Restaurant review: Redmond’s LifeLine Taphouse

Food is important at Redmond’s new LifeLine Taphouse

By John Gottberg Anderson / For The Bulletin

LifeLine Taphouse

Location: 249 N.W. Sixth St., Redmond

Hours: 11 a.m. to close every day

Price range: Lunch specials $5.99 to $7.99; dinner starters $4.99 to $7.99, salads and sandwiches $7.99 to $11.99

Credit cards: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

Kids’ menu: On request

Vegetarian menu: Options include a veggie sandwich and roasted beet and walnut salad

Alcoholic beverages: Full bar

Outdoor seating: Small patio

Reservations: No

Contact: 541-526-1401, www.thelifelinetaphouse.com

Scorecard

Overall: B+

Food: B+. Menu is evolving from typical pub grub to include salads and other dishes.

Service: A-. Young, efficient staff should inform diners of menu changes before food is served.

Atmosphere: B. Spacious sports bar without many frills: TVs, country tunes and an elk head.

Value: B+. Moderate value, with salads and sandwiches priced between $8 and $12.

Next week: Bend Burger Co.

Not every pub has a menu that offers a choice of a half-dozen salads, as well as barley-fed beef and locally baked bread. But Redmond’s new LifeLine Taphouse is not just any bar.

Owner David Griffin, who launched the LifeLine in the Dawson Station complex just over six months ago, offers a full dinner menu along with 34 individual beer taps, featuring many of the best brews available locally and from around the state. “I wouldn’t want it any other way,” he said.

In a handsome, renovated two-story house on the north end of downtown, where Cedar Avenue crosses Northwest Sixth Street, the LifeLine has struck a chord with Redmond residents. They now are less frequently traveling to Bend for the sort of brewpub experiences offered by the Deschutes and Ten Barrel brewery public houses — not coincidentally, Griffin’s business models.

That Griffin enjoys hunting and country music is evident in the atmosphere. An impressive elk head hangs over the bar, beneath a wrap-around second-floor balcony used for overflow seating; country or folk-rock music plays in the background. A half-dozen TVs are tuned to a variety of sporting events.

The service staff is young and energetic. On both of my recent visits, evening and midday, my server was prompt and efficient, consistently going the extra mile to bring samples of beers and sauces, and questioning the kitchen when a sandwich that was supposed to be made with marbled rye bread was delivered on two slices of sourdough.

Great salads

The menu has most of the comfort foods one might expect from a brewpub or taphouse — burgers and other sandwiches, chicken wings, fries, onion rings and more. But for me and my dining companion, it was the salads that really stood out.

The roasted beet and walnut salad was especially outstanding. Diced red and golden beets and coarsely chopped walnuts were tossed with fresh greens, lettuces and arugula, along with thinly sliced apples and Brie cheese, and a handful of croutons. It came with a side cup of house-made, honey-lime Italian dressing.

We thought another house-made dressing, a wasabi-soy vinaigrette with a touch of honey sweetness, was even better. It was served with a mandarin chicken salad that, in addition to shredded chicken and tiny mandarin orange slices, featured cashews and chow mein noodles on a bed of spring lettuces.

We had the wasabi soy again as a drizzle on teriyaki-basted chicken wings. This time, the sweetness was even more apparent. The full pound of wings were satisfactory, presented with a side of several carrot sticks.

Perhaps our favorite flavors were those served in the Taphouse Tacos. Ground beef and grilled chicken were ingredient options, but we chose to fill our trio of tacos with mahi mahi — fish sticks that, despite having been deep fried, were flaky and full of flavor.

The tacos were huge! These were no tiny corn tortillas; indeed, they were substantial flour tortillas, lightly toasted and folded. In addition to the fish, they were stuffed with melted cheddar cheese, cabbage, mango salsa and a delicious chipotle mayonnaise. Three of these can easily be a meal in themselves.

Solid sandwiches

There are more than a dozen sandwich choices at LifeLine, including burgers but not including a couple of daily specials. We sampled three of them.

My favorite was the maple bacon burger. A full one-third pound of locally produced beef was cooked medium and served on a delicious brioche bun — the recipe designed especially for LifeLine by Big Ed’s Artisan Bread of Bend. It was topped with Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce and two slices of thick, maple-glazed bacon, along with lettuce and slices of red onion and tomato.

My dining companion preferred the pastrami sandwich, even though it was served on lightly grilled sourdough rather than the “locally baked marbled rye” promised on the menu. Our server apologetically explained that the restaurant was out of rye.

Even so, the thick slices of lean meat — with pepper-jack cheese, pickles and onions, and a side of honey-mustard sauce — didn’t disappoint my friend. She only opined that it would have been even better on rye.

A pork patty and artichoke sandwich sounded more unusual than it was. The ground pork patty tasted a lot like breakfast sausage; the ’choke was actually a spinach-artichoke spread, much like the pita-bread dip available here as an appetizer. It was served on a brioche bun with Swiss cheese, lettuce and tomato. We both considered it bland until our server suggested a side of chipotle mayo. That added much-needed zing.

Beer-battered “sidewinder” fries, more like thick, fried potato chips than French fries, accompanied two of the sandwiches. On one of them, I requested cole slaw in their place. The cabbage was very finely chopped, a little dry, but all in all, not bad.

Music lineup

The LifeLine Taphouse has live music every Thursday night — Allan Byer, Kelly Riley and Leif James, in recent weeks — and, frequently, other special events.

On Sunday, for Father’s Day, four different bands will join several local breweries at an all-day-long, indoor-outdoor music-and-beer event. And on Wednesday, Deschutes Brewery will pair its beers with a five-course dinner at LifeLine. Tickets are $40.

Griffin said he “got tired of digging posts and pouring concrete” during seven years in the construction business. Anticipating growth in Redmond in the food-and-beverage industry, he set out to open a growler fill station. The concept rapidly evolved into a full-scale restaurant on the north side of downtown.

“It worked out real well,” he said.

— Reporter: janderson@bendbulletin.com

Next week: Bend Burger Co.

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