Food: () Outstanding elk and steelhead entrees balance less-pleasing small plates.
Service: () Veteran servers anchor a younger staff learning the ropes of fine dining.
Atmosphere: () Large picture windows add ambiance to this intimate restaurant.
Location: 61240 Skyline Ranch Road (at Tetherow), Bend
Hours: 5 p.m. to close, Wednesday to Sunday
Cuisine: Pacific Northwest
Price range: Small plates and salads $7 to $16, entrees $19 to $39
Credit cards: American Express, Discover, Master Card, Visa
Kids’ menu: A children’s menu is offered in The Row, the resort’s adjacent pub
Vegetarian and gluten-free menu: Entree choices include a risotto-stuffed poblano pepper
Alcoholic beverages: Full bar
Outdoor seating: Patio seating between Solomon’s and The Row pub
Contact: tetherow.com, 541-388-2582, 877-298-2582
For more area restaurant reviews, visit www.bendbulletin.com/restaurants.
When Tetherow decided last spring to make changes to the food-and-beverage side of its resort business, it returned the kitchen to one of its former chefs, Rian Mulligan.
During the course of 10 years, Mulligan, 34, has established an impressive résumé at several Bend restaurants — including the former Tetherow Grill, where he spent three years earlier in this decade. He is back home as executive chef at Solomon’s, which opened in early May.
The fine-dining restaurant, open Wednesday through Sunday evenings, was named to honor pioneer Solomon Tetherow, who led a 19th-century wagon party through Central Oregon. It has a menu and a level of service that emphasize how different its style is from The Row, Tetherow’s more casual, adjacent pub.
With just 36 seats, there is an intimacy here that lends itself to special-occasion dining. Floor-to-ceiling windows look north across the resort’s renowned, Scottish-influenced golf course, designed by Tetherow resident David McLay Kidd.
Service, while not quite top end, is approaching that level. A couple of veteran servers, their faces well-known to longtime area residents, are able to provide instruction to younger area residents who are quickly learning the nuances of the fine-dining experience. My companion and I noted some thoughtful hesitations but encountered no miscues in our table service.
The real reason to visit is the food. A seasonal menu of entrees priced mostly between $26 and $39 features everything from steaks, seafood and poultry to game dishes such as elk and pheasant. And for the lighter appetite, there’s a gourmet burger and a savory vegetarian selection.
Currently, that latter choice is a risotto-stuffed poblano pepper. Arborio rice and manchego cheese provide the filling for the pepper, which is roasted with oyster mushrooms and caramelized fennel. It is finished with romesco, a Spanish-style sauce made with red peppers and roasted nuts.
As a student of the culinary arts, Mulligan borrows from many different traditions — French and Italian, Southwestern and even Asian — in developing his menu. But it took us until the main courses to appreciate what he’s doing. We were not wowed by the two vegetarian small plates that we chose to start our meal.
Fried squash noodles ($10) were not what we expected. That the noodles were called “crispy” should have tipped us off.
The strips of zucchini and yellow squash were battered and deep-fried. This was a turnoff, even though it was presented with soft chunks of chevre and served atop romesco.
The roasted cauliflower ($8) was better, although I wasn’t a fan of nearly full heads being served still in husks.
My companion liked it better than I did. The vegetable was drizzled with olive oil and served with lemon aioli.
We could not have chosen our two entrees better. The elk rack ($38) and the steelhead Vera Cruz ($27) were superb, at least the equal of any other restaurant in Central Oregon.
The elk came in the form of two tender loin chops, crusted in garlic and served medium rare. They were presented on a bed of braised collard greens with foraged oyster mushrooms.
My companion opined that the meat would have benefited from some sort of fruit, perhaps blackberries, to offset its gaminess. But I felt Mulligan’s cream-based brandy-peppercorn sauce accomplished just that, especially as it was complemented with a sweet vanilla-bean gastrique.
The steelhead was perfectly cooked to medium doneness, warm throughout but short of flaky. It was presented in a light broth with lime and cilantro the dominant flavors, although dill and red onion were also a part of the brew.
The fish was served with heirloom fingerling potatoes and a savory jam of tomato and mustard seeds.
I’m uncertain as to why the style of the fish’s preparation was dubbed “Vera Cruz.” It was very different from the traditional seafood styles of Mexico’s port city of Veracruz. Best known in a red snapper recipe (“Huachinango Veracruzana”), that sauce features capers, green olives and chilies, sauteed with garlic in olive oil.
Solomon’s offered a limited choice of desserts, but we enjoyed sharing the creme brulee ($9). Flavors of Tahitian vanilla bean were accented by an Oregon wild berry sauce and pepitas, or pumpkin seeds.
— John Gottberg Anderson can be reached at email@example.com .