Thursday, August 15, 2013

Greg's Grill - Bend, Oregon

395 NW Powerhouse Drive
Bend, Oregon
Happy Hour: 3 PM - close, daily

Happy Hour ALL night EVERY night is a fantastic option that I think ALL restaurants should consider. Greg's Grill has and it seems to be working. As long as you don't mind sitting in the bar (or the attached patio) you can benefit from discounted foods and drinks no matter the hour.

We stopped in after spending some time at The Old Mill. We were in Bend for a conference and were pulled in by the shopping, the Naked Winery, and the live music playing in the park (a weekly occurrence during the summertime, perhaps).

Greg's Grill was especially busy on a Wednesday evening. Busier than we expected anyway. My guess is it had something to do with the rain (and the discounts) and the live music (and the cheap drinks). There weren't too many seats available in the bar but the patio was mostly covered and we decided to take the risk.

After sharing some cheesy snacks earlier in the day, I needed a good dose of vegetables. I ordered one of the salads listed on the menu. It was a mix of greens, pickled red onions, cranberries, and chopped nuts.

Across the table was the wedge salad (or two). A popular choice, the wedge was topped with creamy dressing, grape tomatoes, and a pile of crumbled bacon.

We also shared a plate of hummus and an order of sweet potato fries.

The hummus plate came with so much more than expected. There were roasted red peppers, kalamata olives, cucumbers, marcona almonds, and delicious pita bread triangles.

Service at Greg's was definitely efficient. They were quick to take our order and great about taking their time when need be.

I love an ALL NIGHT happy hour but this ALL night EVERY night concept is exceptional.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Meets


Greg's Grill on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Flatbread Community Oven - Bend, Oregon

375 SW Powerhouse Drive #130
Bend, Oregon
Happy Hour: 3 - 6 PM, daily

Tiered pricing at Flatbread Community Oven makes this happy hour a FANTASTIC choice for dinner. The menu is long enough to please the whole family and the portions are big enough to make one stop (a very well-priced stop) enough to fill you up.

Happy Hour is not limited to the bar area, making the availability of seating seem somewhat endless. We were able to snag a booth and went to town making selections from the menu. Sharing a number of items between the four of us made it easy to sample the many flavors without looking like I couldn't decide what to order.

They have beer, wine, and community cocktails available at a discount during happy hour. It's not so common to see that all signature cocktails available on the menu are available at a discount. So often, it's one...or none. At Flatbread, you can order any of their cocktail offerings for $6 (down from eight).

At the table, we sampled cheesy flatbread, the Fontina Fonduta, a small chopped salad, and the margherita pizza. That's a lot of cheese and bread and bread and cheese, but sometimes that's just what you need (or want).

The chopped salad was chocked full of garden vegetables. There were zucchini chunks, mushrooms, tomatoes, cheese crumbles and a light vinaigrette. Almost every salad on the menu is available at a discounted price during happy hour. (It's like the whole menu is available for less!)

My favorite flavor while at Flatbread was the Margherita Pizza. A margherita pizza is always such a great choice when you want to keep things simple. The happy hour size is definitely smaller than the regular versions of the same, but with a salad (or another side) it is enough to make a full meal for sure.

There aren't any Flatbreads in the Portland area (yet), but they are available in Bend, Boise, and Salt Lake City. I'm hopeful that we'll see one soon enough...

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Exceeds


Flatbread Community Oven on Urbanspoon

Sonic Drive-In

Multiple Locations
Happy Hour: 2 - 4 PM

Slushes in the summertime make me happy. (They also make me feel like I'm in the third grade again.) And slushes at half-price make me want to live closer to the main slushy source, Sonic. Sonic Drive-Ins were only in the commercials (or so it seemed) until recently. They started popping up a few years ago and now it seems that they are everywhere but Portland. We passed at least two on our way to Bend last week and immediately knew that it would be the perfect icy-cold treat on the way back. And luckily enough, we were driving by at the perfect time.

Sonic offers slushes (both the classic AND the fresh fruit variety) for half-price every afternoon between two and four. They aren't all that pricy to begin with, but the savings makes it that much better. (They also have discounts on milkshakes later in the day.) Some of the fancier versions (those that are topped with whipped cream) aren't included in the discount pricing.

I was excited to see that they had fresh fruit options and immediately selected lime as my flavor of choice (it almost always is...). There were a few others on the menu that looked appealing and then a few that seemed all too sweet.

The ice was PERFECT but tough to conquer while in the car. I took my time, letting the flavors melt back into shape, and enjoyed the beverage all the way up and over the mountain.

They have plenty of other snacking items available at Sonic. And full meals, if that's what you want. I'll probably stick to the slushes. And I'll do my best to order them between two and four.

