CHOW

Food: () Local farm-to-table vanguard continues to serve tasty, nontraditional meals.

Service: () Veteran staff is professional and reliable, well-acquainted with menu.

Atmosphere: () Renovated bungalow, intimate in winter, expands outdoors in summer.

More Info

Location: 1103 NW Newport Ave., Bend

Hours: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day

Cuisine: Locally sourced farm-to-table recipes

Price range: Breakfast $9.50 to $17, lunch $11 to $15

Credit cards: American Express, Discover, Mastercard, Visa

Kids’ menu: On request

Vegetarian and gluten-free menu: Numerous options include veggie Benedict, beet salad, and mushrooms and polenta.

Alcoholic beverages: Fully licensed

Outdoor seating: Expansive, seasonal

Reservations: Large parties only

Contact: www.chowbend.com, 541-728-0256

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

When Chef David Touvell opened Chow in early 2008, it didn’t take much time for the breakfast-and-lunch cafe to establish itself at the vanguard of the local farm-to-fork movement.

Eleven years later, the unpretentious eatery remains a model of sustainability for diners who support Central Oregon’s organic farmers and ranchers. Example: Just inside the front door of the Newport Avenue bungalow is a blackboard that lists three dozen local food providers and other businesses whose services Chow enlists.

Diners in 2019 have become much more cognizant of where their food comes from. Even as Chow has been a catalyst in creating awareness, its from-scratch menu has crept into a comfortable niche among local diners.

Chow remains one of my favorite places to dine in Bend, especially for breakfast. Today, when I visit this intimate house and its three interconnected dining rooms, I feel as if I’ve dropped in on an old friend. That’s especially so during the winter months, before the large outdoor deck and adjacent garden are open for sunny-weather seating.

Whimsical works by local artists hang on the walls of the dining rooms, where a veteran service staff attend to as many as three dozen patrons at tables for two and four.

Eating breakfast

When my dining companion and I arrived for breakfast one recent weekend morning, we were offered bloody marys even before coffee. Although I recall from past visits just how delicious (and vegetable rich!) these vodka-and-tomato beverages are, we settled for the dark brew as we shared two morning entrees.

Sopes Benedict ($17) are a newer entry on the everyday menu. By culinary definition, the Spanish word sopes refers to “fried corn dough topped with beans, cream, lettuce and cheese.” Chow’s version places a pair of poached eggs on a cake of crispy corn masa with chorizo sausage, black beans and pickled serrano pepper.

A lightly lemony hollandaise sauce was spooned over the top of the eggs, which were then finished with crumbled Mexican cheese (queso Oaxacaña) and a dry slaw that I could have done without. But I found everything else about this dish delicious.

We also shared an order of duck confit hash ($16). In the confit method, herb-cured duck is slow-cooked in its own fat, rendering it tender and juicy. Our argument with this recipe, however, was that it wasn’t what we consider to be hash; the pan-fried potatoes were chopped much too coarsely for that. In fact, I wound up pushing most of them aside. But I did enjoy the rest of the dish, with sunny-side eggs atop the duck, served with chili and roasted serranos.

Lunchtime

Returning for lunch, I told our server that I was having a hard time deciding between a Chow burger ($14.50) or a macaroni-and-cheese plate ($14) listed on the daily specials menu. He made it easy by offering both, with the mac-and-cheese as a side, instead of fries.

Both were superb. The burger comprised a double patty of Angus beef, served with house-made kosher pickle slices on a firm bun from Touvell’s own Good Karma Bakery. It was dressed with a zesty aioli and topped with a slice of American cheese, lettuce and tomato. I was disappointed only that even though I had made a special request for grilled onions, my burger carried raw red onion slices.

The macaroni, blended with a creamy cheddar, was mixed with chunks of Oregon sausage, mushrooms, halved cherry tomatoes and strips of kale. I’m glad I was only served a bowl the size of a soup cup: If there were more, I would have eaten it all and rolled out of the restaurant.

My companion chose a crab cake salad ($15). Two large cakes, deep-fried crispy in the style of croquettes, were filled with real crab in a mix with minced carrots and other vegetables. The aioli topping, however, did not extend to an overly generous bed of arugula on which the crab cakes sat. She requested extra. A single slice of crisp bacon lay atop the greens.

The breakfast and lunch menus change often to accommodate what is available fresh seasonally. And the special sheet can change daily.

Chow is a part of the “Bend in Spoon” restaurant group, owned by Touvell and partner Ryan Sturmer. In addition to the Good Karma Bakery, the group includes Local Slice (a pizza restaurant in Brookswood Meadow Plaza) and The Cottonwood Café in Sisters.

Touvell and Sturmer took over the latter establishment, formerly Jen’s Garden, last March; they have continued to operate it as a breakfast-and-lunch cafe in much the same style as Chow, as a quaint downtown cottage with a rear courtyard for warm-weather dining.

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

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