The Breakfast Club in Bend

I’ve driven by this place on Greenwood for years, but have never stopped in, until today. I have an hour to kill and haven’t eaten breakfast, so here we are!

Small pseudo art-deco style building sits on the northwest corner of Greenwood and NE 4th street just east of the big intersection of 3rd & Greenwood. Scant parking out back, and apparently the neighboring businesses will be quick to call the tow truck if you spill over into their spots. 

You walk in and see an “L” shaped old-school diner with a counter on the long axis and booths wrapping around the outside windows. You wait to be seated, but in my case the server just told me to sit wherever I pleased. 

The menu

My usual go-to when trying a breakfast at a place I’ve never eaten is Eggs Benedict. Like a Chile Relleno at a Mexican restaurant, Benedicts tell you what level of skill and freshness the kitchen operates. Unlike traditional breakfast items like scrambled eggs, pancakes, etc. Eggs Benedict required some finesse. I also order a side of bacon. 

Service is quick and my bennies arrive:

Eggs Benedict, pepper & hot sauce added by yours truly

The eggs are cooked perfectly! Done throughout but still a tad runny in the yolks. The ham is a super-thin sliced stack, like you would expect in a sandwich. The Hollandaise sauce is OK, but not noteworthy. The English muffin is a bit tough. 

Now hash browns are a matter of personal taste. Everyone likes them their own way. How The Breakfast Club makes them is not my style. These are well-cooked only on one side, and once past the crusty top one finds basically mashed potatoes. I like mine either shoestringed and well cooked on both sides, or more country-fried with peppers and onions cooked in. 

The bacon is thin and very crispy. Service is great, but the food is just average. 

Bennies: $9.90, Bacon: $4.40

No wifi

The Breakfast Club, 378 NE Greenwood Ave, Bend, OR 

Black Bear Diner, Madras (also in Bend & Redmond)

The Cheeseburger Salad at Black Bear Diner

Road Food. That is what I think of when I think of the Black Bear Diner. I always associate eating there with road trips. I have some personal rules about road trips, but the ones I put highest in priority are:

  1. No Fast Food.
  2. No Drive-Throughs.
  3. No Eating In The Car.

I like to get off the road, sit down, and have somebody bring my food to me, enjoy some conversation with my traveling companions, and enjoy the respite from the road.

Black Bear Diners can be found in almost every mid-sized town down the west coast from here. I have made many a road trip down to California and back, and have likely eaten at every Black Bear Diner between here and the Bay Area. Why? Consistent good quality food and service. Sometimes I’ve eaten every meal in one day’s (slow) drive (with a truck and loaded trailer) at Black Bear Diners, with breakfast in Klamath Falls, lunch in Willows, and dinner in Tulare.Oddly, I have eaten at the locations in California far more often than I have the ones right here in Central Oregon. Mostly due to that “road food” association in my mind. The Madras location is my most often visited local stop, either as a breakfast, or dinner break on trips to and from the Portland area. Madras is a good stop for an early breakfast stop to gather ODOT pass condition data (All BBD’s seem to have free Wifi in my experience) before going over Mt. Hood. It also makes for a good stopping point on those late night runs home from Portland where you just want to get out of the car before that last hour of US 97 traffic to get you home. So the Road Food mentality rules again, even close to home.

The Menu

The menu at BBD is huge. It is presented as a newspaper, with the outside of the folio being a reproduction of that town’s newspaper from the past, complete with local ads. The ones I’ve seen range from the 1930s through the 1960s. It is a fun thing to read. The inside of the folio is the full B/L/D menu.

You’ll also find a laminated flip menu on your table with some amazing dessert choices. Black Bear Diner’s berry pies are amazeballs. The only pie I’d steer you away from is the coconut creme pie. I bought one from the Redmond location once to bring to a friend who loves coconut creme pie, and it was a bust. But their berry and other fruit pies are fantastic.

On a recent road trip we stopped and had a dinner after an exhausting day in the car. It was quite late on a weeknight, so the place was almost empty, with just one or two other parties finishing up their meals. In fact a hostess was running a vacuum over the floor when we walked in. She stopped immediately and seated us in a booth. As it was late we opted for a light meal and ordered two salads. My companion picked the “Cheeseburger Salad” and I chose a Chicken Caesar.

