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Sip Gets Chic

New owner elevates neighborhood wine bar

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LISA SIPE
  • Lisa Sipe
I

 found myself at Sip Wine Bar a few weeks ago for a friend's birthday. I arrived a little after the party started and spotted the birthday girl laughing with everyone at a long table on the patio in front of a backdrop of black and white striped canvas curtains. The curtains were new; I noticed them go up a few months before.

My friends had already ordered shared plates, so I placed my wine order and picked up my utensils to dig into the charcuterie plate. The weight of the curvy gold fork surprised me; it was heavy and balanced in a way I only associate with high-end dining. Something felt different about this place. This was further confirmed when my Pinot Noir arrived in an elegant, long-stemmed, crystal wine glass with a modern square bowl.

Chelsea Whitaker. - LISA SIPE
  • Lisa Sipe
  • Chelsea Whitaker.

Sip has long been a great neighborhood wine bar that didn't necessarily stand out; now, it felt special. That's on account of Sip's new owner, Chelsea Whitaker.

She isn't new to the restaurant world, or to Sip. She used to be the manager of the Kokanee Cafe, the seasonal restaurant nestled amongst the pines in Camp Sherman, and also helped the original owners open Sip. Whitaker is putting her experience to good use. When she took over Sip in June, she collaborated with Chef Justin Brown, who also worked at the Kokanee Cafe, to revamp the menu.

LISA SIPE
  • Lisa Sipe
G

one are the paninis with kettle chips. Now, the menu is simple and seasonally driven, with cheese and charcuterie boards, appetizers, salads and flatbreads. My evening snack included a cheese board with house-made pickled vegetables, candied almonds, fresh grapes and strawberries, dried figs and Humboldt Fog and Brie and Havarti cheese with crostini. Brie is usually my favorite on a cheese board, but the tangy, earthy Humboldt Fog, a blue cheese injected with cream, was the standout here—especially combined with grapes and candied almonds. One suggestion for the cheese board: needs more crostini. Still, that issue isn't unique to Sip; I've never met a cheese board with the proper ratio of bread.

LISA SIPE
  • Lisa Sipe

I also sampled the steak crostini and a selection of flatbreads. The steak on my crostini was balanced with the sharp bite of garlic, nuttiness from the Parmesan, earthiness from sautéed mushrooms and herby richness from the pesto. It paired well with my Oregon Love Pinot Noir.

LISA SIPE
  • Lisa Sipe

The flatbread at Sip was the most memorable. The farmer's flatbread was rich and satisfying. The sautéed seasonal veggies and chicken sat atop a bright pesto covered in melted Havarti cheese. The flatbread itself was crisp but still had a little fluffiness inside. Where the farmer's flatbread was comfort food, the prosciutto pear flatbread was light, sweet and savory. I could taste the fresh pear, sweet and tangy balsamic vinaigrette, salty prosciutto, creamy goat cheese and spicy fresh arugula. It's obvious why the prosciutto pear is a menu favorite.

Sip's wine menu also received a little revamping, erring on the simpler side. The wines are organized by color or grape type in collections of three. For example, there are now three different Oregon Pinot Noirs. Order them by the glass or sip all three with a flight.

It will be exciting to see where Whitaker takes Sip. She tells me she's bringing in more live music, special packages for parties (including custom menus) and will soon revamp the interior to offer more seating and better noise absorption. Other plans include wine dinners, classes, an Italian food cart and a little store in the back shop.

I'll definitely be back again for a romantic date night or to hang out with my friends.

Sip Wine Bar

1366 NW Galveston Ave., Bend

SipWineBend.com

541-323-8466


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