Bend Eats: Drake

Bend Eats: Drake

IMG_1433It’s been awhile since I posted, and a ton has happened (more on the latest personal life developments later), but for the moment, I feel I’m doing y’all a disservice by keeping my favorite watering hole / grub spot all to myself. Seriously, I think I’ve sidled up to the bar at the Drake for dinner at least five times in the last seven days. Calling it my “Cheers” would be an understatement. Thank god the owner, chef, manager, bartender and staff are super cool, otherwise I might feel like a weird resto stalker.

If you haven’t been to the Drake on Wall Street downtown, do yourself a favor and stop in. If you can manage,  stop in between 3 and 5 when it’s super slow so you can easily snag a luxurious booth and chat with the attentive (and generally awesome) staff. Bonus: Happy hour starts at 3:00. If you’re more in the mood for dinner, make a reservation (request a booth) a few days in advance. The open kitchen and the French bistro-ish interior gives this spot a relaxed but still elegant vibe that’s hard to find in Bend. Not to mention, it’s truly a chef-driven joint.

Chef John Gurnee is legit. He’s big-city trained and uses as many local ingredients as possible. The quality ingredients, plus Chef Gurnee’s artistic but still down-home flair make for truly mmmmm-worthy food. He does beautifully prepared comfort food and stunning specials (lamb, duck, fish – you name it, he knows how to do it right), and scrumptious sides (crispy brussels sprouts) and starters that make you wish they didn’t change with seasonal availability. If you like fennel, you’ll be in heaven, it seems to be Chef Gurnee’s secret weapon – and he wields it judiciously and, well, perfectly.

Don’t take my word for it. Stop in for happy hour and ask the staff what’s delicious – they’ll steer you in the right direction. If you stop in on a weekend night without a reservation, expect to wait for a table. Just make a reservation, it’s worth it. Oh… and Drake doesn’t do breakfast (they open at 11) but every Sunday they offer one single breakfast special: Chicken and Waffles. Oh dear god. Boneless fried chicken breasts, perfect waffles, all with insane bacon-y syrup. Just. Go. To. There. Sundays only. They’re a little addictive. You’ve been warned.

So anyway… I know “farm to table” is a little overused and maybe even passe by now, but Chef Gurnee’s menu embodies the best of farm to table without any poseur / hipster pretentiousness…  This place makes me very happy. The food, the people, the drinks… it’s as good as it gets in Bend, or really in any city.

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