Rating Greg’s Grill
Food: () Preparations, which may be inconsistent, balance creative with classical.
Service: () Professional and friendly, even when short-staffing leads to inefficient delivery.
Atmosphere: () Riverside lodge is one of Bend’s most beautiful restaurants.
Location: 395 SW Powerhouse Drive (Old Mill District), Bend
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Cuisine: Pacific Northwest
Price range: Lunch $7.95 to $19.95; dinner starters $5.95 to $15.95, entrees $16.95 to $36.95
Credit cards: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Kids’ menu: Seven dinner choices $6.95 to $10.95 for guests 12 and under
Vegetarian and gluten-free menu: Best options are the Oregon mushroom lentil cake entree and the gluten-free New England clam chowder
Alcoholic beverages: Full bar
Outdoor seating: Expansive riverside patio seats 70
Contact: gregsgrill.com, 541-383-2200
Ten years ago, when Greg Hubert established Greg’s Grill, his namesake restaurant, in the Old Mill District, he did so as an expression of love for Central Oregon.
Although Hubert and his wife, Teresa, make their home in the Seattle area, they’ve been vacationing in Bend for many years. Indeed, Greg Hubert is a partner in the corporation that owns Bend’s Red Robin and Johnny Carino’s restaurants.
Other than having a common owner, Greg’s Grill is not affiliated with those restaurants. The palatial Grill, built at a cost of $5 million, has no counterpart on this side of the Oregon Cascades.
Soaring, wood-beam architecture lends it a lodge-style appearance. At any one time, 280 patrons may enjoy a view of the Deschutes River through huge floor-to-ceiling windows. During the summer concert season, as many as 70 more may reserve tables on the riverside patio to dine while listening to Jack Johnson, Paul Simon or Diana Krall.
The menu features several seafood appetizers and entree salads. Steak and fresh seafood dominate the list of dinner entrees, but dishes such as Oregon mushroom lentil cake (with mushrooms and sweet potatoes, wasabi cream and a Japanese salad) and macaroni and cheese with braised brisket clearly establish that there’s creativity in the kitchen along with classic cuisine.
On two recent visits to Greg’s with my dining companion, service was excellent in the evening, very disappointing at midday. On that lunch occasion, a single server was trying valiantly to cover two sections of tables, assisted only by a pair of busboys. The inefficiency was highlighted not only by slow delivery, but also by improper delivery of orders.
Our dinner was solid. We were seated promptly and immediately treated to freshly heated Sparrow Bakery bread with garlic butter.
We followed with a Caesar salad ($7.95), which was split for us on two separate plates. No doubt it had been made in advance, because the chopped romaine was refrigerator cold. The dressing notably lacked anchovy, but it was overly flavored with lemon (I prefer to squeeze my own) and especially garlic, chopped and fried. Croutons and shaved Parmesan finished the salad.
My grilled and blackened Columbia River steelhead ($27.95) was cooked as I like it, just enough to flake easily with a fork. But its warm apple-fig chutney topping was much too heavily seasoned with salt and herbs. Crispy pancetta bacon and a tangy beurre blanc sauce finished the dish, which was served with Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and a medley of nicely prepared green beans and carrots.
My companion had the same accompaniments with her 10-ounce rib-eye steak ($32), offered that evening as a menu special. (The everyday menu also has a flatiron steak, a sirloin and a filet mignon.) Like any proper rib-eye, it was tender and marbled with fat. But even she, who likes salt more than I, expressed that it was already so heavily seasoned, she didn’t need to salt it any further.
Our excellent server, when we expressed disappointment with the selection of wines by the glass, directed us to a long list of bottle selections priced at just $33. We found a cabernet we liked, had one glass each and had the balance recorked for us to take home.
At midday, my companion selected the Blue and Balsamic Burger ($13.95), half a pound of ground wagyu beef with blue cheese melted into the sandwich, not merely sprinkled as an afterthought. Topped with lettuce and grilled onions, drizzled with a balsamic glaze, it was served on a brioche bun from Big Ed’s Artisan Bakery.
She had requested it cooked medium-well; it came back medium-rare. But the glaze locked in its juices so efficiently, she hardly noticed. The sandwich was served with a dill pickle and a moderate offering of french fries.
My order was for Greg’s Slow Roasted Rotisserie Chicken ($15.95), a quarter of an organic, free-range chicken with fries and a Caesar salad. The restaurant got it wrong on two counts. Not only was I served simple greens instead of a Caesar; I got far less than the quarter-chicken the menu promised.
“Oh, my, you’re right!” my server responded. “That’s about one-eighth of a chicken!”
A drumstick and thigh weren’t quite what I had expected. But management was immediately responsive and replaced my plate with another that had a breast as well. And the bird was tasty and tender.
In fact, the meal as a whole, once my order had been corrected, may have been better than my dinner: It was not overly seasoned, for which I was grateful, and my Caesar dressing on this occasion was notably better than it had been at dinner.
I demurred when Greg’s manager offered to buy us dessert as an apology. But I did appreciate the gesture. And despite the snags, I look forward to my next visit to this Old Mill restaurant — especially if I can get a reservation during a summer show across the river at Les Schwab Amphitheater.
— John Gottberg Anderson can be reached at email@example.com .
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