The Jackalope Grill: Northwestern cuisine that's haute but never haughty | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Food & Drink » Chow

The Jackalope Grill: Northwestern cuisine that's haute but never haughty


Elk medallions and blackberries, Jackalope style. Although the Jackalope Grill has been open a little more than three years, there's something very enduring and lived-in about it. You'll find no scene or gimmicks here. You can expect the old standards in the background to be playing at low volume, the crowd to be civilized, and the service to be professional and knowledgeable.

It's hardly the first day on the job for the husband-and-wife team who own it. Kathy Garling, the front of the house, has been working in the industry for over 25 years and Chef Tim Garling has been in the kitchen for over 20. Focusing on fresh, locally produced ingredients whenever possible, the menu is largely a high-minded take on meat and potatoes. And with Garling's classical training in French cuisine coupled with his attention to the flavors of the Pacific Northwest, it makes sense.

The décor is white-tablecloth, but eclectic with a homey feel and a sense of fun. While not overly upscale, the room succeeds in masking its strip mall location and transporting diners to a warm, friendly place where the food is dependably high quality, the wine list is extensive and well-thought-out with many less-expensive options, and the overall dining experience is infused with the affection that the owners very obviously have for their life's work.

Starters ($10-$15) like fresh steamer clams in garlic-tarragon broth and grilled prawns with black beans and a mixed chili sauce sound appealing. But I'd have trouble passing up the award-winning Dungeness Crab Stuffed Mushrooms in garlic butter. They were piping hot, and the seasoning perfectly complemented the flavor of the crab. The Crisp Bib Lettuce salad ($9) was refreshing, and the green goddess dressing was creamy and flavorful but not too heavy. Even the accompanying crouton, a garnish I often ignore, was superb. Far from your average crouton, it was a fresh hunk of bread baked with whole pieces of roasted garlic. Not a crumb was left on the plate.

The relatively short list of main courses ($23-$30) offers only a couple of options that aren't red meat, including mixed seafood pasta with a tomato, white wine, and fresh basil sauce and alder-smoked salmon with a honey-lime chipotle glaze, grapefruit, and rice pilaf. Vegetarians are pretty much out of luck. Fortunately, I'm not one. There are two steak options, rack of lamb, pork tenderloin, or the cheapest option, the Jackalope Kobe beef burger ($15). However, being of Eastern European ancestry, there was no hesitation in ordering the schnitzel. A massive portion of breaded pork cutlet smothered in creamy mushroom gravy and served with string beans, braised red cabbage and a potato pancake with applesauce was like a dream come true for someone of my extraction. Another winner was a special entrée one night but available as an appetizer on the regular menu, medallions of elk in a red wine sauce served with truffle mashed potatoes and sautéed vegetables garnished with plump blackberries. It was a perfect embodiment of Garling's palate.

I really would have loved to follow that elk with a mousse, but no one seems to serve mousse anymore. Fortunately, its relative and latter-day favorite on the dessert menu, chocolate pot du crème, was among the options ($7). An unsolicited visit to our table by Chef Garling to inquire how our meal was, followed by glass of port on the house, confirmed what critics and regulars have been saying since Jackalope Grill opened its doors. It's fine dining without pretention, served with a personal touch.

The Jackalope Grill

1245 SE 3rd St. (in the Scandia Plaza), 318-8435. Tues.-Sat., 5 p.m. to close

About The Author

Comments (8)

Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

Add a comment

More by Alice Finer

  • Repeat Offender: Central Oregon's bad-boy Top Chef defends his title

    Kokanee Cafe's Roscoe Roberson takes home the top honors again at this Bite of Bend
    • Jun 30, 2010
  • Little Bites: Repeat Offender: Central Oregon's bad-boy Top Chef defends his title

    Another Top Chef Competition at Bite of Bend has come and gone, leaving delicious memories in its wake (and for us judges the residual heartburn and sunburn that go along with them!).
    • Jun 30, 2010
  • Après Ski Pub Crawl! - Eat and drink your way down the mountain for a song

    There are pros and cons to situating a ski resort on National Forest land, but one of the biggest cons for Mt. Bachelor - that last call for food and alcohol coincides with the last chair at around 4 p.m. - can also be a huge pro. Since après ski up top lasts only a few minutes, local businesses all the way down the mountain and into town roll out some excellent happy hour options to lure in passers-by looking for post-play refreshments. Whether you're a vacationer or a local, a hungry winter sportsman or simply a bargain hunting day-drinker looking for a deal, there's après ski merriment to be found around every corner. Set yourself up with an appetite and a designated driver and embark on your very own après pub-crawl down the hill - a must for any winter in Bend. Here's one possible route, in geographical order:
    • Dec 30, 2009
  • More »