Considering the near-zero level of my checking account when I first rolled into Bend Oregon over seven years ago, it’s no wonder this past Wednesday evening was the first time I ever set foot into the best restaurant in Bend Oregon, Ariana.
That’s not to say I don’t enjoy a really good meal (pricey or not), or that I don’t like getting gussied up either. Because in fact I do enjoy and appreciate both of these things, even if there’s no particular occasion for the latter. Silver glitter heels and a slinky black thing to a lawn party at Crux? Yes, please. It’s like a good friend of mine always said, after we’d finished a day of sweating through our snowboarding clothes: from backcountry to ballroom. Hell YAS, sister.
Back to the best Bend, OR restaurant around, Ariana.
Two Reasons Why Ariana Is The Best Restaurant In Bend Oregon
Over the years, the ol’ checking account has seen fluctuations akin to my PMS-ing hormones. I’m not joking when I say it’s nothing short of a small miracle that the account’s general trend has been a pokily upward one.
This year I finally felt semi-OK about dropping some $ bills on Ariana. As did my husband, who booked ahead for us (at least two weeks, people!) and with whom I went this past Wednesday evening. It was every bit of wonderful I hadn’t expected it to be. Here’s why:
- I thought the Ariana experience was going to be stuffy, and it wasn’t stuffy. OK there were crisp white tablecloths, but the space felt intimate and our server made us feel like welcomed human beings.
- I had prepared myself to have to order like a salad without the croutons because nothing on the menu would be gluten-free. Hello, almost everything on the menu was gluten-free! When our server told us I was all for real? Yes for real, because the chefs/owners of Ariana (maybe one or both of them) are GF. If you haven’t eaten GF things before, I’ll tell you now that they usually taste like shit. You just pretend to like them because everyone else is eating the best pizza of their lives and you don’t want to rain on their goddamned glutenous pizza parade. And if you’re not Celiac, you then proceed to slide semi-cold sheaths of cheese pocked with hardened Kalamatas and mushroom slivers off some leftover slices and call it good. But at Ariana things are different. Starting with the house-made bread sans glutén (there’s also glutenous bread) and continuing with every dish throughout the rest of our 5-course meal, my palate was thoroughly blown away.
Bonus Raves for Ariana Restaurant!
Our server’s name was Castle, and she was great at what she did and lovely. From wine and wine pairings, to food origins to the food itself, Castle knew her shit. I think maybe this is how it works at classier joints, like people don’t look at you blankly when you ask them what’s in the soup du jour. I’m not entirely sure, but that’s what I’m starting to ascertain. Still, these encyclopedic and eloquent explanations of what you’re about to eat are quite novel. I like them. And I like CASTLE too.
I thought I’d be fond of some of the dishes and not really love any of them. Turns out I/we loved every fucking thing I/we ate or drank or smelled inside the small craftsman style home that is Ariana. Before arriving I had assumed it would be pretty darn good, but as soon as I read about our incoming dishes I realized “good” wouldn’t cut it. And, thankfully, it didn’t.
Classy Bend Restaurants & Julia Roberts
I have to admit, going to nicer restaurants is something that traditionally makes me feel… out of place. In fact going to nicer anything makes me feel like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. My husband pointed this out, and he’s right. No, I wasn’t formerly a prostitute and I definitely don’t look like Julia. I do, however, mirror her dinner scene sentiments. I wouldn’t say I feel embarrassed, because I love my thick, loud, tenement roots, but I do tend to feel like I’m under the magnifying glass in classier situations. Perhaps mostly my own projection, but hey. What I always seem to come back to when Julia-ing are these three things: I like who I am and where I come from, it’s all an experiment in social economics and, fuck it, everyone poops.
Local Restaurant Ariana Brings The Boom With Seasonal Chef’s Tasting Menu
Feeling slightly less awkward at Ariana, but no less Julia by the minute, I eventually ordered a Latin Temptation cocktail. LT was a mingle of maracuya (passion fruit), tequila, lime, habanero, and maybe guava. And it was delicious.
I didn’t pay the standard Ariana menu much attention, though I’m sure it’s smashing. My husband and I were too focused on their seasonally-inspired chef’s tasting menu, which turned out to be the fucking jackpot. I’ll include a photo below of the five courses of amazing that we consumed over the three or so hours we hung out at Ariana.
There are a lot of Bend Oregon restaurants, and definitely some kickass Bend food carts some new and some just popping up, but not many of this caliber. Ariana doesn’t fuck around, folks. This local restaurant is on a different level. When you go, cross your fingers you get Castle. And know that it’ll definitely be one of those times when you want to eat slowly, so you can taste every bite as it unfolds inside your mouth. Because the way Ariana marries nourishment with simple, juxtaposing flavors is a most beautiful thing.
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