The Range at Brasada Ranch

Food: () Meat, seafood and pasta menu lacks a truly creative edge

Service: () Professional staff takes orders accurately and delivers them quickly

Atmosphere: () Modern rustic lodge highlights sunset views of the Cascade Range

More Info

Location: 16986 SW Brasada Ranch Road, Powell Butte

Hours: The Range, 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday; Ranch House, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day

Cuisine: Pacific Northwest

Price range: Appetizers $9 to $19, entrees $22 to $39; Ranch House breakfast $12 to $15, lunch $12 to $19, dinner $14 to $38

Credit cards: American Express, Discover, Master Card, Visa

Kids’ menu: On request at the Ranch House

Vegetarian and gluten-free menu: One choice is fazzoletti, a pasta with mushrooms, nettles and leeks

Alcoholic beverages: Fully licensed

Outdoor seating: Extensive deck

Reservations: Recommended

Contact: brasada.com, 541-526-6862

Brasada Ranch is a marvelous resort, offering golf, horseback riding and other High Desert sports on the lower, west-facing slopes of Powell Buttes.

A destination getaway that is still close enough to Bend (a mere 20 miles) to lure Central Oregonians as well as out-of-towners, Brasada has two restaurants designed to serve visitors. The Ranch House is just that, a casual indoor-and-outdoor dining space in the main lodge building that serves three meals a day, 12 months a year.

But Brasada’s showcase is The Range Restaurant and Bar, in its own modern rustic building a short distance to the south. The high-ceilinged building is every bit as beautiful as it was when it opened in 2010. Sunset views toward the Three Sisters and other Cascade volcanoes set a romantic mood that can be extended to a broad flagstone patio, where guests may enjoy coffee and s’mores around a large fire pit.

Service is genuine and as professional as one might expect in an off-the-beaten-path location. On a recent dinner visit with my dining companion, we were greeted warmly and seated promptly by a young Frenchman. Our server was equally efficient, taking our orders accurately, delivering them quickly, and on our request turning down the volume on a country-and-western music loop even as he gently admonished us: “Well, you ARE on a ranch!”

Evening dining

The downside of our dinner at The Range was that the food wasn’t as outstanding as we had remembered. The resort hasn’t kept a chef for more than a couple of years since the well-traveled Adrian Carpenter left in 2013. The menu offered by executive chef Doug MacFarland, a sous chef at Portland’s late, renowned Wildwood Restaurant before he was Brasada’s second-in-command the past two years, has neither the flair nor the flavor of his predecessor’s.

Even an opening charcuterie-and-cheese board was disappointing. Excepting pork rillettes — salted, cooked in their own fat, then shredded, cooled and served with small toasts — the selection of meats, including sopresata and cappicola, didn’t burst with flavor. We liked our rillettes with Oregon’s own Ancient Heritage “Hannah” cheese, a blend of raw cow and sheep’s milk.

A salad of mixed greens, including shaved fennel and carrot, along with bits of grapefruit and pistachios, was dressed too lightly with a subtle vinaigrette.

My “half plancha” chicken was perfectly cooked in brown butter, with a crispy skin that locked in plenty of moisture. I didn’t care for the rest of the preparation — though, to be fair, my companion loved it. A mix of Tuscan panzanella, a hard bread salad, with snap peas and English peas (on the vine) didn’t work for me. Potatoes or rice, or even orzo, would have been more satisfying.

My dining partner’s king salmon was nicely poached but the portion was small, about four ounces. Drizzled with skordalia, a Greek purée of potatoes, olive oil and garlic, it was served with golden beets and lightly sprinkled with dill and horseradish. My friend said she could barely taste the horsey, but she did enjoy the recipe.

Ranch House lunch

I preferred a solo lunch at the Ranch House on a subsequent date. Service was not as memorable — I noted that many vacated tables were left unbussed until they were needed for arriving diners — but the more casual food was excellent.

I started with a bowl of yellow chayote squash soup. Blended with herbs and drizzled with pesto, it had just enough of a bite to make it interesting. A salad of green and red leaf lettuce with shaved fennel, carrot and radish was finished with balsamic vinaigrette.

The pork belly sandwich was a delight. Served between two slices of toasted artisan bread, the meat was tender and tasty, and a layer of fig compote was a perfect complement. Accompanying coleslaw was delicious.

Still, I can’t help but compare these dishes to those I enjoyed at The Range in its previous incarnation: Ethiopian buckwheat pancakes stuffed with morel mushrooms and fava beans, gnudi dumplings filled with young goat braised in red wine, lamb shoulder on polenta with ratatouille. And there was a “game bird trio” of minced pheasant consommé, quail stuffed with quinoa and dates, and duck breast with rhubarb chutney.

Despite its marvelous sunset view across the central Cascades, today’s Range Restaurant and Bar offers nothing to entice me to make the 20-mile drive from Bend.

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

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