Rating Immersion Brewing Co.

Food: () Meat dishes, including pork and short ribs, highlight a creative menu.

Service: () Enthusiastic and well-intended but spotty, indicative of staff inexperience.

Atmosphere: () Warehouse-style space has rolling garage doors to let the outside in.

More info

Location: 550 SW Industrial Way, Suite 185, Bend

Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Cuisine: Gourmet gastropub fare

Price range: Lunch and starters $7 to $14, main dinner courses $13 to $28

Credit cards: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

Kids’ menu: On request

Vegetarian and gluten-free menu: Salads, risotto, selection of veggie sides

Alcoholic beverages: Full bar

Outdoor seating: Spacious open-air dining adjoining Atlas Cider Co.

Reservations: No

Contact: imbrewing.com, 541-633-7821

It didn’t take long, after it opened in late May, for Bend’s Immersion Brewing to become known as the place where beer lovers can brew their own.

But what many Central Oregonians probably still don’t know is this: Immersion serves some of the finest “gastropub” fare in the region.

Executive chef Jack H. Tate came to Bend from Tucson, Arizona, where he achieved local acclaim as the kitchen head at Fiorito’s and the Union Public House. Perhaps intent on escaping the Sonoran Desert heat, he arrived in Oregon just as partners Sean Lampe, Amanda Plattner and Rachael Plattner were launching their new business in the historic Box Factory, next to Atlas Cider on Industrial Way.

As with any new business, Immersion still has a few kinks to work out, especially on the service end of things. But some of that can be forgiven, simply because I love this warehouse-style space! Rolling garage doors separate the air-conditioned indoors from outside seating, with the “brew-it-yourself” section behind the central bar and to the left.

Much of the atmosphere is provided by people-watching, and the clientele, in my visits, has indeed been intriguing. In particular, I was fascinated by the guy at an adjacent table who blurted: “Do you want to hear what I tell my friends, or do you want the truth?”

Service glitches

I promise to give you the truth. And these are the facts: The service at Immersion is enthusiastic and well-intended, but on both of my recent visits, it was spotty. On one occasion, my dining companion and I waited for more than 10 minutes, after being promptly seated with glasses of water, to draw the attention of a server. He explained that he had been in another part of the restaurant memorizing the nightly specials.

On a subsequent visit, service was similarly slow, although this time brisk weekend business was partly to blame. It was so busy, in fact, that servers had run out of water bottles for the tables, so I had to flag a busser for refills several times.

The food — especially the meat dishes — was outstanding, perhaps the best I’ve had at a local brewpub.

On one visit, my companion ordered slow-braised beef short ribs, which were unlike any other short-rib dish we’ve had in Bend.

Accompanied by a delicious Southern-style succotash of avocado and edamame (soybeans), the meat fell off the bones onto a light “cake” of refried black beans. Argentine chimichurri sauce, Mexican cotija cheese and tangy pico de gallo finished it.

I held off until our second visit for a porterhouse steak — of Duroc pork rather than beef. Cooked in Immersion’s own red ale, accompanied by a whole-grain mustard jus, the meat was tender and juicy. It was topped with German spätzle made from spent beer grain and served with Brussels sprouts roasted in apple cider. I may be back next week for this.

Pros and cons

A pair of salads were excellent but didn’t quite meet the standard set by the meat.

Immersion’s wedge salad was made not with iceberg lettuce, as is commonly seen, but with a grilled, reduced head of romaine. It had the usual bacon (rendered to cook the fat out) and blue cheese (a dressing of smoked Rogue Creamery cheese), but instead of quartered tomatoes it featured charred onions in a puréed tomato coulis. My companion liked it better than I did.

The fresh greens of the arugula salad were tossed with shaved fennel, honey-roasted pistachios, thinly sliced carrots and dainty Easter egg radishes, along with creamy whipped goat cheese. I enjoyed the vinaigrette of oven-dried tomatoes, but my companion said she might have preferred a raspberry or champagne vinaigrette to balance the peppery flavor of the arugula.

We both agreed that her marinated ahi tuna appetizer would have had an additional dimension had it been served sushi-style, with wasabi mustard and sliced ginger. As it was, it was very tasty, with radish, cucumber, avocado, seaweed and sesame sprinkles, seasoned with a light chili oil and served with tortilla chips.

A vegetarian and gluten-free risotto was filling but nothing out of the ordinary. The rice was cooked with mushrooms, grilled leeks, goat cheese and an heirloom tomato gremolata.

We took home two orders for snacking later and were impressed by the size of the chicken wings: Each of the half-dozen included both a wing and a drumstick, still attached. They were served with blue-cheese dressing and a “Full Monty” buffalo sauce, along with hand-cut potato chips. The wings weren’t well-seasoned, however; I had to salt and pepper them myself.

Meatballs were a big winner. The three plump globes, ground in-house, were delicious. They were served in the sauce of San Marzano plum tomatoes with hand-stretched mozzarella cheese, sprinkled with Romano cheese and served with a small loaf of warm bread.

— John Gottberg Anderson can be reached at janderson@bendbulletin.com.

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