In the restaurant business, continuity assures consistent quality. That’s a big reason why the Nineteen at Awbrey Glen maintains a reputation of excellent food and service, year after year.
This may be a revelation to others in Bend — those who may not have visited the newly renamed golf-club restaurant, located off Mt. Washington Drive in the northwest part of the city — but it comes as no surprise to members of the club or to immediate community members.
Executive chef Darrin Hauser has been at the helm in the kitchen for more than 10 years. Gail Moulton worked as Awbrey Glen’s food-and-beverage director for the past five years, after leaving the Pine Tavern, where she was the longtime manager.
Moulton retired at the end of March, having recently overseen a stylish renovation of the restaurant’s lounge and two adjacent dining rooms. Now, Roseburg native Mike Butler has transitioned seamlessly into the job after stints in Los Angeles and Maui, where he opened Fleetwood’s on Front Street in Lahaina for legendary rock guitarist Mick Fleetwood.
I find Nineteen — as in the 19th hole — to be an especially lovely, relaxing place to dine in spring and summer, when I can sit on the outdoor patio or indoors, beside large picture windows, and watch golfers chip onto an emerald green from a lush fairway with the snow-capped Three Sisters rising behind.
In two recent meals at the Nineteen, I have been especially impressed by Hauser’s execution of numerous gourmet dishes. I think the menu, especially in the evening, could be improved with a greater variety of items — but the preparation was wonderful.
My dinner companion and I shared two dishes to start our meal. A hearty bowl of corn chowder, the soup of the day, was creamy like a New England clam chowder, but instead of marine morsels it had potatoes, chicken, ham and a touch of chipotle pepper for pizzazz.
The Awbrey Glen salad was more than crispy romaine with baby lettuces and spinach. Candied walnuts, dried cranberries, crispy pieces of Granny Smith apple and bleu-cheese crumbles gave it a wide range of flavors, and a house-made marionberry vinaigrette finished the salad with a flavor that was both sweet and tart.
My companion enjoyed a generous cut of beef tenderloin that had first been slow-cooked by the sous-vide method, then pan-seared before plating. A duxelle mushroom cream sauce added a hearty flavor to the medium-rare steak, and a pile of house-mashed potatoes was the perfect complement.
I enjoyed a bowl of seafood pappardelle, a pasta dish that featured broad, flat noodles served up with a range of seafood doused with a garlic-basil cream sauce. Two sizeable pieces of flaky white halibut and one of rich pink salmon, along with New Zealand green-lip mussels and large Pacific Northwest clams, highlighted the dish. I was only disappointed that the quantity of shrimp (a single crustacean) and crab (a couple of bites of crab meat) was so skimpy.
A molten lava cake that my friend ordered for dessert was the only dish that failed to satisfy. Melted chocolate sat in a pool on top of the cake rather than being baked inside, with the result that the center of the cake was too dry.
We returned a few days later for a lunch of salad and sandwich, and were again pleased.
In particular, my companion loved her “BLACT,” an adaptation of the traditional “BLT” sandwich with bacon, lettuce, avocado, crab meat and tomato. Served on grilled multi-grain bread, it didn’t skimp on a single ingredient.
But she saved her biggest raves for the sweet-potato fries, which she chose from among numerous side dishes (including soup, salad, fruit and cottage cheese). She said the fries ranked with the best she’s ever had: “Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, not greasy at all.” A serving of coleslaw was only satisfactory, apple-cider vinegar making it more tart than sweet.
I had a taco salad with sliced chicken breast. Unlike those typically served at Mexican restaurants, it was served on a flat plate rather than in a tortilla shell, with crispy strips of corn tortillas generously sprinkled atop chopped hearts of romaine. Black beans, diced tomato, sliced avocado and shredded cheddar cheese enhanced the salad, while a dollop of sour cream and an ample cup of tangy chipotle vinaigrette dressing were presented on the side.
Butler acknowledged to me that he intends to upgrade a beverage list that has four times as many red wines as whites, and not a single Oregon pinot noir by the glass. There’s also a need for hard cider to accompany the beer list. The “new guy” says he’s on top of that.
— Reporter: firstname.lastname@example.org .