Sip Wine Bar

Food: ()

Very good salads and flatbreads from a kitchen that is the size of a broom closet.

Service: () Friendly and very knowledgeable on wines, which is important at a wine bar!

Atmosphere: () Casual neighborhood gathering place features a spacious patio popular for special events.

More info

Location: 1366 NW Galveston Ave., Bend

Hours: 4 to 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday, closed Sunday

Cuisine: Salads, flatbreads, cheese and charcuterie

Price range: All plates $7 to $17

Credit cards: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

Kids’ menu: No

Vegetarian and gluten-free menu: Excellent salad and vegetable options

Alcoholic beverages: Wine, beer and cider

Outdoor seating: Open-air courtyard with fireplace

Reservations: Private parties

Contact: facebook.com/sipwinebend, 541-323-8466

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

When the kitchen is the size of a broom closet — literally! — there are only so many food choices a restaurant can offer.

That’s the challenge for west-side Bend’s Sip Wine Bar.

“For what we are working with, we are pretty limited,” acknowledged owner Chelsea Whitaker, who bought the cottage from founders Emy and Brad Sanchez in June. “So we focus on the quality of our food, rather than the number of options.”

Whitaker drew upon her experience, managing the Kokanee Café in Camp Sherman, in designing a menu of foods that pair well with wines. Consulting with regional chef Justin Maurice Brown and with former Kokanee co-owner Amy Lowes, Sip’s manager, Whitaker created a menu that draws extensively from local organic farms.

Seasonal salads and gourmet flatbreads are especially popular, along with charcuterie and cheese boards, staples of any good wine bar. “We spend a little more money on nicer meats and cheeses,” Whitaker said. Those meats include dry salami, capicola and prosciutto; among the cheeses, the list of which rotates, are Humboldt fog and an Irish cheddar.

A selection of crostinis — one of which presently includes a fig tapenade, another smoked salmon — helps to fill out the menu, along with a choice of grilled seasonal vegetables, also available with a hummus plate.

The salads are shifting to an autumn menu. A salad of red and golden beets, on a base of creamy goat’s cheese, is replacing a summer caprese salad. (“We only want to serve tomatoes when they’re really ripe and delicious,” Whitaker said.) And a quinoa salad, previously offered with lemon, tahini, cucumber and mint for hot-weather appetites, has been “winter-fied” with roasted squash, pumpkin seeds and cranberries in a balsamic reduction.

In the longer term, Whitaker and Lowes are exploring the option of purchasing a food cart and placing it in a small parking area beside the little cottage. That would allow Sip to serve a greater range of heartier, wine-friendly foods without adding a new kitchen onto the building.

Off the menu

On two recent visits, one with a dining companion, I sampled several dishes from the new menu.

The silky, mashed chickpea spread on the hummus plate ($10) was seasoned with a sprinkle of smoked paprika, adding an extra dimension of flavor. Pita flatbread, rubbed with garlic and lightly grilled, was complemented by a nice selection of roasted fresh seasonal veggies — carrots, broccolini, onions and asparagus among them.

The prosciutto and bleu salad ($12) was about as expected. Peppery green leaves of arugula were tossed with slices of pear and prosciutto, along with crumbles of bleu cheese and nuts. A vinaigrette dressing finished it nicely.

I was less impressed with a charcuterie salad ($14), but perhaps only because of my own preconceived notion of what should be considered “charcuterie.” Salamis and hams belong on a cured-meat board, of course; but so, too, do pâtés and terrines, along with sweet and spicy sausages.

At Sip, the meats are simply cold cuts. Had I approached with that expectation, I might have more thoroughly enjoyed this selection, which was balanced with cheeses, dried figs and apricots, candied almonds and pickled vegetables — all presented on garden-fresh mixed greens with a mild champagne-honey vinaigrette.

From a quartet of flatbreads, I chose the arugula mushroom ($10), and I was amply rewarded with a pizza alternative to please any mushroom lover. A variety of marinated fungi were baked in a savory pesto sauce and topped with shaved Parmesan and arugula. This was probably my favorite of all the dishes I tasted.

Perfect timing

Whitaker said she had been contemplating leaving the food-and-beverage industry when she learned from the Sanchezes — for whom she had managed Sip for several months after it opened in mid-November 2014 — that they were looking to sell.

“This was perfect timing,” she said. “Emy and Brad had created the wine bar, and they were really hoping it could remain a neighborhood wine bar after it sold. That was what I wanted, too. It was just up to me to make it my own.”

On the northeast corner of NW Galveston Avenue and NW 14th Street, opposite the Victorian Café, Sip is a renovated home that consists mostly of one large room, with a welcoming fenced (and fire-heated) patio area. It has become popular for birthday parties and bridal showers.

Inside, there’s seating at high and low tables and at a short wraparound bar. Whitaker said she added paint and curtains to give it “more of a wine bar feel,” and hired employees with a knowledge of wines.

“I want people to be able to come in and talk about wine, and to try wines they may not have tried before. The experience can’t be overwhelming or pretentious.”

The wine menu offers 26 different varietals priced $8 to $12 a glass, with most of them arranged in 2-ounce flight pours that encourage sippers to compare similar but distinct flavors. There are also seven taps with local beers and ciders for patrons who may prefer hops and barley to the noble rot.

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

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