The wide-ranging menu has hits and misses, but many dishes are worthy of a big-city restaurant.
Pleasant and very casual, suiting an establishment frequented by outdoors lovers.
Recommended but not required
If you're a fan of historic restorations, you'll love what's been doone with this old train station.
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|Restaurant facts (updated: Kids’ menu: Full kids’ menu includes healthy options.
Vegetarian menu: Numerous options; also vegan and gluten-free on request.
Next week: La Rosa
Visit www.bendbulletin .com/restaurants for readers’ ratings of more than 150 Central Oregon restaurants.)
$$ of $$$$ What's this?11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday; 11:30 a.m. to close Friday and Saturday. Also open Mondays in summer.
|$ =||under $12|
The knowledge that one has solid footing, or at least a firm toehold, is important to any new venture.
When Kristin and Ian Yurdin first laid their eyes on the old Terrebonne railroad station in the early years of the 21st century, they saw it as more than a vacant building in need of repair.
Avid rock climbers, they spent most of their weekends commuting from their home in Hood River to challenge the cliffs of Smith Rock State Park. “We drove by that building hundreds of times," Kristin said. “And I was looking for a career change."
Kristin was trained as a podiatrist — a foot doctor. As a climber, she knew how important healthy feet are to any athlete. She also understood the importance of nutrition.
And she didn't see its availability in Terrebonne, the Smith Rock gateway community.
“There was really not a place to eat in Terrebonne when we would spend weekends there," she said, “a place where people could go after climbing, sit down and have a beer.
“We had fallen in love with the building. We convinced the owner to let us buy it. We restored it and put in a restaurant to serve Terrebonne, Smith Rock and the whole area."
The restaurant opened in 2006. The upcoming summer season will be its eighth. And Kristin Yurdin, 42, has established herself not only as one of the finest female rock climbers in the Pacific Northwest, but as one of the best chefs in Central Oregon.
Proud husband Ian points out that Kristin recently made the first female ascent of a 5.14-rated route up Smith Rock, “which in the climbing world is quite notable," he said. “Kristin is far too humble to ever bring it up. I think it shows her talent, dedication to hard work and drive, qualities relevant in the restaurant world."
Although Kristin was a passionate cook, she lacked formal training. So while the couple worked on building restoration for a year and a half, Kristin studied at the Cascade Culinary Institute and worked in downtown Bend at both Zydeco and Staccato.
She came away convinced that high-quality ingredients are the most important element in cuisine. “It's what you're using to start with," she said. “So although I consider our style at Terrebonne Depot to be new American, I call it 'ingredient-focused cuisine.'"
In my recent visits, nothing has demonstrated that focus so well as the lettuce wraps, listed as an appetizer on both the lunch and dinner menus. In fact, these are so far ahead of the P.F. Chang's variety, they deserve their own trademark.
The key ingredient in Kristin's version of the wrap is pork belly, thick slices cured in-house, balancing smoky meat with savory fat. Diners fold these into leaves of butter lettuce, add some hoisin sauce, and sprinkle in a quotient of tart minced lime, spicy jalapeno peppers, salty roasted cashews, cool cucumbers and savory cilantro.
They may be the best wraps I've ever had.
When my dining companion and I stopped at the Depot after several hours of hiking at Smith Rock, we also shared two other dishes. Not as show-stopping as the wraps, we still thoroughly enjoyed them.
A trio of fish tacos were made with fresh ahi tuna, seared medium rare, served in warm corn tortillas with avocado and cilantro. Our complaint was that the flavor of the tuna was overpowered by a surfeit of red-cabbage slaw, mixed with mango, and a sweet-and-spicy, sauce of honey, lime and jalapenos. The ingredients were outstanding in themselves; there was just too much of them.
Baked ziti was a classic comfort dish. The pasta tubes were baked with a savory tomato sauce, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, and big chunks of Italian sausage. There was nothing really out of the ordinary with this dish, but it was perfectly prepared.
When we returned for a formal dinner a few nights later, we were greeted by a Burlington Northern freight train rambling past the Depot. Trains pass several times a day, on rails only about 50 feet east of a solid wooden deck where as many as 30 diners may be conversing beneath shady umbrellas.
Inside, the mood is casual but classy, like a high-end tavern. Diners — equal parts Smith Rock visitors, U.S. Highway 97 travelers and area residents — sit at nicely varnished wood tables and chairs beneath hanging lamps. The dining room seats about 65, including about a dozen at a central bar.
As it had been at lunch, service was friendly and attentive, never intrusive.
To begin, we shared a kale salad that might have been a meal in itself. The green leaves were tossed with hazelnuts, coarsely chopped red onions and chunks of Oregonzola cheese from the Rogue Creamery. The salad was finished with an avocado vinaigrette that perfectly balanced the other flavors.
Two house-made soups, accompaniments to our entrees, were excellent. I was partial to the savory chicken-rice potage, made with short-grain rice and big pieces of white meat, along with celery, onions, carrots, green peppers and thyme. But my companion's tomato-basil bisque was also very good.
Her 8-ounce top sirloin was cooked rare, as she likes it, with caramelized onions and Oregonzola on a bed of peppery arugula, with a balsamic drizzle on garlic mashed potatoes.
I had Alaskan halibut cheeks, a seasonal special. Three cheeks were crusted with pistachio nuts and topped with a caprese-like salsa of minced tomatoes and ribboned basil. They were stacked upon five fresh asparagus spears and a bed of faro, a hulled wheat grain, cooked with diced onions. This was an outstanding dish, one that I haven't had elsewhere.
Kristin showed off her baking skills with a Meyer lemon cake, featuring a bottom layer of pudding and a topping of fresh blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. Like everything else here, it was delicious.
There's no doubt that Terrebonne Depot is, indeed, on solid footing.