scooped onto the soft bread and smothered in Swiss cheese.
A pulled-pork sandwich at a subsequent visit was equally delicious. The meat was blended with a rich barbecue sauce and served upon a bed of coleslaw within a sesame-seed bun. House-cut fries, which accompanied the sandwich, were also very good.
And the halibut fish and chips were a revelation. Dressed in a tempura-style beer batter, the two filets (there's an option for three) had a dry and crispy outside, and light and flaky interior. There was no grease in the serving, and the house-made tartar sauce provided additional flavor.
A Redmond friend, who has become a Clock Tower regular, raves about the fried clams. I have yet to sample them. She insists both the hot dogs and chips are outstanding, as well.
Not everything at the Clock Tower was wonderful, however. In contrast to the sandwiches and fish, the pub's salads need a lot of work.
An old-fashioned Cobb salad was, to be blunt, boring. In part, I'm sure, that was because it was made with just iceberg lettuce, which adds crunch but is relatively tasteless in itself. Better the chef had mixed the iceberg with other lettuces, such as the romaine employed in Caesar salads.
Finely chopped hard-boiled egg and bacon, crumbled blue cheese and sliced avocado filled out the Cobb salad. There was also a handful of unseasoned and highly forgettable croutons. On the positive side, the salad was offered with a choice of eight home-made dressings. I selected the honey mustard and was duly pleased.
That quintet doesn't include coleslaw, which was similarly uninspired. Totally lacking in the sweet-and-sour, sugar-and-vinegar balance of good slaw, it was moist but flavorless.
How to get there
The Clock Tower pours a nice selection of beers but a very limited choice of low-end wines. But being situated closer to Central Oregon “wine country" than most of the region's establishments, it would be nice to see offerings from Terrebonne's Faith, Hope & Charity Vineyards, as well as Culver's Maragas Winery.
Still, I'm happy to give the pub my stamp of approval for anyone craving a good sandwich, a burger or a beer.
Once you find the Clock Tower — which, indeed, has a small tower rising above its roof — you won't forget the route. But the first time may be a little confusing. Turn west off Business Highway 97 at Northwest Quince Avenue, opposite the entrance to Home Depot. Take an almost immediate right on Seventh Street, which winds through a couple of blocks of undeveloped real estate to the tiny plaza, which also includes a liquor store and fitness gym.
Christie's Kitchen has opened in downtown Redmond in the Dawson Station building that has seen many occupants over the years, including the Mustard Seed, Cafe Alfresco and Crave. The new restaurant serves breakfasts and lunches, with nearly everything priced under $10; the only exception is halibut fish and chips ($13.95). 614 N.W. Cedar Ave., Redmond; 541-923-8878.
Kim and Karla's Spuds & Suds is offering stuffed baked-potato meals and other self-designed tater dishes in downtown Redmond, with prices beginning at $5, in the former location of O'Gannon's. Open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday. 514 N.W. Greenwood Ave., Redmond; 541-504-4556, www.facebook.com.