To state how The Phoenix rises from the ashes in rejuvenation and rebirth would be obvious, but what isn't so obvious to many in Bend is that The Phoenix Café has reopened as The Phoenix in the old Kayo's Roadhouse location.
With the moniker, "A Restaurant for Everyone," The new Phoenix menu sets no boundaries of regional flavor, blending elements of American steakhouse, Thai fusion and California cuisine. With dark, private banquette seating and dim lighting, the space is conducive to intimate dining despite high-volume traffic. The wait staff is attractive and well trained - the sort of people I want to be serving my food.
For lunch, I chose the tuna salad on rye that took an extra minute because it was made to order, according to the waitress. Meanwhile, my friend's order arrived, a tasty Herb Roasted Chicken Sandwich piled high on focaccia. The chicken was tender and juicy and the sauce was robust. Perhaps this set my expectations too high. When my tuna salad arrived, I was served rye bread that wasn't very fresh. An easy trick for less than stellar bread: toast it. The tuna salad was simple, the hue of mayo with little else happening with regard to flavor. The coleslaw was equally bland, but the stack of sandwich fixings brought color to the plate. The pickle, side of lettuce, one slice of tomato (for two halves of a sandwich?) and rounds of red onion improved the dish. My friend and I both chose soups to pair with our sandwiches, a good cup of Crab Bisque and a Tomato-Basil that would've made an excellent dip for a Brick-oven baked something (but more on this later).
The Phoenix bar, offset from the dining room, is great for Eastsiders who prefer a lively atmosphere. The spacious bar stretches across two rooms with flat screen TVs. My friends joined me for drinks, food, and a game. We shared Brick Oven Baked Spinach-Artichoke Dip ($8.95), Crispy Fried Chicken Wings ($8.95), Phoenix Salad ($9), and fish and chips ($10.95). We were satisfied with the service, presentation and portions. The wings could have been meatier, but the presentation impressed us, whereas the spinach-artichoke dip fell short. The presence of herbs or the flavor of chicken broth would have added much-needed flavor.
While the clientele is mostly senior citizens, they too deserve to eat well-seasoned food. The "Brick Oven" element of the dip eluded me; perhaps there should have been some browning on the top of the cheese. Brick oven bread triangles from the restaurant's visible brick oven, instead of tortilla chips, would have made the dish even more unique. The salad, with avocado and corn, was fresh and the portion was good, although the bacon was so crisp that I kept thinking I'd bitten into a small pebble. Props to the fish and chips, the cod was crispy on the outside and buttery inside.
At each visit, I expected some sort of house-made flatbread from the brick oven. A quesadilla and a meatball sub are both cooked in the brick oven, but there is untapped potential.
The Phoenix exhibits elements of success - ambience, friendly staff, and an expansive menu - and while there may well be an item for everyone, each requires greater attention to flavor and texture. Adding an Italian flatbread element to the menu would utilize the brick oven and further expand Chef Curtis Whitticar's vast menu offerings. Small tweaks to this already successful establishment will make "A Restaurant for Everyone" the restaurant for everyone to enjoy.
594 NE Bellevue Drive
Sun. 9am- close