Piling it High at Volo.Ah, downtown Bend, the heart of Central Oregon. Its quaint small town look mixes with urban sidewalk urban appeal;. There are even "lofts" (note: not apartments) to promote downtown luxury living, which is a far cry from the days in which the only folks who lived downtown were those who needed to be in walking distance of the nearest bar.
Volo is the new and hip thing (albeit lesser known) and its opening carried almost as much hype as the opening of Deep. Dressed in black, grey and white the interior of Volo is a combo of modern and '80s retro, recalling a time when stark color contrasts were a la mode.
The room is artfully carved into three sections by grand metal sculptures. The bar, which has the most jubilant atmosphere of the restaurant, is staffed with ridiculously good-looking people attentively serving house drinks like the Purple Haze, Glacier Ice Cosmo and Roses are Red to well-heeled clientele soaking up the see-and-be-seen ambiance.
The din subsides in the dining rooms where the middle section borrows the bar's festive atmosphere and the far room is creatively padded and carpeted to absorb the loudest of the revelries. The food, in owner Chris Jones' words, is described as "urban cool," and ranges from Italian inspired items like the Fava Bean Agnolotti and the Potato Gnocchi, to items more familiar to the Pacific Northwest such as Pan Roasted King Salmon and the Grilled Flat Iron steak.
The dining room service is friendly, attentive and attractive. There are runners, bussers, waiters and a very knowledgeable and creative sommelier who will come up with pairings guaranteed to astonish and delight. To our surprise, our server admitted to not having tried the item we were asking about. In a restaurant of Volo's level, this needs to be remedied.
To start, the Chilled Spring Pea Soup will complement any meal with its bevy of textures and a wonderful blending of the sweetness of peas and prawns with the tartness of preserved lemons. The Pan Roasted Sweet Breads were heaven on a plate, delicately accented with pickled rhubarb, crisp bacon, tender spaetzle and a cool basil coulis.
For his entrée, one of my dining partners got the Oregonzola Crusted Filet and announced that it was the best steak he's had in Central Oregon. The graceful presentation of a light, aerated crust of Rouge Creamery's Gorgonzola cheese atop the thick medium rare, fork-tender filet mignon was definitely one of many highlights of the meal. The Pan Roasted Free Range Chicken Breast is absolutely deliciously served on herbed bread, it conjures the much-loved tastes of Thanksgiving. The Diver Scallops are perfectly unctuous and rich, and served on a creamy caramelized fennel risotto with a tomato compote and topped with a pungent saffron emulsion.
From the super slick, Flash-infused website to the beautifully presented food, Volo is a dining experience comparable to those big city spots at which it takes six months to get a reservation.
919 Bond St., 749-2460, www.volobend.com. Mon-Sat 5pm-close