Rating The Victorian Café

Food: () Creative, gourmet menu highlights eggs Benedict but offers generous portions of many other dishes.

Service: () Invariably friendly and attentive, with no slowdown on morning coffee refills.

Atmosphere: () Historic home on the west side’s Phoenix Roundabout awaits a major renovation.

More Info

Location: 1404 NW Galveston Ave., Bend

Hours: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day

Cuisine: Creative American

Price range: Breakfast $6.99 to $17.99, lunch $10.99 to $17.99

Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa

Kids’ menu: On request

Vegetarian and gluten-free menu: Ask for the Earth Harvest Benedict on kale or the Power Salad with blood-orange vinaigrette.

Alcoholic beverages: Fully licensed

Outdoor seating: Seasonal

Reservations: No

Contact: victoriancafebend.com, 541-382-6411

Bend has changed dramatically since The Victorian Café was established as the Victorian Pantry in 1983. Fewer than 18,000 people lived in the city then, roughly one-fifth of what it is today. Since restaurateur John Nolan bought the west-side establishment in 2002, Bend has increased in size to more than 80,000.

Through the years, The Vic has never lost its allure as one of Bend’s most popular breakfast and brunch venues. It has continued to turn out astonishing meals — notably, multiple variations on the traditional eggs Benedict theme — from a kitchen no bigger than a child’s bedroom.

Now, change is on the horizon. The Vic will soon be building a spacious new kitchen extending west of the iconic house, at the same time making improvements to its outdoor patio dining area and slightly increasing seating in the rear of the restaurant. Larger bathrooms will go in where the kitchen now nestles. Parking will not be affected.

“It will be a huge difference from a workability point of view,” Nolan said, adding that permits already have been filed. “I was hoping to get it done this spring,” he said, “but it will probably be the fall.”

In the meantime, The Vic abides. Its rustic charm, accented by high-backed, dark-wood booths and a long central bar, has made it the feature attraction of the “Phoenix Roundabout” at NW14th Street and Galveston Avenue — a city landmark also home to Parrilla Grill and Sip Wine Bar. Service is invariably friendly and attentive, and a classic-rock soundtrack (Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin) lifts the mood.

What’s more, the Vic has a fully licensed bar whose favorite morning pours are a bloody mary (the 24-ounce Proud Mary comes with shrimp skewers) and a Man-Mosa (like a mimosa in a pint glass, made with private-label sparkling wine).

Breakfast

My dining companion and I were more interested in coffee than alcohol when we arrived for breakfast. We were delighted that fresh-brewed coffee was the first thing to be delivered to our table, and the refills just kept on coming.

Both of our breakfasts were so generous, we wound up taking half of them home for a second meal later in the day. I had a Texas Hold ’Em Benedict, with two poached eggs atop pulled barbecued pork, served with spicy Hatch chiles and grilled onions.

It was doused in a house-made ancho-chili Hollandaise, presented atop an English muffin and garnished with springs of fresh cilantro. Instead of potatoes, I accompanied this hearty breakfast with a small bowl of house-made applesauce, at once sweet, chunky and delicious.

My friend ordered the Sweet Hash of Joy, which was like no breakfast hash she or I had ever seen before. Two kinds of potatoes, sweet and Yukon Gold, were first roasted, then sauteed with large pieces of candied bacon, chopped hazelnuts and curly kale. Two fried eggs sat on top, along with crumbled chevre cheese and sliced fresh avocado. Rather than toast, she accompanied the dish with a freshly baked whole wheat-and-cinnamon scone, dry but tasty.

Midday

Indeed, the star attraction at The Vic is its creative menu. At no time was that better exhibited than at our previous brunch.

It was the weekend of St. Patrick’s Day, and the cafe had a special menu (it always has at least six specials) befitting the occasion. The Paddy Burke Seafood Tortino was a sort of seafood frittata, a three-egg, oven-baked omelet embracing a handful of bay scallops and at least a half-dozen prawns. Bacon, braised leeks and red bell peppers added flavor, roasted red potatoes more substance. The dish was topped with medium-sharp Irish cheddar and a tangy mustard sauce and was served with The Vic’s own applesauce and scone.

My choice was a sandwich called the Havana Melt. One of the best sandwiches I’ve had in Central Oregon, it featured house-smoked pork in barbecue sauce with sauteed onions, green chilies and pepper jack cheese that drooled out between slices of toasted sourdough bread. Instead of fries, I accompanied my meal with a lovely salad of fresh greens topped with chopped red onions, black olives, tomatoes and button mushrooms.

Fans of The Victorian Café who live in Redmond can now get similar fare at the Dawg House II, which Nolan — who also owns the Hideaway Tavern on Bend’s south side — bought last year. He hasn’t yet rebranded the restaurant, and he’s kept the original daily lunch-and-dinner schedule, but he’s making changes.

Among them is a Saturday-Sunday breakfast, which, Nolan said, “I think is the best breakfast menu of all three of my restaurants.” He’s also added a Friday night special: a steak dinner for two, including veggies and potato, for $20. “The food is all from scratch,” he said.

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

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