Chicken Caesar Salad

The meals arrived promptly, and were fresh and delicious. My companion didn’t like the bacon on her salad, as she said it wasn’t crunchy as she likes it. I happily took it off her salad and added it to mine, as I like bacon any way I can get it! Otherwise she loved the cheeseburger salad.

On other occasions/visits I’ve enjoyed their bacn & eggs, eggs benedict, several sandwiches, and even a steak dinner. All have been great values.

As a final test, I thought I’d test their hot sauces for you dear reader. Not having eggs at this dinner (even though they serve breakfast all day) I tried them on a spoon. Starting with the “Baby  Burn” and working up to the “Papa Burn”…

BBD Hot Sauces

They’re all quite good. None of them are “mild” by any stretch of the imagination, even the “Baby Burn” has some heat. All had some savory flavor to go with the heat. Try them yourself next time! Yum.

 

Black Bear Diner Locations in Central Oregon:

Madras:
237 SW 4th St. Madras, OR

Redmond:
29 NW Cedar Avenue, Redmond, OR

Bend:
1465 NE 3rd St, Bend, OR

Happy Hour Quick Stop: The Brickhouse in Redmond

Manhattan Cocktail and Steamed Manilla Clams

A midwinter sunset is approaching and Testa Rossa says “I want a big Caesar salad for dinner, do we have the stuff to make one?”

“Nope, but we can go to the Brickhouse and have a great one.” I reply.

“Oooh, I like the way you think. Let’s go!”

Not looking for a full dinner service we drive over and beeline for the bar in the back. We’re blown away by the near full-house on a Tuesday night. Every table but one is full, and the bar is packed shoulder-to-shoulder. Thankfully the have a long “bar buddy table” between the bar and the last few two-person tables towards the back with several stools open. We grab our spot at the end of the table, and are warmly greeted by the staff.

I will admit to being a regular diner at the Brickhouse’s original Redmond location. Why? In an industry that sees likely the highest employee turnover in the USA, the serving staff at the Redmond Brickhouse has remained solid. Servers LJ & Leslie, and Bartender Brian have been there as long as I can remember (which is about eight years of eating here. Anyone remember the wooden menus?) They are true professionals and really make a visit to the Brickhouse something special. Even though we’re here for just a cocktail and a salad, they care for us the same as they would any other patron.

We order a couple of Brickhouse Manhattan cocktails, and I arm-twist Testa Rossa into an order of clams as a starter. She reminds me of our diet, so I request no bread on the side, which is a true hardship becasue the bread at the Brickhouse is sublime!

The cocktails are perfect expression of what a Manhattan should be: savory and tart, rather than sickly sweet. Perfect balance of flavors, and beautifully presented in a martini glass.

If you like steamer clams, then get yourself to the Brickhouse as quick as you can. I love them, having eaten them since I was a little kid. Having spent a large portion of my life in the Puget Sound region (“…Surrounded by Acres of Clams!”) I know good clams when I find them. These are DAMN good clams!

Small, tasty, and swimming in a wonderful white wine, garlic, and clam juice broth… we devour the clams swiftly, with half of them being gone before I can remember to snap a photo of them for you. They really should serve the clams with a spoon to allow you to slurp up all the clam broth, because that is the best part. Oh wait, that is what the bread is for… oh well. We make do with clam shells, and clean the bowl.

Despite her initial hankering, Testa Rossa orders a “Local Organic Greens” salad, while I stick to the initial mission profile and land a Caesar. Ever thoughtful our server LJ asks if I’d like some chicken with the salad, which I thankfully accept.  Our salads arrive just as we’ve put down the clam bowl for good. My Caesar is heavenly. Leafy and green, with just the right amount of dressing, with that slight essence of anchovies that makes it real… makes it tangy. The chicken is a perfect accompaniment.

We had to pass on their amazing dessert menu this time (try the cobbler!) but we will be back and I’ll prepare a full review. Their steaks and seafood are amazing, as is their wine cellar. If you are a wine nut like I am, you have to visit if only to see the wine cellar. Behind the bar it is a work of art, both of carpentry and of the vintners craft.
The Brickhouse locations:

412 SW 6th Street, Redmond, OR
541-526-1782

5 NW Minnesota Ave, Bend, OR
541-728-0334