Food: No Evidence
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets (they're on skates!)
Ambiance: Meets (drive ins are the best!)
Value: Exceeds


Sonic Drive In on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Hola! - Bend, Oregon

680 SW Powerhouse Drive
Bend, Oregon
Happy Hour: 3 - 6 PM, Monday through Friday

There are FOUR Hola! restaurants in Bend (if you count the Sun River location) and they all offer happy hour discounts that might just be enough to force you to eat an early dinner in the very near future...and then again soon after. With $2 off Margaritas and Mojitos AND $3 off all appetizers, you can get a pretty good start to any meal OR eat enough to make it a meal for a very reasonable price.

We had big plans for some official happy hour hopping while in Bend, so we stopped in just long enough to try out a couple of their margaritas and a plate to share.

The appetizers took up a full page in the menu, making it a little harder to pick just one. Luckily, we all had our eye on the same thing. After double checking to make sure that the nachos could be ordered with the meat on the side, it was a go.

The margarita menu also took up a fair amount of space. I narrowed it down to about three before the server made it to the table. The vanilla infused tequilas were quite intriguing but, in the end, I went with the one that came with the best name. Who wouldn't order the Super Margarita? It's not a super hero, but it is made with all fresh ingredients. My favorite part about the Super Margarita (and every Margarita on the menu at Hola!) was the fact that ordering one really means that you're going to be served two (or maybe three). Each margarita is served in the typical glass WITH a very full martini shaker on the side. I was impressed with the flavors AND the amount.

While sipping on the margaritas and waiting for our nachos, the server brought out a basket of chips (yes, chips before chips) and two small bowls. The salsa was somewhat expected but the other dipping sauce was something I've never had. It was bright green and looked a lot like the mint chutney I'm used to eating with samosas at my favorite Indian restaurant. I'm not all that certain about the ingredients, but I know that it was a bit addicting and had me eating too many chips.

The Nachos Cubano arrived soon after but didn't last long. The black beans and pulled pork (on the side, of course) were a hit at our table. There was an exceptional amount of cheese melted on top and enough sour cream and guacamole to keep everyone happy.

While at the table, I spied a HUGE dinner plate being served to a nearby table. Everything on that plate looked heavenly. It made me want to stay for more. If only I wasn't SO determined to get to the next place. Next time, I will have to plan things differently because this is a place that I want to get back to.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Meets


Hola! on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Farmers Revival Salad Bistro Food Bloggers Dinner

Disclaimer: Our dinner was complimentary, but all of our opinions are our own.

Not long ago, I wrote about an upcoming healthy fast food salad bistro restaurant that Dave Rose is planning on opening in the future. Dave was really excited (and persistent) about getting the word out, and I thought it sounded like a great idea. It didn't stop there, though! After writing about the restaurant plans and Kickstarter campaign, we were contacted again about having a special food blogger dinner so we could actually try some of the menu items. I was excited that we would be able to experience the food that he will offer, since he is in the beginning stages of raising money for the restaurant at this point.

We ended up meeting at Dave's parents' restaurant, Mark's NW Table, which is located in Gresham. The three of us work nearby, so it was cool to be introduced to a restaurant that we hadn't tried before (we only rarely get to go out to lunch during the school year--only on teacher planning days). The restaurant is closed on Mondays, so we had the place to ourselves. We started by introducing ourselves, and Dave gave us background about himself and his family and his vision for the restaurant. As it turns out, he actually attended the middle school where the three of us work! Small world!

It was fun hanging out with other food bloggers again! We had already met Pech a few times, so we were excited to see her again, but we also got to meet two more bloggers who we had only interacted with on Twitter or via email. Amy of eatingmywaythruportland (who seems to have encouraged Dave to organize this dinner--thanks, Amy!) and Jane of inthepinkandgreen were there, as well as the token male, Amy's husband! It is so much fun to meet other people who like eating and talking about food as much as we do, and we spent the entire time talking about favorite restaurants, food carts, and happy hours.

What struck me the most about this dinner was how genuinely nice Dave is. He has a great idea, and he has clearly been doing his research by looking at other similar restaurants in other cities, but he doesn't come across as arrogant or "schmoozy." He is trying to gain publicity and raise money, but he isn't a typical salesman-type guy. He seems sincere, driven, humble and family-oriented. We also got to meet his wife, Page, and his adorable son, and he talked about testing out the salads on his other two kids at home as well. Not to mention, he seems to have close ties with his extended family.

Our dinner began with homemade vegan minestrone soup and warm bread. Dave believes that this will be an everyday staple in the salad bistro, because when he has tested out this soup against other soup recipes, everyone seems to like this one best. It was hearty, full of vegetables (Dave got the veggies at the farmers' market), and delicious. It was amazing to me how something so simple was so great. I was already starting to feel a little full before we even got our main course salads.

