The Stihl Whiskey is one of my most favorite bars in Bend. It’s no secret that I love a well-made cocktail, and the newly opened Stihl delivers. I’m partial to the Kerouac on the cocktail menu: Cazadores tequila, agave syrup and fresh-squeezed lime juice. I know it’s a ‘whiskey’ bar – and yes they have a damn impressive list of whiskeys, bourbons, scotches and ryes – but sometimes I just don’t feel that macho. Luckily, they’re not whiskey snobs, so they have a full bar and a cocktail menu that includes a classic mint julep, a gin and vodka drink with Lillet Blanc (the ‘Vesper’), and a gussied up greyhound with basil and St. Germain (‘Call Me Knighthawk’).
The Stihl inhabits a narrow space on the ground floor of the big building on the corner of Bond and Franklin, but it looks out on Franklin Street (right next to the underground parking entrance), and it doesn’t get the Bond street foot traffic, which, in my book, is a good thing. It’s quiet and mellow and relaxing in there. The lighting is flattering, the bartenders are friendly and with chef Justin Goin often in the kitchen (formerly at Dojo, née Boken) you know there’s some good noshing to be had. I stopped in on a recent Wednesday night, sidled up to the bar with a friend and totally over ordered.
As a comfort-food fiend, the obvious place to start was the grilled cheese. The Shil version is more of a pulled beef brisket sandwich with some cheesy goodness (white cheddar) and pickled onions. Not that I’m complaining. The bread was perfectly grilled, but only notable for the texture: kind of crumbly and a little dense – it’s merely a vehicle to deliver the savory goodness inside. I’d definitely order it again.
Next up was the obligatory braised kale salad. The sauce was a little watery, but still tangy and full of flavor. The bacon was perfectly crisped (why, oh, why do some chefs ruin bacon by leaving it all flabby and half cooked? Not here) and together with the almond slivers added a lovely crunch to the wilted kale texture.
We inadvertently saved the best for last: The chicken pot pie. It may be the king of comfort food, but I’ve never been a fan… until the Stihl version, dubbed Mom’s Chicken Pot Pie, though ‘Not Your Mom’s Chicken Pot Pie’ would be more apt. Gone was the heavy pie dough and here it was replaced with a flakey pastry topper, as well as a twin square at the bottom, under the creamy filling. If you only order one dish at The Stihl, make it the pot pie. Don’t be put off by the deconstructed vibe. This is not prissy city food. Nope, it is a down-home, tummy-warming dish, perfected.
No room for dessert after that lineup, but our visit ended on a sweet note:
Our check was delivered in a vintage paperback.
Bottom line: Head to The Stihl for the warm, grown-up ambiance, the cocktails and the whiskey selection, and don’t miss the chicken pot pie.
The Stihl Whiskey Bar
550 NW Franklin Ave.
Bend, OR 97701