Club D&D Bar and Grill, or more affectionately, "The D," is a playground for both celebration and self-destructive tendencies. The drinks are stiff. The food worships at the altar of protein and massive proportions.
The D features charming juxtapositions like wall-to-wall oversized flat-screen televisions looming over what must be one of the last remaining cigarette machines in town; the antiquated and the present. The tables are each adorned with pink cloth napkins, a vase of sunflowers, Keno cards, and a small American flag. The "Minors Allowed" sign is surrounded by coloring book pages, with images of Sponge Bob Squarepants, Pokemon and the Easter bunny.
The menu at The D reflects the unapologetic, yet amiable character of a place that dates back to 1943. As of late, this notable Bend landmark has made a few changes. Not only has the staff swapped blue jeans for dress pants, but a few new items have been added to the menu like the Lava Burger and The Cardio Burger, both marketed as more of a dare than an economical approach to satiating hunger.
I visited The D last week to try the new Cardio Burger. Its paper advertiser reads: D n' D Presents: "The Cardio Burger" Hamburger Patty, Sausage Patty, Bacon, Ham, Fried Egg, American, Cheddar, Swiss and Pepper Jack Cheese, Sauce, with NO veggies All on a Bun for only $11.95. There is the warning at the bottom of the sheet: "This burger is not endorsed by the American Heart Association or PETA."
What drives a person to eat this tower of protein? It most likely has something to do with gluttony or carnivorous machismo. This kind of food is about the challenge. Or as one dining companion put it, it's about using stomach muscles that you forgot you had.
I chose my two dining companions that evening - one leather-clad, one be-spectacled - for their credentials: voracious consumers of meat, artful approaches to primal binges, and familiarity with Bend's best tavern fare. These two sweat bacon fat. Their vernacular sometimes bears a likeness to that of the customers at the truck stop diner where I waitressed, asking customers, "And how would you like that cooked?" To which they would often respond, "I want to hear the damn thing moo."
Naturally, dinner table conversation revolved around meat and overindulgence.
"Have either of you ever been in an eating contest, even an informal one?" I asked. "Dining in the company of men is always an informal eating contest," one quickly replied swirling his glass of bourbon.
The D's slogan does not lie; this is "Down home cookin'." I'm ashamed to admit that I failed to finish my half of The Cardio Burger despite pressure from my dining companions: "You need to just finish it all in one bite; it's like shot-gunning a beer, but it's meat and salt instead."
Group consensus was that this burger is best consumed in that desperate state of inebriated fits of hunger. A drink recommendation from the two power-eating aficionados?
"Hamburger Shot. Three of them in a row, then you have the Cardio Burger to soak it all up. It's a shot of pickle juice, a shot of V8, a shot of tequila." In the spirit of gluttony we had whiskey with dinner, upgraded our side order to hash browns and sausage gravy, and had Jell-O shots for dessert.
I asked my dining companions how they were feeling.
"Um, I feel full, kind of sleepy, like I need to take a nap," answered one. He was definitely altered, but generally unscathed.