When I originally heard about the type of salad we would be trying, I was intrigued. It was the Indian-inspired salad, and I wasn't sure how I would feel about it. I think Dave made a great choice in serving us this particular salad, because no one had had anything quite like it before. It had golden beets, cauliflower, quinoa (something I had decided I didn't like, but I think he has changed my mind in small quantities), mixed greens, just the right amount of homemade dressing, spices, nuts, and chicken. There was so much going on, but it all worked together so well. I also liked that the salad was served in metal bowls, although others at the table disagreed with me. They thought the salad should be served in white bowls to make the colors stand out more. Another person didn't care for the clinking of the fork on the bowl. I suggested perhaps wooden bowls would showcase the salads better, but someone pointed out that might be too difficult to clean. In any case, almost everyone said that they probably wouldn't have chosen the Indian salad as their first choice from a menu, but that it was fantastic and they were so glad that they got to try it (and would love to eat it again!) This was another case of me being so happy to be forced to try something outside of my comfort zone because it ended up being so great! You can tell that Dave puts a lot of effort into making such a simple meal (soup, salad and bread) into something that feels like a gourmet treat. All of the ingredients were fresh, healthy, and local.

I asked Dave what kind of desserts he planned to offer at the upcoming restaurant, wondering whether they would fit into the healthy fast food theme. I don't know about you, but I have not had much luck with "healthy" desserts. Well, Dave likes the idea of offering frozen yogurt, which I personally love, but he also has something else as a possibility. Although it is not really healthy, it is something that is fresh and local--mini pies. His mom and sister have been experimenting with making mini pies to sell at Mark's NW Table, and they just happened to leave a few for us to try for dessert. Um, these mini apple pies were AMAZING (they also have made peach and berry pies from farmers' market fruit)! The crust was perfectly moist and flaky, and they were just so delicious. If he does end up offering them at his restaurant, there will be people coming in just for these pies. They were that good!

Dave has transitioned to a vegetarian diet himself, so he plans to offer vegetarian versions of all of his salads (with the option of adding protein, including tofu). It also sounds like he will have three varieties of soup daily, with the minestrone always being a staple. Although Dave isn't sure if the Kickstarter will end up providing the funds he needs (because he is trying to raise such a large sum of money and it is on a short time frame), he is committed to trying to find a way to make his dream come true to open the salad bistro. Based on the dinner that we experienced, I believe that this restaurant will be a great one! I can't wait until it opens and I can try all of the salads (and the Happy Hour menu he has promised!)

To find out more or get in touch with Dave, here is his contact information:

Twitter: @FarmersRevival
Facebook: Facebook
Kickstarter: Kickstarter


Monday, August 05, 2013

Portello Winecafe - Bend, Oregon

2754 NW Crossing Drive
Bend, Oregon
Happy Hour: 4 - 6 PM, Tuesday through Friday

The Portello Winecafe makes me want to open my own business. It is ridiculously charming, they offer all sorts of discounts on food and wine, and they have a full calendar of events including live local musicians every Saturday night. Happy Hour is offered from 4 to 6 Tuesday through Friday but if you mistakenly walk in the door on a Monday you will not be disappointed. On Mondays, Portello pours wine by the glass for just $5 between four and nine. I find all of those discounts to be awfully inviting.

There were four of us in Bend for a conference last week and we did our best to hit up as many happy hours as possible. Portello was one of my favorites and one that I will remember when I am back in the area again. They offer all sorts of great snacks and discounts on wine (red, white, and bubbles).

I was distracted by the racks of wine available but chose to stick with the happy hour pricing and ordered a glass of the special red. Five dollars is a pretty fair price for a glass of wine during happy hour. Some might say that it's not really much of a discount but when comparing quantities, I'd say that this one was in good standing.

With four of us eating, it was easy to share plates and taste a lot of what the kitchen had to offer. I didn't have any bites of the meatballs (of course!) but understand that they were more than delectable. The salami--that came as one of the choices when ordering the Portello Board--was also a big hit.

I gave most of my attention to the Crostini. It was topped with roasted butternut squash and chevre, just a drop or two of maple syrup, and some chopped pecans. The combination was perfect and is something that I might just try to replicate during the fall.

The fresh Caprese Stack was also a popular item at the table. It's one of my favorite things to order (or make at home) this time of year as tomatoes are finally starting to ripen.

The Portello Board seems to be an easy fix whenever you are in the winecafe, whether it's happy hour or not. The two-item plate is available for five dollars during happy hour but you can upgrade to a larger quantity. There is a long list of meats and cheeses that I assume change over time. The combinations are yours to choose and are all served with toasted baguette and a mix of olives.

All of the great deals on both food and drink were made better by the outstanding service provided at Portello. The servers are quick to greet all customers, came with an offering of bright green Castelvetrano olives to munch on while we perused the menu, and answered all of my questions (which usually add up quickly). I was impressed from start to finish.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Meets


Portello Wine Cafe on Urbanspoon