- The Tumalo Jartini
The parking lot is filled most weekend nights with an assortment of large vehicles, many of them American-made trucks. Popular among rural Central Oregonians, this restaurant in the heart of Tumalo transports diners through time and space as soon as they enter the door. In the restaurant's foyer, a wood-burning stove, stuffed turkey and life-sized plaster cowboy are reminiscent of a Farrell's gone country.
Straight ahead is the western-style saloon, complete with swinging doors and live western music. A full range of alcoholic drinks are served here, including a list of their signature Jartinis - martinis served in a mason jar ready for you to pour into a martini glass. My favorite is the Manhattan - a generous pour of bourbon with sweet vermouth shaken over ice. Drinking bourbon at the Tumalo Feed Company just feels right to me, but purists can choose from a selection of several gin and vodka Jartinis.
The dining room at the Tumalo Feed Company can be simply described as large and red, with the floor and walls both drenched in red. The red-and-white checkered tablecloths let diners know without even looking at the menu that this is a place that serves, among other things, a hearty plate of ribs.
With the price of your entrée (from $14 to $27) at the Tumalo Feed Company, you get appetizers and sides - served family style - as well as a dessert or after-dinner liqueur. When I ate there recently, three of the four in our party ordered the Tumalo Style Steak. This is my favorite menu item at the Feed Company, and once my fiancée ordered it I knew I'd have plate envy if I got anything else. One of our dinner companions also followed suit, while the other ordered the Beef Ribs.
Soon after our dinner orders were placed, the appetizer - a basket of onion rings and a dish of salsa - was delivered by a cheery waitress wearing a short denim skirt and cowboy boots. The onion rings look and taste like any you'd get at a burger joint, but dipping them in salsa gives them a little extra kick.
Our waitress was friendly, prompt and attentive. Salads were served right after we finished munching on the onion rings. The salad - a bowl of iceberg lettuce, sliced beets and croutons - was saved from the doldrums by a Huckleberry Vinaigrette.
When our dinners arrived, side dishes of Feed Company Beans, Garlic Bread, and Ranch Fried Potatoes were served as well. I've always been a big fan of the beans and potatoes, especially the beans over the potatoes, but was disappointed this time that the potatoes did not appear to be freshly sautéed even though they were presented in a cast iron pan.
The Tumalo Style Steak, on the other hand, was down right badass. The eight-ounce top sirloin was perfectly cooked to a medium rare, and the broiled flavor of the meat paired perfectly with the creamy sauce Béarnaise spooned over the top. The two spears of asparagus arranged on top of the meat were slightly crisp and bright green in color. The scampi (shrimp) that complete this masterpiece were somewhat overcooked, but not enough to taint the overall experience of the delicious steak and sauce.
My friend who ordered the ribs lost his gamble on overcoming plate envy. But the bourbon and comfortable atmosphere prevailed, because our party was all smiles when our waitress reappeared to take our dessert or after-dinner drink order. Choosing between a Sarsaparilla Float, sherbet and various liquors may seem tough, but some people just naturally fall into a dessert or drink role. You can't go wrong either way.
The best part is when you get the check and find your dinner was just how much you thought it would be. Sometimes no surprise is a nice surprise.The Tumalo Feed Company Steak House & Saloon
64619 W. Highway 20, 382-2202
Mon - Sat. 5pm - close, Sun. 4pm-close