Two weekends ago, the in-laws were in town from Chicago, and as always happens, we went out to dinner (and lunch) every day they were here. Ordinarily this wouldn’t be much to write about, but while they were here ate out at three of the newer restaurants here in Bend: Zydeco, Mercury Diner and Anthony’s HomePort. I thought I’d post a mini-review of each.
I’ve only eaten here twice, my wife a handful of times, and already we agree it’s one of the best places to eat in Bend. (If not the best.) Everyone I’ve spoken to who has eaten there agrees. Great food, great service, great ambience. Surprisingly, they even turned out to be kid-friendly (our three and five year olds didn’t complain), even though you wouldn’t necessarily know it.
The two times I’ve been there, I had fish. The steelhead was great, the redfish was excellent. Everything on the menu looks good! Full range of cocktails, too; their signature drink is a blueberry martini. I had that the first time, it was good and a little different; they make their own blueberry syrup mix and after it sets for a few minutes it tends to settle to the bottle of the glass, so you need to stir it up. Fortunately that doesn’t really interfere with the enjoyment.
And dessert! The only one we’ve had their is the almond wet cake, probably the best (and most unique) dessert in Bend. It’s hard to describe; it’s like a pound cake that has been soaked in something like four different kinds of milk (they told us something similar to this the first time we had it), so it literally is wet. Yet fantastic. Try it.
The only drawback I could find for Zydeco is their location: they’re in the south part of Bend, on Third Street in the old Skippers building between Carrera Motors and Burger King. If you know that area of town (and that location specifically), you know that it’s not real convenient to get to and is not the place you’d expect for an upscale restaurant to be. Their traffic seems to be doing well so far, but if anything’s going to work against them I’d say it’s the location.
Speaking of unexpected locations, you’ll find the Mercury Diner in one at the intersection of College Way and Newport Avenue, nearly sharing a lot with a gas station. I like Mercury Diner quite a bit; my wife does not. It’s upscale dining in an almost ’50s diner atmosphere—much of the seating is in fact booths and for larger parties (six or more) they drag tables together to make room.
Still, they have good food (I haven’t had a bad meal there yet) and reasonable service. A good beer selection, too (I haven’t run into many places around here that have Sierra Nevada Pale Ale on tap). Much of the fare is southern in origin; the owners are originally from Texas, so you’ll tend to find spicier food and big portions.
I like the atmosphere, but it’s not really for big parties. We’ve always been there with six or more, and it gets crowded really quick like that. Even so, it’s worth it.
Just be sure to ask how spicy a dish is before you order it.
Literally brand new and located in the Old Mill District, this is probably one of the flashiest restaurants around (if the TVs above the urinals in the men’s room—among other things—are any indication). They are in a great location, on the river with great westerly views of the mountains (or they would have been great views, if it wasn’t winter and overcast), and the decor is extremely fancy. We had dinner upstairs, but a word of warning: it was very drafty. The entire area is open (it’s kind of like a loft), and the table we were at was directly in the airflow of the vents. I suspect sitting upstairs during the summer would be more enjoyable.
The food was very good, though. I had halibut with a sour cream sauce of some kind baked on top of it, very different and tasty. Everyone else’s meals looked good too. And, the menu is nearly entirely seafood, with only three or four steak dishes (rumor has it that there was a chicken special once), so if you don’t eat seafood (like my wife), you may want to avoid it.
Our waitress was a little daffy, I don’t know if she was having a rough night or we were just too big a group (eight of us) with some unusual food requests, or if it was just her. Maybe she was a little overwhelmed? Whatever, we’ve definitely had better service at other places, but it wasn’t bad enough to be a dealbreaker for me. Of course, I’m more tolerant than most people with restaurant service…
As I said, the decor is amazing and flashy. I found myself pausing on the stairs on my way to and from the restroom just to look around, particularly at the entirely open kitchen. I think this will definitely be a popular place because of this, their prime location in the Old Mill District and the views they’ll boast. On the other hand, being in the Old Mill means there’s extremely limited parking; be prepared to walk a few blocks to get there.
Overall, I’d try it again when the weather is nicer.