The Summit Saloon & Stage
Delicious comfort food, including soups, burgers and evening entrees.
Enthusiastic, friendly and efficient, and responsive to special requests.
All-in-one pub, sports bar and music venue share a century-old building.
Location: 125 NW Oregon St., Bend
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday
Cuisine: American comfort food
Price range: Small plates $4 to $10, salads $6 to $13, burgers and sandwiches $10 to $12, entrees $12 to $17
Credit cards: Master Card, Visa
Kids’ menu: On request
Vegetarian and gluten-free menu: Salads, spinach-artichoke dip, Southwest black-bean burger
Alcoholic beverages: Full bar
Outdoor seating: No
Reservations: For large parties only
Contact: summitsaloon.com, 541-749-2440
If you’re looking for a place to enjoy a decent meal on New Year’s Eve, and where you can continue to bop until you drop, you could do worse than the Summit Saloon & Stage.
With salads and burgers, elk mac-and-cheese and teriyaki-glazed steelhead, this longtime favorite delivers on two floors of the historic O’Kane Building on Oregon Street in downtown Bend.
Having merged seven years ago with the Downtowner, which once occupied the Brooks Street breezeway space now held by the Beach Hut Deli, the Summit is many things. It’s a sports bar. It’s a late-night club. But more than anything, it’s a local pub with tasty food and reliable service from its 11 a.m. opening until it shuts its doors.
The big ball drops this year as Saturday night becomes early Sunday morning. By that time, the weekend DJ dance party will be in full frenzy as Summit patrons count down the seconds to 2017.
I won’t be there. I’m a generation, maybe closer to two, past the wee-hours party scene. But I won’t hesitate to visit the Summit for an afternoon or early-evening meal, or even to catch Saturday’s big college football games.
Four flat-screen TVs hang side-by-side behind the 13-seat bar. Two more offer viewing in corners of the dining room, beneath the century-old building’s pressed-tin ceiling and period lighting and fans.
More than 80 diners can be seated at window tables and booths, many of them on a platform raised three steps above the rest. Upstairs, the low-ceilinged lounge and music stage, which hosts regular comedy nights on Thursdays, draws after-dark crowds.
On both of my recent visits, a lunch and an early dinner, I found service to be excellent. Although there was no host to show us a table, each server was enthusiastic, friendly and efficient, quick to take and deliver orders and to respond to special requests. And we were encouraged to return to take advantage of happy-hour prices, offered weekdays from 4 to 7 p.m.
The Summit’s scratch soups, a holdover from the old Downtowner, are among the best reasons to dine here. Before I look at the printed menu, I glance at the soups offered as daily blackboard specials, and I am invariably rewarded.
On one recent visit, my dining companion was enticed by the butternut squash soup, a delicious puree that tasted as if it had been made with coconut milk. At a different meal, I was delighted with a creamy soup of Brussels sprouts leaves with pancetta, mushrooms and celery. Soups like these can only be homemade.
Burgers and entrees
A house salad was simple but farm-fresh, with mixed greens, shredded carrots, thick cucumber slices and grape tomatoes. Craisins, candied walnuts and bleu cheese crumbles topped a similarly priced cranberry walnut salad, which is my first choice.
On separate visits, my companion ordered a “CLT” sandwich and a Southwest black-bean burger. CLT stands for chicken, lettuce and tomato, and included a grilled chicken breast that could have used a little extra seasoning. It was served on grilled sourdough toast with perfectly cooked Tater Tots.
The vegetarian black-bean burger was so soft that it fell apart and squished out of its brioche bun as my friend held it. Despite that, she found the house-made patty delicious, with melted pepper-jack cheese and a spread of spicy chipotle mayonnaise.
My elk burger — a third of a pound of ground game meat — was one of the best burgers I’ve had in Central Oregon. Topped with provolone cheese, it didn’t have as many mushrooms as I might have liked, but it was served with plenty of grilled onions and a garnish of leaf lettuce with two slices of ripe tomato. Skin-on french fries, cut in-house and seasoned with garlic salt, were accompanied with a special pub sauce.
My favorite dish at the Summit however, was the teriyaki-glazed steelhead, served only after 4 p.m. Seared medium rare at my request, it was served with rice, cooked in coconut water, and a selection of vegetables — broccoli, asparagus, carrots and red bell peppers — steamed in soy sauce and sprinkled with white sesame seeds. The teriyaki sauce was better than that offered at some local Asian restaurants.
A bonus at the Summit was the bread, made fresh daily by Annie Carter of Bend’s Bake City Bakery.