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Supper Club Brings Social Dining

Food delivery service turns into brick-and-mortar in the Old Mill

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Behind Jimmy John's in the Old Mill, where Barre 3 used to be, is a new restaurant, Boxwood Kitchen & Supper Club. If the name sounds familiar it's because you may have ordered from the delivery service, or may have seen the boxed salads and vegetarian entrees at Market of Choice and Newport Market. The company, started by Rian Welch and Eric Rud two years ago, has evolved into Boxwood Kitchen & Supper Club, a modern take on the classic supper club. "We want to make good food with interesting flavors," said Welch, "and have something for everyone." Welch has a background in marketing and Rud is a chef and serial entrepreneur in the food industry, with food truck and restaurant experience.

The appetizers, sweet and sour Korean chicken bitz and crispy, sweet brussels sprouts, were so delicious I didn't want to share. - LISA SIPE
  • Lisa Sipe
  • The appetizers, sweet and sour Korean chicken bitz and crispy, sweet brussels sprouts, were so delicious I didn't want to share.

What is a supper club?

It can be a traditional restaurant serving as a social club where people meet around a common interest. Typically, supper clubs have a posh image even if their prices are accessible. In modern terms, a supper club can refer to underground restaurants: pop-up restaurants, guestaurants, speakeasies, guerrilla restaurants and home bistros. Boxwood Kitchen is the latter. They focus on comfort, and a great environment to eat with family and friends. If "supper club" wasn't on the exterior signage there are no interior clues as to what makes the restaurant a supper club. They play a movie without sound or subtitles above the bar—unique to Bend, but the same concept is at Bollywood Theater, an Indian restaurant, in Portland.

The restaurant interior is large and airy with plenty of space between tables. Open for lunch, dinner and brunch on the weekends, the menu is New American with plenty of comfort food options. I dined with a few friends for brunch. One was gluten free, and while she had some menu options, we had to ask the waitress what they were. If the menu indicated which dishes were gluten free or vegetarian it would be much easier for folks with dietary restrictions.

We started with a few cocktails and apps, including the Gompers gimlet and scratch bloody, brussels sprouts and Korean fried chicken bitz. Both appetizers were cooked perfectly. The fried brussels sprouts with sesame and lime were crispy and a little sweet. I could have eaten the entire bowl myself. I just loved those crispy leaves. The boneless chicken bitz came with airy, white shrimp chips and pickled daikon. The chips gave a nice crunch to the soft chicken and the daikon balanced out the sweetness of the Korean barbecue sauce.

For the main course a friend and I shared the Wagyu beef burger and the fried chicken sandwich. Wagyu is a word meaning Japanese cow, tending to have more fat and marbling than typical beef. Those characteristics made the burger—topped with bacon jam, aged cheddar, chipotle aioli and arugula—super rich and tender. The fried chicken sandwich was lighter in comparison. The creamy poblano aioli, bright slaw and pickles balanced the richness of the tender fried chicken. With a choice between salad and fries as a side, we chose the salad, which included a mound of dressed arugula. The unassuming, simple salad was packed with flavor—a surprise considering most salads served with a sandwich feel like an afterthought.

The scratch bloody and the Gompers gimlet were easy-to-drink, balanced cocktails. - LISA SIPE
  • Lisa Sipe
  • The scratch bloody and the Gompers gimlet were easy-to-drink, balanced cocktails.

My gluten-free friend ordered the pork and beans minus the tortilla. Her plate had chunks of braised pork shoulder topped with pickled red onion and salsa verde with a side of poached eggs, black beans and an arugula salad. The pork was fall-apart tender; the black beans creamy from a light cheese sauce. We all agreed the food was delicious.

If we had one complaint, it was that the space was dark even though we dined midday. Welch said they want Boxwood to be "a comfortable neighborhood place where you have a fun experience." They didn't intend for the restaurant to be quiet and romantic, but the dark lighting gave it a bit of that vibe.

Welch told me Boxwood Kitchen has a reverse happy hour starting at 8 pm every night with a $6 menu and those movies projected on the wall. It's a great deal, considering the lunch sandwiches range from $14 to $16, and dinner mains are $16 to $26. If you visit for dinner, save room for dessert; their sweets are from the ever-delicious Foxtail Bakeshop.

The Old Mill can sometimes seem dominated by chains, even though it actually has a few local restaurants. In a town that likes to support local, it's nice to have Boxwood Kitchen as another hometown option.

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