Casual yet classy cafe

Upper Terrace Cafe and Wine Shop's owner has more than 20 years' experience

By Julie Johnson, The Bulletin

Editor's note: Things change frequently in the restaurant business, and this article was written more than one year ago. The menu, service, atmosphere and quality may have changed.

Sara Parrish wants you to know there's more to lunch than a soggy sandwich of leftover chicken or a greasy bag from the local fast-food drive-through.

For Parrish, lunch can be casual and quick but still impart the flavors and quality of high-end dining.

Parrish brings her 20-plus years of fine dining experience to Bend's Upper Terrace Cafe and Wine Shop, located in the Old Mill District. There, customers can sit down for a meal, take out a quick sandwich or boxed lunch, or choose a bottle or two of wine from the cafe's small but impressive retail wine selection. Breakfast is also available.

”It's fine-dining food with a cafe experience,” said Parrish.

Upper Terrace Cafe's dining room is a Tuscan-flavored affair with soft terra cotta-colored walls and a tiled floor. Wrought-iron furniture feels continental. The view of the offices and construction projects in the bustling commercial district reminds diners of how Bend's growth has created demand for restaurants just like this one.

As for the fine-dining aspects of the cafe, Parrish brings a lot of experience to hand. Upper Terrace is her seventh restaurant, though it's her first casual lunch and breakfast spot. Most of Parrish's experience is from fine Italian restaurants, including the former Newport Avenue Grill, which she owned for three years.

But, tired of working nights and weekends and looking for a more casual approach to a restaurant, Parrish bought the former Leonardo's lunch spot in the RE/MAX building in the Old Mill District. Tucked into the ground floor of the building, Upper Terrace draws customers from the surrounding office buildings and from former customers of the Grill, Parrish said.

Several items on the menu, including the crab cakes for the crab burger ($8.95 with a side dish), were served at Newport Avenue Grill.

But the menu at the cafe is broader, Parrish said. It features special tacos each week, such as fish, pulled pork or blackened shrimp ($7.95 to $8.95 with a side dish) and a rotating ravioli special (last week it was butternut squash ravioli with a nutmeg cream sauce for $11.95). Salads include the simple Caesar ($5.95) and the decadent steak salad with Gorgonzola cheese and caramelized pecans ($10.95). Sandwiches and wraps run from the club ($7.95) to corned beef grilled panini ($7.95). Daily specials and soup are available, too, and breakfast offerings include biscuit sandwiches and bagels.

Pastry chef Sarah Frost-McKee creates fresh breads and desserts daily. Special dessert orders - such as pecan pies for the holidays - are available.

Parrish said she's out to create the kinds of lunches her customers need, even if that means whipping up something that's not listed on the menu (like turning a chicken salad into a sandwich for a customer in a hurry), or making any number of substitutions to accommodate allergies, diet or preferences. Upper Terrace Cafe does a large to-go business, with orders accepted in person or over the phone. Delivery is available.

As for the wine selection, Parrish said she wanted to offer the kind of changing selection that maintaining a wine list at a fine dinner restaurant doesn't allow. Customers can choose from Parrish's ever-changing inventory or special order bottles.

After several decades in the industry, Parrish said restaurants are still fun, and she hopes to help her customers enjoy dining out.

”I enjoy it,” said Parrish. ”People seem to be happy we're here providing quality and variety and prices.”

Upper terrace cafe and wine shop

Location: 384 S.W. Upper Terrace Drive, Bend

Hours: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday

Price Range: Breakfast starting at $3.95, lunch $5.95 to $11.95

Alcoholic Beverages: Beer and wine

Kids' Menu: No

Reservations: Accepted

Credit Cards: Visa and MasterCard

Contact: 317-0758