I know it makes me sound like a lush to say this, but I spend a lot of time in brew pubs.
It’s part of my job marketing the breweries along the Bend Ale Trail, and it’s a task I embrace willingly. That said, there are certain brew pubs I’m particularly thrilled to visit.
Such was the case when the Visit Bend team was invited to dine at Old Mill Brew Wërks two weeks ago. I actually had the pleasure of visiting a week before for a special event, so I already knew I was in for a treat. When our server brought out a plate piled high with risotto cakes, I leapt to my feet, seized my fork in a menacing grip, and screamed, “back off, jerks, these babies are mine!”
OK, maybe I just thought that. Seriously, the risotto cakes are worth a little bloodshed. Stuffed with goat cheese and finished with a basil pesto cream sauce and balsamic reduction, these are the perfect texture of crunchy and blissfully squishy. They don’t scrimp on the sauce, either, and you can score them for only $5 during happy hour (3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday).
Another menu item I’d been hearing about from fellow pub-crawlers is the scotch egg. I was thrilled when the server brought it to our table, and even more thrilled it lived up to the hype. The scotch egg is a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage rolled in bread crumbs. It’s baked and then flash-fried, served with house-made mashed potatoes and Irreverence IPA Mustard. It is seriously one of the tastiest pieces of pub food I’ve ever put in my mouth, and I swooned each time I took a bite.
Our server kept bringing us goodies, and we devoured everything like ravenous dogs. Er, I don’t mean they brought us ravenous dogs to eat (though given the chef’s obvious talent, I’m certain he would have done a lovely job preparing the meat). What we did get was an amazing serving of prosciutto-wrapped scallops, a stuffed chicken breast with a divine roasted red pepper and goat cheese cream sauce, and a scrumptious polenta with bleu cheese and roasted red pepper, topped with tomato and basil white wine sauce. Yum, yum, and again, YUM.
Obviously, I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about the beer. We were able to sample all the brews created by Brew Wërks Brewing, which includes their Audacious Amber Ale, the Schizophrenic Stout, the Rabble-Rouser Imperial Red Ale, the Neurotic Blonde Ale, and the Irreverence IPA.
I’m normally a big fan of IPA, and the Irreverence is widely regarded as one of Bend’s best IPAs. I don’t disagree, but I’m actually a bigger fan of the Rabble-Rouser Imperial Red, which is bold and punchy and especially delicious when paired with the risotto cakes.
Whenever the Visit Bend crew does one of these dine-around events, everyone completes a questionnaire about the experience. I often skim them when I’m writing the blog post, and I laughed out loud at this comment:
“Wonderful – I want to marry the chef!”
While I don’t know the marital status of Chef Rudy (who has deservedly been featured on Rachel Ray and LA Times Food) but perhaps he should consider this a group proposal? Count me in, as long as he’s catering our wedding.