A New Downtown Jewel: Joolz adds a little variety to the scene | Chow | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Coverage for Central Oregon, by Central Oregonians.
100% Local. No Paywalls.

Every day, the Source publishes a mix of locally reported stories on our website, keeping you up to date on developments in news, food, music and the arts. We’re committed to covering this city where we live, this city that we love, and we hear regularly from readers who appreciate our ability to put breaking news in context.

The Source has been a free publication for its 22 years. It has been free as a print version and continued that way when we began to publish online, on social media and through our newsletters.

But, as most of our readers know, times are different for local journalism. Tech giants are hoovering up small businesses and small-business advertising—which has been the staple for locally owned media. Without these resources, journalism struggles to bring coverage of community news, arts and entertainment that social media cannot deliver.

Please consider becoming a supporter of locally owned journalism through our Source Insider program. Learn more about our program’s benefits by clicking through today.

Support Us Here

Food & Drink » Chow

A New Downtown Jewel: Joolz adds a little variety to the scene

Hummus, check, kebabs, check, spirit apparition server, check. With the corpse of Bistro Corlise still warm, and its cherished memory fresh in my mind,


Hummus, check, kebabs, check, spirit apparition server, check. With the corpse of Bistro Corlise still warm, and its cherished memory fresh in my mind, I figured I'd instantly and probably unfairly compare, contrast and ultimately find fault with whatever took its place. That was before I heard about Joolz. The latest from Ramsey and Juli Hamdan, owners of the Jackalope Grill until 2005 and more recently Barking Squirrel Kitchen and Catering, Joolz couldn't be further from the classic French cuisine of its predecessor. The menu, tagged "Where Mezze Meets the Mesa," features traditional Middle Eastern flavors and recipes (Ramsey is of Lebanese extraction) with Southwestern accents and a nod to local ingredients and preparations. Being a recovering big city gal, constantly craving the many and varied ethnic foods of my former life, they had me at halloumi-and hummus and kafta and kebabs.

The room, while largely retaining the layout and the core fixtures from the old space, has been thoroughly beJoolzed with assorted pieces of Middle Eastern flare like hanging metal lamps, hookas, camels and bright shocks of cloth to complement the orange and brown drapery. Mesa touches, most notably a series of stylized mounted horns from various ungulates, are interspersed in keeping with the concept. The result is a comfortable, festive dining room with great lighting and a large and lively bar area that's ripe for the happy hour scheduled to begin in the next week or so.

The menu is faithful to the mezze theme with a long list of small plates and an interesting cocktail menu (try the Scarlet Mary-as they'll tell you, the not-so-secret secret ingredient is steak sauce), but also offers several salads and entrees, both Middle Eastern and Americanized, for those who prefer a more conventional meal. Prices are very reasonable across the board, making Joolz a great option for anything from a drink and a snack to a feast. Among the mezze, my favorite was the Oven Roasted Cauliflower ($6). A dish that I've had many times before, the Joolz version avoided the usual pitfalls of being too greasy, soggy or bland. The lemon tahini sauce that accompanied it was absolutely perfect. A close second was the Hummus on the Range ($11), a classic, well-executed hummus topped with chunks of elk meat, pan-seared with garlic, lemon, sumac and parsley served with triangles of fresh, toasted pita. The only slight disappointment was the kafta meatballs ($8), made with ground beef, parsley and garlic in a Mediterranean tomato sauce. Just a hair overcooked and a dash under-seasoned, they may have escaped criticism were it not for the quality of everything else.

Entrees range from a $10 burger to a $27 rib-eye steak, but most come in closer to the lower end. The falafel ($10) served with tahini, pita and Armenian pickles had a good, traditional flavor and was crisp and light. Mixed Seafood Cazuela ($24), a stew of prawns, fish, clams, mussels and fingerling potatoes simmered in a spiced tomato broth and gremolata was perfect for sharing and quickly devoured by my table, as was the lamb kebab ($16), marinated in herbs, pomegranate and garlic. I also highly recommend the Chermoula seasonal fish, which was halibut in my case, spice rubbed and oven roasted served with braised swiss chard and rice pilaf with a tomato-based sauce that was so good I could have used double the amount.

As much as it came in the wake of the untimely demise of one of my most beloved spots, Joolz couldn't be a more welcome addition to the downtown dining scene. I fully intend to become a regular. Now if someone would just open a Korean restaurant, I might never go back to the big city again.

916 NW Wall St., 388-5094 Dinner daily, 5 p.m.-close (lunch and happy hour coming soon)

About The Author

Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

Add a comment

More by Alice Finer

  • Repeat Offender: Central Oregon's bad-boy Top Chef defends his title

    Kokanee Cafe's Roscoe Roberson takes home the top honors again at this Bite of Bend
    • Jun 30, 2010
  • Little Bites: Repeat Offender: Central Oregon's bad-boy Top Chef defends his title

    Another Top Chef Competition at Bite of Bend has come and gone, leaving delicious memories in its wake (and for us judges the residual heartburn and sunburn that go along with them!).
    • Jun 30, 2010
  • Après Ski Pub Crawl! - Eat and drink your way down the mountain for a song

    There are pros and cons to situating a ski resort on National Forest land, but one of the biggest cons for Mt. Bachelor - that last call for food and alcohol coincides with the last chair at around 4 p.m. - can also be a huge pro. Since après ski up top lasts only a few minutes, local businesses all the way down the mountain and into town roll out some excellent happy hour options to lure in passers-by looking for post-play refreshments. Whether you're a vacationer or a local, a hungry winter sportsman or simply a bargain hunting day-drinker looking for a deal, there's après ski merriment to be found around every corner. Set yourself up with an appetite and a designated driver and embark on your very own après pub-crawl down the hill - a must for any winter in Bend. Here's one possible route, in geographical order:
    • Dec 30, 2009
  • More »