Tim Garling’s Jackalope Grill in Bend

Adam Smith wasn’t an economist, he was, in the parlance of his day, a “Moral Philosopher.” He was an observer, thinker, teacher, and a writer. One of his postulates based on observation is the societal benefit of the division of labor. Rather than each of us having to do everything for ourselves in order to survive, we all specialize in something and contribute that specialty back to society. This give-and-take benefits us all and as Smith wryly observed, has allowed us to rise up from a primitive, difficult culture to a productive, comfortable one. On a macro scale it has produced truly amazing things such as transcontinental flight (which ironically we loathe as an inconvenience!) and portable currency. On a micro-scale it feeds us at restaurants with great ingredients from local producers.

As such I have always preached how it  pays to be a regular customer of any business, especially fine dining establishments. Eating after all, is the most basic of human needs, but fine cuisine has raised that most basic of things to high art of a most satisfying nature. We bring our currency, and the restaurant exchanges it for sustinence and service… win/win. To escalate that to a higher level, become a “regular.” Every businessperson knows that your best customers are the ones who keep coming back. Long ago, I ran a business and we knew precisely who our best revenue producing customers were, and I had every one of their contact details in my phone. I knew them on a first name basis. I also took my staff and customers frequntly to a sushi bar nearby for lunch quite often. We had an office tradition of “payday sushi”, meaning a trip to the sushi bar for lunch (almost) every payday.  The Owner/Sushi Chef at this place recognized our “regular” status, to the point that after a year or so, he would start making my order (Sushi Combo & Spicy Tuna Roll) as soon as I walked in the door. He never learned my name (he just called me “Boss”) but he knew who I was. My portions were bigger, I would get the best cuts and freshest fish. We treated each other well. Perfect Symbiosis.

I’ve been eating at The Jackalope Grill since the first month I moved to Central Oregon. Back then the Jackalope was in a strip mall south of Reed Market Road, a bit off Third street. It was hard to find and, to be honest, had near zero curb appeal. BUT… once inside, it was great. Fine food, a great wine list, and an excellent staff. It was through the wine list that I met Kathy Garling. Wine has been a passion of mine for a long time, and I have always enjoyed finding great wines at bargain prices. I recall seeing an obscure Chilean red wine on their list and ordered it. Kathy intercepted the order from our waiter and brought the bottle to our table herself. I recall that she remarked that I was the first person to ever order this wine, so she wanted to meet the oddball who picked it. We had a conversation about wines, and have been good acquaintances ever since.

The Jackalope Grill has since relocated to a far better space on Lava Rd in Downtown Bend, just north of the Oxford Hotel. This space is wonderful, and has a lovely courtyard filled with a vegetable/herb garden that makes a for fantastic alfresco dining in the warmer months. There is a cozy bar up front, and a warm, welcoming dining room.

Regular Menu

We stayed home for Valentine’s Day Dinner, mostly because we are practical people, and know what a circus V-Day can be at any restaurant. But we chose to celebrate the night after (2/15) with a dinner at The Jackalope. The dining room is not quite full, but you can tell the people who are in attendance have a similar cut to their jibs… Smart folks.

Usually I’ll order their amazing Grilled Romaine Salad as a starter. It is delicious! My date does order it, and confirms my diagnosis. As for mains, I’ve always had a rough time selecting between the astounding Rack of Lamb, or one of the steaks. Tonight however, the choices off the specials were too tempting to pass up:

Specials Menu

For my starter I order the “Burrata, Prosciutto, and Leeks on Grilled Country Bread.”

It is amazing.

I’ve actually never eaten anything like it before. The fresh mozzarella is creamy soft, and the flavor combination it makes with the leeks, prosciutto, and bread is wonderful! Just one of those savory treats that just satisfies your soul.

For dinner my date chooses the Ragu alla Bolognese, and I select the Paleron de Boeuf au Vin Rouge, which is described as:

“A warming wintertime classic of French country cooking. The Paleron is a very beefy, hardy cut from the shoulder perfect for braising in red wine. Served with mashed potatoes, oven-dried tomato and natural sauce.”

It arrives in a large bowl and includes roasted vegetables, and a modest amount of mashed potatoes at the bottom of the bowl. I like the nod to healthier eating and leaving out the mountain of potatoes! The vegetables are a nice winter mix of carrots, turnips, green beans, etc. The beef is heavenly! Tender and tasty, with a crackling thin crust of a wine reduction. It is perfectly seasoned… so much that I never even touch the salt & pepper on the table. The sauce is spectacular! Wonderfully French. The photo I take just doesn’t do it justice:

Dinner. Top: Ragu alla Bolognese. Bottom: Paleron de Boeuf au Vin Rouge.
 For the two of us this is not only a Valentines celebration, but something of a “Mardis Gras” as we’re going on diets the next day to look our best for an upcoming event. As such, we must have dessert!
Having tasted my way through their dessert menu I opt for the Creme Brulée. The Jackalope Grill makes one of the best Creme Brulée in the world. Nothing fancy, just straight forward, traditional French-style CB. The creme is soft, and not mealy/cold like you find in so many places. Bereft of the usual attempts to make it fancy with lemon, or cheese-cake style textures… Tim Garling’s Creme Brulée is perfect, and traditional. Served with a raspberry, atop a perfectly carmelized crunchy top.
Half eaten Creme Brulée
We are truly blessed to have Tim & Kathy Garling here in Central Oregon to take the fresh ingredients of the region and transform them through skill and labor into some amazing cuisine. I honestly rank The Jackalope Grill atop my list of favorite restaurants in the region. If you haven’t visited yet, what’s stopping you?
750 NW Lava Rd #139, Bend, OR 97701

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *