Wild Oregon Foods

Food: () Mostly excellent, with meats and salads better than Jewish deli choices.

Service: () Counter orders are quickly and politely taken and delivered.

Atmosphere: () Divided dining room and lounge feature original art on the walls.

More Info

Location: 61334 S. U.S. Highway 97, Suite 360, Bend.

Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday

Cuisine: Northwest-influenced deli

Price range: Starters and salads $4 to $12; sandwiches $7.50 to $12; entrees $11 to $14; weekend brunch $8 to $12

Credit cards: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

Kids’ menu: Three meal options, $4 to $6.

Vegetarian and gluten-free menu: Salads, soups, chickpea salad sandwich, all designated on menu.

Alcoholic beverages: Fully licensed

Outdoor seating: Seasonal

Reservations: Recommended for groups of 6 or more.

Contact: wildoregonfoods.com, 541-668-6344

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

Christmas shopping can be a grueling task. Hours of scouring display shelves, sorting through tables of discount clothing, and tracking heavy bags to the car can make for tired feet and backs.

Now, there’s a new place to recharge body and spirit at the Bend Factory Stores on S. Third Street. Wild Oregon Foods, which opened Sept. 12 in a space that held Italian and Mexican restaurants, brings a casual deli-style approach to dining on Bend’s south side.

Executive chef and owner James Fink — who cooked at Jackson’s Corner, Brasada Ranch and the Deschutes Brewery — sees the spacious cafe as a place where he can “play with different cuisines, sourcing as locally as possible, when possible.”

Despite the restaurant’s name, he’d rather talk about “world foods” than “wild foods.” Dishes with bison and elk are featured on the everyday menu, and rabbit stew has made an appearance as a daily special. But his emphasis has been on the deli foods that he enjoyed growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, just as his wife, Sarah, did in New York.

“We don’t have the normal deli counter that you’d see in L.A. or Brooklyn,” he said. “There are no sliced meats to go. But we are already getting a regular following, even though we’re a new spot and there’s not much of an advertising budget.”

Jewish bites

The big-city deli concept has led him to offer foods typical of Jewish delis, including potato latkes, challah bread, matzo ball soup and traditional Reuben and Rachel sandwiches, here reinvented as sliders.

Fink has even offered warm borscht (beet-and-cabbage) as a soup of the day.

My dining companion is of Jewish heritage, and she took exception to the treatment given some of these more customary dishes as Hanukkah approaches.

She said the house-made latkes (two for $7), served with applesauce and creamy horseradish, were more the consistency of johnnycakes than pancakes — at least an inch thick and pan-fried to a hard crust.

Making matzo ball soup ($7.50) with vegetable stock rather than chicken soup, she said, would please vegetarians but not traditionalists. Even the balls were made with unleavened flour, water and egg, but no chicken fat.

She approved of a set of Reuben sliders (three for $12), more for their delicious braised corned beef (with pickled cabbage, Havarti cheese and smoked aioli dressing) than for the marbled-rye buns on which they were served.

But, then, Fink was not following any tried-and-true recipe.

The dishes were “chef’s creations,” as expressed by his brother, Mike Fink, who serves as front-of-house manager.

Elk and bison

I was very pleased with the short list of entrees, simple though they were.

Two pasta dishes were made with spiral rotini noodles. Elk Bolognese ($14) combined ground elk with the classic, tomato-rich Italian sauce, blending in onion, celery and carrot. It was topped with shaved Parmesan.

Bison mac and cheese ($11) featured ground bison with a house-made four-cheese sauce, along with spinach and caramelized onions. A hearty comfort food, it tasted much like beef stroganoff.

Carbonade + Stoemp ($14) was suggestive of a chunky shepherd’s pie. Beef was braised on Dubbel or Nothing beer from Bend’s Monkless Belgian Ales. It was served on a mash of potatoes with parsnips and carrots.

I also enjoyed the salads. A ginger chicken salad ($9), dressed with a ginger-sesame oil vinaigrette, had an Asian influence. It was made with three cabbages (green, red and Napa), arugula, cilantro, parsley, carrots and shallots. Instead of the bell pepper promised on the menu, my salad featured shaved fennel — an excellent addition, to say the least.

A simple farm salad ($6 small, $8 large) offered mixed greens (spinach, arugula and red leaf lettuce) with seasonal root vegetables (red and golden beet, with parsnip). Garlic, fresh dill and sunflower seeds were sprinkled on top, and the salad with tossed with an avocado ranch dressing.

Daily sandwich specials ($9 and $10) offer soup or salad with one of four popular sandwiches — roasted turkey, grilled steak, Italian grinder or a vegan chickpea salad.

Weekend brunch

On Saturday and Sunday mornings, Wild Oregon Foods serves a weekend brunch. And my companion was so taken with the Wild Hash ($10), she promised she’d be returning soon just for that dish.

Chopped beets, carrots and potatoes were roasted together, topped with multiple slices of corned beef, then finished with a pair of eggs, fried over easy. The hash is also available as a vegan option for $8.

I opted for cardamom French toast ($9). Three pieces of challah bread, doused in cardamom custard and fried, were served with powdered sugar. Maple syrup came on the side; butter was provided on request. I also had a side of one egg and three slices of bacon ($3 each). The breakfast was excellent.

Mike Fink greets guests and takes orders at a tall counter beside the front door of Wild Oregon Foods. Orders are soon delivered to their choice of table, identified by number.

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