'If the Victorian Cafe is my kitchen," said Hideaway Tavern owner John Nolan, “then this is my living room."
It could become mine as well.
Ten years after buying “The Vic" and cementing its reputation as one of Bend's go-to places for eggs Benedict and bloody Marys, Nolan took a side step this fall and opened the Hideaway. Now, this upscale sports bar on Bend's south side is earning recognition for its own distinctive style of comfort, both in cuisine and in ambience.
The decor is indeed reminiscent of a spacious and dimly lit “man cave," with solid wood tables and chairs throughout. Three large, flat-screen televisions are a backdrop to a sunken sitting area with a quartet of four-seat sofas, flanked by a new felt-covered pool table. Foosball and darts are played in a smaller adjacent room.
Three more TVs hang on the walls of the main upper dining area, where live music is presented Wednesday through Friday nights on a small stage. There are an additional two televisions behind the reconstructed bar.
“We're a sports bar, no question," said Nolan. “But one of my (goals) here is to undersell and overdeliver. I want to give the customers more than they expect when they walk in the door."
The gastro-pub menu features all the food you might anticipate being offered in a pub: wings, fries, salads, burgers, pizzas.
But the wings aren't just wings. They're peppery “Buffalo drumsticks," smoked, fried, sauteed and baked, then served with a house-made blue cheese dressing.
The house-cut fries can be presented Canadian-style; there are two versions of north-of-the-border poutine, one of them named for a notorious professional ice-hockey player of the 1970s and '80s. Dave Semenko Poutine is smothered in smoked-duck gravy and topped with cheddar-cheese curd and scallions.
Stuffed jalapeņos are another winner. Oversized peppers are filled with a house-made pork-and-cheddar sausage, wrapped in bacon and grilled. The first one I tried was somewhat mild. The second set my palate on fire.
You can get a chopped salad or a Caesar here, but there's much more creativity in this kitchen than in most veggie galleys. The roasted beet salad, served upon arugula with crumbled goat cheese, is topped with grape tomatoes and roasted pumpkin seeds. A salad dubbed “Brussels Baby!" couples the shaved leaves of Brussels sprouts and baby kale with toasted pine nuts, red onion, Reggiano cheese and a creamy Dijon vinaigrette dressing.
The half-pound house burger blends ground chuck with brisket. While its toppings of thick-cut bacon and Tillamook cheddar cheese might be predictable, a spread of smoked tomato aioli and its presentation on a Texas toast bun from the DiLusso Bakery are not.
On another visit, I tried the pulled pork sando. Pork shoulder, which the Hideaway butchers and prepares in-house, was tossed in an original barbecue sauce and served with a fresh apple slaw. I loved every bite.
And then there are the hand-tossed pizzas, which Nolan said represent 30 percent of all food sales. My favorite is the roasted chicken, which comes with bacon and sun-dried tomatoes on a roasted garlic cream base. It's finished with fresh basil pesto, which brings added zip to the cheesy recipe.
The Hunter, essentially a meat lover's fancy, and the Gatherer, designed for vegetarians, change daily. I tried the Hunter when it featured pork sausage, prosciutto and pepperoni, as well as jalapeņo peppers. And I saw a Gatherer with artichoke hearts and chanterelle mushrooms.
Also on the list of pizzas are a margherita with a spicy, house-made arrabiata sauce, tomatoes and fresh basil, and the house combo, with sausage, pepperoni, roasted peppers, mushrooms, black olives and onions. But my next pizza selection may be the Anytime Pie, which features prosciutto, asparagus, spinach and four cheeses on a garlicky olive-oil base — and is topped with eggs and white truffle oil.
It's not pizza, but the Hideaway's soups deserve a special notation. At least, the soup du jour that I enjoyed — the tavern's version of minestrone — was outstanding. Pork shoulder, carrots, kale and ziti pasta went into the delicious mix.
Chef Asa Kenney is the man responsible for most of these creative concoctions. Kenney spent two years as Tim Garling's sous chef at the Jackalope Grill after coming to Bend from Austin, Texas. And the Hideaway's general manager, Tim Hollenbeck, owned a restaurant in Delaware before moving to Bend five months ago.
Weekend mornings, when East Coast sports telecasts begin early, the Hideaway serves a brunch menu from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. That menu includes five breakfast plates, including a poached-egg breakfast sandwich — but not the eggs Benedict for which Nolan's other restaurant, the Victorian, is locally famous.
“I'd just be competing against myself," Nolan explained, even as he acknowledged that he may add a single Benedict option to the Hideaway's list.
I'm a big fan of the wild steelhead hash. The fish is smoked in-house and served with a mix of roasted potatoes and onions, tomatoes and arugula. Then it's topped with a couple of poached eggs and a ladle of charmoula, a lemon-and-garlic sauce that is a Moroccan equivalent of Hollandaise.
My morning dining companion was equally pleased with a classic breakfast bowl. This also featured roasted potatoes and two poached eggs, tossing them together with pork sausage, bacon and cheddar cheese. It was served with a toasted sourdough English muffin.
It's great to have a living room where you can feel as comfortable in the morning as you can in the afternoon or evening.
Mexican chef Roberto Cardenas, who helped establish Amalia's in downtown Bend before opening Rio Distinctive Mexican Cuisine in Madras, has expanded into Sisters' Five Pine Resort. Open for lunch and dinner, Rio Sisters offers enchiladas, tacos and burritos, as well as ceviche, carne asada, chicken and pork dishes. Cardenas formerly was executive chef at La Rosa in Bend. Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays, noon to 9 p.m. weekends. 1001 Desperado Trail, Sisters; 541-549-6118, www.riosisters.com. Also 221 S.E. Fifth St., Madras; 541-475-0424, www.riomadras.com.
Just in time for chilly winter weather, the Bend Soup Company opened Dec. 12 in a new food trailer in the Old Mill Marketplace. Homemade chili, beer cheese soup, clam chowder and minestrone are just a few of the weekday options, along with a choice of sandwiches. Open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday. 550 S.W. Industrial Way, Bend; 541-200-5058, www.facebook.com/bendsoupcompany.