Food: () Great steaks and superb sides, with only one dish that didn’t please
Service: () Experienced staff is on top of its game from start to finish
Atmosphere: () Elegant and intimate, with clean lines and an open kitchen
Location: 163 NW Minnesota Ave., Bend.
Hours: 5 to 11 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Cuisine: American, primarily steaks
Price range: Appetizers $12 to $26, entrees $28 to $96
Credit cards: American Express, Discover, Master Card, Visa
Kids’ menu: No
Vegetarian and gluten-free menu: Salads and vegetable side dishes
Alcoholic beverages: Full bar
Outdoor seating: Two summer-only tables
Contact: bostaurussteak.com, 541-241-2735
Bend has never seen a restaurant like Bos Taurus.
The fashionable steakhouse in the heart of downtown opened on April 21 as the astrological calendar flipped over to the sign of the practical and ambitious bull — Taurus — and since has been pleasing discerning palates, even as some of its prices have raised eyebrows.
Bos Taurus is the Latin name for bovine cattle, encompassing all common domestic breeds. It’s a fitting moniker, as the menu is all about the beef.
Executive chef George Morris serves Cedar River Angus steaks from Arizona, 7X Ranch Wagyu steaks from Colorado, Allen Brothers steaks from Chicago, Bavette cuts from Australia. There are also A5 Wagyu strip loins direct from Hokkaido and Miyazaki, Japan, so rich that two ounces (at $26 to $29 an ounce) may be all a diner needs.
Established by 10 Barrel Brewing principals Chris and Jeremy Cox and Garrett Wales, along with partners Mike Moor, James Meskill and Kyle McKee, Bos Taurus was more than a year in the making.
The restaurant is on Minnesota Avenue just east of Wall Street, in a space that had been home to the Barrio, Gatsby’s and Marz eateries.
The room has been reinvented, with clean lines, an elegant and modern industrial feel and a five-table loft area. A small bar on the left-hand side of the room looks across a handful of tables and booths, seating 44 diners, at a wall-size silkscreen of a bull pawing the Earth. The open kitchen invites observation at the rear of the restaurant.
Few if any Central Oregon restaurants offer the level of service found at Bos Taurus. A highly experienced staff is on top of the game from start to finish, right down to offering a choice of three different steak knives from France and Japan. The razor-sharp Asian selection, in fact, may have been crafted by a samurai swordsman: These knives feature the Bos Taurus signature etched on their blades.
“The partners traveled to steak houses all over the country, looking for just the kind of experience they wanted to bring to Bend,” said general manager Jim Kiefer, a veteran of 30 years in the restaurant industry, half of them in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. “They wanted something that was both high-level and fun.”
They have succeeded.
A week ago, my dining companion and I shared a meal of oysters, salad, steak and seafood, and came away thoroughly impressed.
The meal began with a basket of two light-as-air popovers, puff pastries presented with a ramekin of bay leaf-and-honey butter with a sprinkle of Hawaiian sea salt.
Then came a quartet of Netarts Bay oysters from the Oregon coast, plump and only a little briny.
Morris served them with an original mignonette that featured sweet chilies, red onions and Chinese parsley.
We couldn’t resist the 5A Miyazaki Wagyu, pan-seared in a Bordelaise sauce. It was, in a word, amazing, and awakened our taste buds to the rest of the meal.
A wedge salad on a splayed head of crispy iceberg lettuce featured a generous serving of house-smoked blue cheese dressing. It came with “unsmoked” pork belly, as well as wilted heirloom cherry tomatoes, shaved scallions and freshly ground pepper.
We were glad to have plenty of starters. We had been alerted that our steak would take 30 to 35 minutes to prepare. In fact, nearly an hour passed before a 16-ounce Angus rib-eye, from Arizona’s Cedar River Farms, appeared at our table.
Yet, it was worth the wait. We wondered why we needed the exotic steak knives, because the meat cut like butter. Perfectly cooked medium rare, to our specification, it was served (per our request) with portions of creamy horseradish and tangy Argentine chimichurri sauce. This was a melt-in-our-mouth steak, with little mastication required.
As an accompaniment, we chose Brussels sprouts, cooked with crispy pork lardons and a house-made maple sauce. Fermented chilies, chestnuts and roasted almonds added creative flair to the crispy leaves.
A little seafood
If there was a letdown, it was an order of squid-ink garganelli (tubular pasta similar to penne) with fresh Maine lobster.
Neither of us had a taste for this dish, which included bone marrow and Japanese yuzu (citrus) sauce.
Not wanting to see us disappointed, our server replaced the lobster dish with pan-seared halibut, line-caught off the Washington coast. A relish of roasted corn and heirloom tomatoes, boosted by a unique buttered-popcorn purée, made this a fine choice.
“We want to be known for bringing the best possible product to Bend,” Morris said. “These ingredients cost a lot of money, but what we charge, versus what we pay, is very generous to the guest.”
In fact, six of the 11 steaks served at Bos Taurus are priced under $45, including a five-ounce petit filet mignon for $28.
Morris, 33, is a graduate of New York’s Culinary Institute of America who came to Bend from the multi-restaurant Madeline Hotel and Residences in Telluride, Colorado.
An outdoors lover, he has also worked in Phoenix, San Diego and his native Chicago, but he considers Bend home: “I know that I’m done moving,” he said.
— John Gottberg Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .