CITIZEN BAR & KITCHEN

Food: () Gastropub fare ranges from standard dishes to more upscale choices.

Service: () Friendly team approach assures prompt delivery of beverages and food.

Atmosphere: () Subdued ambiance is reminiscent of a European coffeehouse.

More Info

Location: 1045 NW Bond St., Bend

Hours: 4 to 11 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 4 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. Happy hour 4 to 6 p.m. every day.

Cuisine: Contemporary American

Price range: Shared plates $5 to $18, salads $9 to $18, entrees $14 to $26

Credit cards: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

Kids’ menu: On request

Vegetarian and gluten-free menu: Kale salad; cheese board; pappardelle pasta with eggplant ragu

Alcoholic beverages: Full bar

Outdoor seating: Sidewalk tables

Reservations: Accepted but not required

Contact: citizenrestaurant bend.com; 541-797-0974

They make quite a pair, do the taciturn Gene Soto and the effusive Sanda Costello.

As friends and business partners, they complement each other well. Their company of three years, Bowtie Catering, has earned notice as one of the busiest and most successful in Central Oregon.

At the start of May — shortly after Costello, a native of Romania who moved to Bend in 2005, was granted American citizenship — they opened a downtown Bend restaurant in the former location of the High Tides seafood eatery.

Citizen Bar & Kitchen was so named to honor the occasion.

Costello’s European sense of style is clearly visible in the ambiance, reminiscent of a Vienna coffeehouse. Hardwood floors, stained a dark brown, are echoed in the tabletops, accented by black vinyl upholstery. Even the primary piece of wall art is framed in wood.

An eight-seat bar adds sophistication at the rear of the 40-seat restaurant, which Costello said she considers a “gastropub” with an emphasis on cocktails and wine rather than beer.

A new direction

Soto, 45, who was executive chef at the Deschutes Brewery a dozen years ago, also owned a restaurant in Walla Walla, Washington, and served as chef at the Columbia Gorge’s Skamania Lodge. He subsequently returned to Bend and partnered in a sandwich shop before opening Bowtie Catering with Costello, 34, as business manager. She had come to Bend to attend Central Oregon Community College; marriage and motherhood kept her in Oregon.

Citizen opened with chef Luke Mason, formerly of The French Market, slated to handle cooking. Two weeks later, he was gone: “He wanted to take our restaurant in a direction that did not represent what Sanda and I wanted to do,” said Soto, who is back in the kitchen for the foreseeable future.

The restaurant’s summer menu offers a choice of shared plates, salads, sandwiches and a handful of entrees.

Small plates are mostly all-American selections such as buffalo wings, baby back ribs and a crab-and-spinach dip. Entrees range from a house burger and pastrami sandwich to a grilled rib-eye steak and seared scallops with cauliflower puree, already a favorite of patrons.

I had tried a number of other items from a previous menu, including cumin-roasted carrots and an artichoke with duck confit. But both Soto and Costello felt this choice “wasn’t recognizable or approachable. We want to be a little more elevated than standard pub fare, but we still want a cheeseburger and roasted chicken on the menu.”

Delicious dinner

If our most recent dinner at Citizen is an indication, the restaurant is moving in the right direction. My dining companion and I shared a meal of steamed clams, a seared pork chop, vegetarian pasta and dessert, and we were delighted with every dish.

Two dozen Manila clams were steamed — together with chunks of smoked pork belly — in white wine with sliced garlic, onions and Chinese parsley. Thin slices of grilled crusty bread were great for soaking up the “juice.”

Pappardelle pasta, locally made by the Deschutes Pasta Company, was blended with an eggplant ragu featuring Mama Lil’s mildly spicy peppers (produced in Portland). Basil and shredded pecorino cheese added flavor. I would have been happier with linguine or another, thinner noodle, but this was a nice plate for meatless diners.

The pork chop was tender and excellent. Soto fashioned a sweet-and-sour agrodolce reduction sauce with peppers, onions and sugar, and served the meat with baby carrots, broccolini and fingerling potatoes, sliced lengthwise.

To finish, we enjoyed a chilled creme fraiche panna cotta, topped with fresh raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and crushed oatmeal cookie. Were we not already sated from the generous portions, we would have made even faster work of the dessert than we did.

Service was superb, with a very friendly bartender and server teaming to assure prompt delivery of beverages and food.

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

20765080