The last time I dined at Scanlon’s, the Athletic Club of Bend’s fine dining venue, I left feeling the paradox many of us feel when we dine out. One side left me feeling rich with big flavors, heavy sauces and decadent desserts while certainly lightening my wallet more than I hoped or expected. But following a brief closure of the restaurant, Scanlon’s made some other fundamental changes in the kitchen and across the entire menu. Now, Scanlon’s is no longer that paradox, but a promise of light, health-conscious, flavorful food at fair prices.
“We just realized that most of our customers are members of the club and want healthier choices,” our server explained as we discussed the recent change in direction with the menu. With a menu “designed to fit a healthy lifestyle,” the menu offers calories, fat, fiber, carbs and protein counts for every dish. While this reminded me of the episode of Seinfeld in which the cast gets fat from “nonfat yogurt,” I immediately got wrapped up in learning the exact calorie counts of every item on the menu. As we scanned the menu, I was impressed by the variety of healthy options with nods to Mediterranean and Asian fare. Locally sourced pears, greens and meats made up for the absence of avocado on the menu.
Happy hour starts at 3:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday. We managed to get a table on the covered patio at 5:30 p.m. on a Friday afternoon and ordered drinks and a few choices from the appetizer menu that are reduced a couple bucks for happy hour. The Cadillac margaritas ($6) were delicious, balanced and very cold. With signature cocktails, a generous list of bottled beers and a wine list that features 20 wines for $20 or under, Scanlon’s appears to have adjusted and matured with the times, offering ample choices and value to members and non-members alike.
Our meal began with a few starter plates. The new Caesar ($5/8) was “new” because the light, flavorful Caesar vinaigrette tasted just like classic Caesar dressing but without all the fat. We appreciated the commitment to health without sacrificing flavor throughout the menu. The tuna carpaccio ($8) was delicious and fresh but not properly named. This was more of a tuna loin rubbed in togarashi (Japanese spice made in house), seared and sliced thin, but not nearly as paper thin as carpaccio is meant to be.
We all know the feeling of eating something seemingly healthy only to be shocked by how many calories you’ve just consumed, but Scanlon’s menu does just the opposite. Our Hood River pear flatbread ($12) with hazelnut, rosemary, Riesling honey and Oregonzola was a pleasant combination of Pacific Northwest flavors and a surprisingly healthy choice at only 6.3 grams of fat and 261 calories.
Proud of ourselves for eating well and finishing another busy workweek, we ordered a bottle of the 2009 Chablis by William Fevre ($30). Our excellent server, Phoebe, opened, poured and ice bucketed the wine with the finesse of a seasoned vet. Chablis is a French chardonnay typically less sweet than American varieties, and can be very refreshing as long as it’s kept cold. Phoebe chatted with us in a friendly, professional way while our next dish was being prepared.
Expecting sunshine in a bowl, I was disappointed by the golden gazpacho ($4/$6), a soup that allowed bell pepper skins to get in the way of underwhelming flavors. Had the vegetables been roasted and peeled instead of raw, the gazpacho would have tasted much better. Perhaps a revised version of that recipe should be tested.
We finished our savory meal by sharing the grilled salmon ($15) with romesco sauce, brown rice and jumbo asparagus. The salmon was perfectly cooked and had a nice char on it, the pilaf tasty and the asparagus properly peeled and not overcooked. My only criticism was the romesco sauce that had way too much finely pureed garlic, slightly bitter and very overpowering. Perhaps sacrificing a couple grams of fat and getting some more olive oil into some recipes here and there would act as a solid remedy.
Our meal ended with a delightful citrus semifreddo ($6). Light and intense with citrus zest, yogurt custard and whipped cream, we patted ourselves on the back for eating and drinking well, staying within budget and keeping it healthy. Of course, we had some help accomplishing this feat. The staff was professional, kind and knowledgeable. Even the chefs acknowledged us from the open kitchen as we walked past. You can tell that everyone is on board and Scanlon’s new menu is headed in the right direction.
At the Athletic Club of Bend, 61615 Athletic Club Dr.,
541-382-8769. Tues-Sat. 5-9pm. Sun. 9am-3pm.