Rating Moose Sisters

Food: ( ) Finesse is lacking in preparation of a broad and eclectic menu.

Service: ( ) Friendly and professional, but glitches include slow delivery of orders.

Atmosphere: ( ) Spacious room with open kitchen and indoor herb garden overlooks shops.

More info

Location: 63455 N. U.S. Hwy. 97, Suite 200, Bend (Cascade Village Shopping Center)

Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Cuisine: Eclectic home cooking

Price range: Weekend brunch $6 to $18; lunch $10 to $18; dinner appetizers $7 to $12, entrees $16 to $30.

Credit cards: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

Kids’ menu: Yes

Vegetarian and gluten-free menu: Dietary restrictions happily catered

Alcoholic beverages: Full bar

Outdoor seating: Second-floor deck overlooking shopping center

Reservations: Recommended

Contact: moosesisters.com, 541-640-8285

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

“Do you know what this reminds me of?” my dining companion posited.

“It’s like when you’re invited to someone’s home for dinner, and the food is kinda good, but not so good that you want to eat it all, but you do anyway because you don’t want to hurt their feelings.”

My friend nailed it: Moose Sisters, in the Cascade Village Shopping Center, is indeed that kind of place.

Relocated to Bend in late June after 15 years in Ketchum, Idaho, where it was recently known as the Moose Girls Cafe (and, before that, the Rustic Moose), the restaurant — owned by sisters Marlene Rinerson and Maxine Veloso — occupies a large space on the second floor of Cascade Village, above the Rue 21 store near the clock tower.

The women had originally planned a move to Portland, where they were looking at a space on Burnside Street near Powell’s Books, but when the Central Oregon opportunity arose, they took advantage of it.

In Idaho, Moose Sisters was known for its gourmet soups, build-your-own salads and other breakfast and lunch offerings. In Oregon, having added dinners, they have work to do.

I asked a server why the restaurant’s tag line is: “True Cuisine and Spirit.” She didn’t have an answer. Indeed, the menu here is so eclectic, with Southwest and Cajun influences along with Southeast Asian, French, Italian and American home cooking, that it seems to run counter to the meaning of “true.”

And while the older demographic of its clientele may pay little attention, the lounge is hardly a spirited, rah-rah sort of place, as the owners are unenlightened as to what sports channels they might show on the assortment of TVs.

Pros and cons

I was hugely disappointed in a lunchtime turkey sandwich, a meal that certainly wasn’t worth the $11 I paid for it.

A modest amount of turkey, with lettuce, tomato and avocado, was stacked between two slices of lightly toasted white bread. That was it.

I preferred the Hawaiian salad I ordered at one evening visit. With a choice of three lettuces for the salad, I chose romaine and spinach, and left out iceberg, which has more crunch than flavor. Morsels of fried chicken were accompanied with pineapple and cashews for the island flavor, along with tomato wedges and a generous sprinkle of white sesame seeds. My only reservation was that it was tossed with too much Caesar-style dressing.

The Hawaiian salad was far superior to a grilled romaine salad I had on a prior visit. The leaves were heated until they were limp, which a heavy pour of balsamic vinegar didn’t help. But ample portions of bacon bits and bleu cheese crumbles did not hurt, and a few slices of bruschetta were a good side touch.

A large bowl of French onion soup was good but far from unforgettable. An entire sweet onion, it seemed, was simmered in beef broth and served with melted Gruyère cheese atop large house-made croutons. In a finesse kitchen, the tureen would have been smaller and the cheese would have sealed heat and flavor beneath a single slice of bread.

Entrée options

Subtlety isn’t an important element in the Moose Sisters’ kitchen repertoire. A meatloaf entrée, for instance, was a nice blend of pork, beef and veal, and it was served with a giant scoop of mashed potatoes covered with brown gravy, along with a large portion of Broccolini. It was good, certainly, but no better than my mother used to make.

My companion’s prime rib, cooked medium-rare just as she had requested, came with similar mashed potatoes and gravy. A serving of carrots cooked with amaretto liqueur added particular interest to this plate, however.

My walleye — a freshwater fish common to the Great Plains and Midwest, but rarely seen in the Northwest — was delicious. Crusted, I believe, with cornmeal and topped Japanese-style with ginger and seaweed, it was perfectly cooked. Accompanying green beans were excellent, but rice pilaf was heavy and sticky.

Service, in my experience, can be inconsistent. On two dinner visits, orders were taken quickly but delivered rather slowly. And when I placed a takeout order for lunch at the bar, I wasn’t even offered a glass of water as I waited, let alone a beer.

There is a good selection of beers, by the way — five on tap, 15 by the bottle. Wines (11 whites, 10 reds) are available for 4-ounce and 8-ounce pours as well as by the bottle. But, again, there’s inconsistency in the pricing scheme.

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

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