Playing hooky at the BlacksmithLet's be honest, the recession hasn't been any easier on Central Oregon's restaurants than it's been on our furniture businesses. We've lost some good, and some great, restaurants as our local industry contracts. If there's a silver lining for consumers, it's that every restaurant, from sports pubs to supper clubs, have slashed prices and drummed up deals intended to get even the most spendthrift customers through the doors. For most restaurants this has taken the form of new and/or expanded happy hours. Most of the action has been centered on fine-dining deals downtown, but there are plenty of other spots with killer deals for early birds. Here are a few of our favorites: Downtown there are plenty of options. The Blacksmith and Cork run great food and drink specials that put some of their more expensive entrees within the reach of the lunch sack crew. A less obvious, but equally attractive, option is the happy hour at the urban hip Astro Lounge where the retro-cool pigs in blanket and hush puppies can't be beat for nostalgia or flavor. If you're looking for something a little more casual and family oriented, head over to the Summit Saloon and grab a half-pound burger and fries for $6. Then knock back a $3 microbrew from Summit's extensive list of taps.
Of course a local happy hour round-up wouldn't be complete without a mention of Hong Kong Restaurant and its (in)famous Bamboo Room. The 3rd Street stalwart recently gave the back-of-the-house lounge a nice makeover. This is a no frills option for those who want their drinks stiff and their crowds thin. - Eric Flowers
What makes your favorite dish taste so good? Is it only the quality and freshness of the ingredients? Is it the presentation? Does the service and ambience affect your palette? I feel it takes multiple elements working in a symbiotic fashion to create a great experience, i.e.
Ryan Barnett, Fireside red
Barnett with Ariana's GnocchiAriana's Gnocchi and peas
Since the recent closure of Bistro Corlise, my regular dining spot, I was confused as to where to take my wife for a good dinner. Then I found Ariana and their wonderful gnocchi.