Chops Bistro

Food:() Excellent meats, but preparation is inconsistent and the menu is limited.

Service:() Friendly and accurate in order taking, slow and even confused in delivery.

Atmosphere:() Rustically elegant, with a brick fireplace and a wraparound porch.

More info

Location: 370 E. Cascade Ave., Sisters

Hours: Lunch 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday to Sunday, dinner 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 5 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Lounge open at 4:30 p.m.

Cuisine: Pacific Northwest

Price range: Dinner appetizers and salads $8 to $12, entrees $24 to $38; lounge and lunch menu $5 to $13.

Credit cards: American Express, Master Card, Visa

Kids’ menu: On request

Vegetarian and gluten-free menu: Maitake mushroom pasta isn’t gluten-free; salads are

Alcoholic beverages: Full bar

Outdoor seating: Large wraparound deck

Reservations: Recommended

Contact: chopsbistro.com, 541-549-6015

For more area restaurant reviews, visit www.bend bulletin.com/restaurants

When the Latigo Restaurant in Sisters closed late last year, after a 2½-year run, I was disappointed. Tim Christman was (and I’m sure still is) a marvelous chef who balanced subtlety and creativity in the dishes he prepared. There were issues with service, to be sure, but the food was great.

A pair of former employees bought the restaurant on U.S. Highway 20 in January and reopened in early May. Chef Grant Dixson and partner Tracy Syanovitz christened the establishment Chops Bistro and installed a menu that emphasizes home-cooked, bone-in meats like Kurobuta pork, steaks and lamb.

The Chops website promises to bring “contemporary American food to a new level.” Based on my two recent visits, the bistro has yet to do so. Food preparation has been inconsistent, and service remains substandard.

That’s not to say there aren’t positive attributes. Among them is the addition of a large cocktail lounge with live weekend entertainment and a full menu of burgers and lighter meals that aren’t offered in the main dining room.

That space, a former art gallery, is elegant and romantic, with as many tables on a covered, wraparound porch as beside the large brick fireplace inside. A peaked ceiling rises above a hardwood floor, supported by beams that may have once been railroad ties.

Limited menu

The menu, though, has limited range. There are but three appetizers, a single soup du jour and a pair of salads — a Caesar and a spinach salad. The seven entrees do include one seafood choice (a macadamia-crusted ahi tuna) and one vegetarian (black-pepper pasta with mushrooms, squash and sunflower pesto).

I might have started a meal with soup, but each time I’ve visited Chops, there has been only a single cold soup — once a gazpacho, once a peach concoction. There was no warm option.

But there was no shortage of peaches on the menu, whether in the soup, in a smoked peach vinaigrette for the spinach salad, or in a peach-mint chutney with baked Brie ($9).

My dining companion suggested we try the latter, fresh from the oven and served with toasted crostini. It wasn’t very good, and the chutney was more of a relish that added nothing. We had our server take it from our table.

We did enjoy our entrees — at least, most of them. My companion opted for a rack of lamb ($38), produced at Brownsville’s Anderson Ranches. Three thick ribs were cooked medium rare and served with a unique sauce of cherries and star anise; she found the meat tender and delicious. She also liked the flavor of the accompanying asparagus spears and glazed turnips, although they were barely lukewarm in temperature.

My crispy-skinned duck breast ($30) had a similar problem. As much as I enjoyed the fatty bird itself — cooked confit-style with a drizzle of blackberry coulis — I was put off by its presentation on cold couscous, blended with herbs and chopped vegetables. Certainly, more attention to detail would have improved our meals.

A little confused

Our server was pleasant and accurate in taking orders, but a little slow in delivery. This may have been the fault of the kitchen, but my request for coffee at the end of the meal left me shaking my head.

No apology was offered for the length of time it took to get my cup, which perhaps had just been brewed. But I wasn’t offered cream, which I had to request twice (once from another server) before a small cream pitcher was finally delivered. And it was too cold and heavy to pour: I even turned it upside down to demonstrate.

I dropped by the lounge a week later to see if that had been a freak experience. And while the bartender wrestled with a faulty credit-card machine, I waited 15 minutes to get a glass of water at the bar.

I ordered a flat-iron steak ($26) with a side salad instead of French fries. “We don’t normally do that,” my server said. “The chef can be kind of militant about sticking to what appears on the menu.” But as I didn’t want potatoes, and was loathe to pay an additional $8 for a salad, he was able to convince the kitchen to make the adjustment.

And my salad was pretty good. The smoked peach vinaigrette with marinated sweet peppers was a good complement to baby spinach. The greens were topped with crumbled chevre cheese and pepitas, along with slices of fresh peach and grapefruit. My 8-ounce steak was cooked medium rare, to my desire, and served in a half-dozen slices with roasted garlic and herb butter. It was delicious.

Prices at Chops are virtually identical to what they were at Latigo. While the main courses were generally excellent, I will patronize other restaurants where I can get consistent preparation with better service.

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

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