In the summer months, it’s easy to feel drawn to restaurants with outside seating.
But sometimes you need a break from the great outdoors. Sometimes you don’t feel like battling persistent gnats or temperature fluctuations or gusts of wind determined to snatch your napkin off your lap.
Sometimes – and I hate to admit this because it’s so un-Bend – you don’t even want to see outside.
This is one of many intriguing perks of dining at 10 Below Restaurant & Lounge on the lower level of the swanky Oxford Hotel. As the name suggests, it’s below ground. That means no windows, and no views of the outside world. Don’t think this is a bad thing, though. On the contrary, it’s part of what lends the space its hip, otherworldly vibe. Eating at 10 Below, it’s easy to tune out distractions and just focus on the dining experience.
Which is excellent, I might add. I’m a huge fan of the happy hour here, which includes some pretty fabulous cocktails for just $5. I’ll admit I tend to be more of a wine snob than a cocktail connoisseur, and while 10 Below’s wine selection is top-notch, you won’t want to miss the chance to sample a creative cocktail here. I’m fond of the Mellow Yellow, which is made with marshmallow infused vodka, champagne syrup, and lemon sour. They also have a great selection of wine and beer.
Because 10 Below is committed to offering locally-sourced, organic ingredients, the menu tends to change a bit depending on the season or what’s available. One of the staples you absolutely DO NOT want to miss are the seared diver scallops with apple wood smoked bacon, mushroom pancakes, and pomegranate-molasses syrup. You can get them either as an appetizer or an entrée, but make sure you get them one way or another.
Often when I’m dining out, I shy away from pasta and rice entrees in favor of heartier fare like steak or fish. But 10 Below is one of the few places I’ll order risotto, simply because they do such a superb job with it. The selection changes constantly, depending on what’s seasonal, but if you see a risotto on the menu, make sure you snag some.
Don’t forget to save room for dessert, since 10 Below has some amazing ones. They’re widely regarded as having the best bread pudding in town, a claim I have to agree with based on stuffing my face with many varieties exhaustive scientific research. Theirs starts with house made brioche bread, diced and tossed with butter, sugar, and cinnamon. After the bread is toasted and dried in the oven, the brioche croutons are soaked in a warm vanilla custard and then steamed until the custard is set. Yum!
Lest you think 10 Below is just for dinner or happy hour, you should know they actually have some pretty fabulous lunch and breakfast options. Their 10-10-10 lunch special Monday through Friday offers a daily selection of four course lunch delivered to the table in just 10 minutes for $10. Though I haven’t sampled the BLT myself, Visit Bend Marketing Director Lynnette Braillard hasn’t stopped talking about it since she first ordered one a month ago. I’m a bit suspicious the sandwich was laced with something highly addictive, but I’m eager to try it myself.
For breakfast, consider the build-your-own omelet option, which offers some unique local ingredients including Tumalo classic goat cheese. The Oxford eggs Florentine with poached eggs, sautéed spinach, sauce choron, and a choice of thick cut bacon or vegetarian sausage is also worth a try.
Whichever meal you try or whichever beverage you sample, it’s worth giving 10 Below a shot during your Bend visit. I promise you won’t miss the great outdoors too much.