Rating Country Catering Co. and Deli

Food: () Freshly barbecued meats, a variety of salads and a choice of multiple condiments.

Service: () Enthusiastic but no-nonsense counter service assures orders are quickly filled.

Atmosphere: () Inside dining may be cozy, so when the sun is out, choose the spacious patio.

If you go

Location: 900 SE Wilson Ave., Bend

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

Cuisine: Barbecued meats and deli salads

Price range: Lunch specials $8.95 to $10.95 (box lunch $9.50); sandwiches $6.95 to $11.95, combo plates $11.95; family dinner specials (for 4) $21.95 to $49

Credit cards: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

Kids’ menu: On request

Vegetarian menu: Try the veggie or Santa Barbara sandwich, or a deli salad

Alcoholic beverages: Draft beer and cider

Outdoor seating: Attached patio

Reservations: No

Contact: bendcatering.com, 541-383-5014

In nearly a quarter century of business in Central Oregon, the Country Catering Co. and Deli has been consistently consistent. And that’s a huge compliment.

Since the time Frank Serbus and his family arrived in Bend from Southern California in 1992, the business has become a part of the food culture of the city. Son Cody grew up in the business, which for at least 10 years has been ensconced in a corner of the East Bend Plaza light-industrial park on SE Wilson Avenue at Ninth Street.

Even before you see the deli, especially busy during an extended lunch hour, you’ll smell the aroma of barbecue. Naturally, the pits are outside, beside a spacious patio that is a favorite of al fresco diners on sunny summer days. Inside, at additional tables beside the deli counter, another couple of dozen diners may find comfortable seating.

But this isn’t a “table service” cafe. Large boards behind the service counter describe the menu of cold, hot and grilled deli sandwiches, the salads, meat plates and other dishes. Orders are accurately taken and quickly called for counter pickup.

A large display case exhibits the variety of marinated meats and salads offered here, both for dining in and for takeout. A retail shelf offers homemade condiments, including barbecue sauce and “Bend’s Best Salsa,” along with specially treated briquettes for home barbecues.

The extensive catering menu (available until 6 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, until 4 p.m. Saturday) makes it easy for busy 9-to-5ers to pick up a meal on their way home. Selections range from chicken and salmon to rack of lamb, glazed pork loin, jambalaya and enchilada casseroles.

Deli sandwiches

For me, however, it’s all about the deli sandwiches, especially those of the grilled variety. A French dip and corned-beef Reuben, a double cheeseburger, grilled turkey and grilled pastrami are all on this side of the ledger.

My favorite is the spicy tri-tip Philly ($9.95). Served on a French roll spread with mayonnaise, the savory barbecued beef, sliced a quarter-inch thick, is piled with sautéed onions and sweet peppers, topped with melty provolone cheese and finished with the Serbuses’ own jalapeño barbecue sauce. My mouth waters just thinking about it.

Every sandwich comes with a choice of deli salad, and there are numerous worthy options. I like the zesty, skin-on “red rose potato” salad, which blends chopped celery, sweet pickles, red and green onion and hard-boiled egg with mayo and Dijon mustard. The coleslaw offers a nice balance between vinegar and sugar, and it’s not plagued by soupiness.

The fiesta corn salad has kernel corn in a mildly spicy mix with black beans, red and green peppers, tomato, red onion and cilantro. The broccoli salad blends its rich green stalks with bacon, carrot, red onion and sunflower seeds.

And there are other side options as well, including Greek and Thai pasta salads, Lebanese tabbouleh, a cucumber salad and barbecued baked beans.

Box or barbecue

One of the deli’s best deals is the box lunch ($9.50), which includes a cold deli sandwich — roast beef, ham, turkey, tuna salad, typically $7.95 or $8.95 by itself — with a salad, soda and freshly baked cookie.

But when I’m especially hungry, I’ll opt for a Grill Combo ($11.95) of various barbecued meats. This combination plate features not only tri-tip with its delicious marinade, but also the burnt ends of pork rib, moist pulled pork and delicious barbecued chicken.

Although the deli is closed Mondays, the Tuesday-to-Friday roster of lunch specials ($9.95 to $12.95) makes a visit on any other weekday a delight. The list of June specials includes a grilled Cuban sandwich or a pulled pork plate on Tuesdays, tri-tip on Wednesdays, smoked pork or brisket on Thursdays, a rib-eye steak sandwich or a burnt-ends plate on Fridays.

And specials include salads not typically on the menu, including a turkey salad, tri-tip Caesar, spinach salad and grilled fajita tostada.

Although Country Catering places its emphasis on barbecued meats, the company hasn’t forgotten vegetarians. Among its sandwich offerings, for instance, is the Santa Barbara, including cream cheese and avocado, dressed with salsa. And gluten-free bread is available on request.

— janderson@bendbulletin.com .

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