Palmer’s Cafe

Food: () Breakfasts are famous, but overcooked meat was a problem at two meals.

Service: () Mostly prompt and polite, though youthful staff’s laughter was distracting.

Atmosphere: () Cafe still feels like a 1920s residence, one room flowing into the next.

More Info

Location: 645 NE Greenwood Ave., Bend

Hours: 6:30 a.m.-2 p.m. every day

Cuisine: American

Price range: Breakfast $6.25 to $13.95, lunch $7.25 to $13.25

Credit cards: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

Kids’ menu: Lighter-side menu for children and seniors

Vegetarian and gluten-free menu: Veggie omelet, blueberry-banana nut French toast, salads

Alcoholic beverages: Fully licensed

Outdoor seating: Seasonal deck

Reservations: No

Contact: palmers.cafe, 541-317-5705

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

Palmer’s Cafe is probably no longer “Bend’s best-kept secret,” as the east-side establishment likes to promote itself.

After 20 years of business, attached to a small residential motel on Greenwood Avenue, Palmer’s is well known for its simple but well-prepared breakfasts and lunches.

Truth be told, I’m not as big a fan today as I was before the previous owners, who had Palmer’s for 15 years, sold the business at the start of 2017.

Prices have jumped about 25 percent since. Baked goods were scaled back. Other than changing the entrance from one door to another, and creating a deck shared by smokers and diners as they waited for a table, the only apparent cosmetic changes were to replace scenic photos with others.

On two recent visits with my dining companion, I was assured that the menu is being updated and sweets are slowly being restored, including Palmer’s popular cinnamon rolls.

But that doesn’t get around a level of service that is not as experienced and professional as it once was. And it certainly doesn’t excuse a kitchen that failed on consecutive attempts to cook hamburger meat “medium.” My companion’s beef was first badly overcooked, then practically raw, before she was close to satisfied.

Morning meal

None of this is to say that Palmer’s isn’t a worthy meal stop. We did ultimately enjoy our meals.

On a breakfast visit, my friend ordered a shrimp omelet ($13.50), with a generous serving of pre-frozen bay shrimp wrapped in three eggs along with spinach, tomatoes, avocado and mild jack cheese. It was topped with a not-too-lemony hollandaise sauce and a sprinkle of green onions.

Instead of potatoes, she asked for a hot cake on the side, and got two of the nonyeasty, buckwheat variety. With a little maple syrup, they were delicious.

My breakfast was a breaded pork cutlet steak and two eggs ($12.95), a departure from chicken-fried steak with pan-fried potatoes and rye toast. The white country gravy, with chunks of pork sausage, was peppery and not overly thick.

But the cutlet was heavily breaded and cooked nearly to crispy-burnt. I stripped off the breading and liked the meat much better without.

Third time the charm

Our subsequent lunch was the meal with the burger incident. My companion had looked forward to her bacon cheeseburger ($11.75), topped with cheddar, two strips of bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and raw red onions. But she was shocked by her first bite of dry, cardboard-like meat.

The server was very accommodating and brought back another sandwich five minutes later. Yet, it was so undercooked that its red juices immediately began bleeding onto her plate. Fortunately, the third time was the charm.

My friend enjoyed her tangy potato salad and wished the cook better luck with his next burger.

I had Palmer’s Santa Fe wrap ($12.25) and a side salad. Loosely wrapped in a large flour tortilla and cut in half, it was a tasty if sloppy preparation, the kind that made me want to wash my hands afterward. A chipotle mayo sauce drenched the chicken, bacon, pepper-jack cheese, grilled onions and tomatoes that went into the wrap; if that wasn’t enough, I could doctor it with a side of guacamole.

Half of my plate was taken up by the fresh green salad, which came with tomatoes, red onions, croutons, Mexican cheese and a honey-mustard dressing (my request).

Old-time feel

Palmer’s takes its name from Palmer Giskaas, an early Bend resident who built a home here in 1922. By the 1960s, it had grown into a hotel, and meals began to be served in the ’80s. The restaurant was formally established in 1997.

Nearly a century after its construction, the cafe has the feeling of an old house, its simple tables flowing from one room into another.

Service was mostly prompt and polite, though notably young. Judging from laughter, two of the staff apparently were telling each other funny stories behind the counter as we tried to get their attention. A young man was more reliable.

Some diners are surprised to discover Palmer’s cocktails. Despite its very casual nature, and the fact that it closes by 2 p.m. daily, the cafe is known for its excellent “eye-openers,” including a bloody Mary reputed to be among Bend’s best. I can only guarantee that the freshly brewed coffee is excellent.

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

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected. In the original version, Palmer Giskaas was misidentified. The Bulletin regrets the error.

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