Finally, GOOD restaurant news!

fireside-red-002Here’s what you’ve been waiting for: some good restaurant news to counteract all the negativity floating around in the Central Oregon community these days!

#1: Fireside Red will reopen on Tuesday, February 10, in time for Valentine’s Day. “We have already begun taking reservations,” said general manager Michael (“MJ”)  Jasilewicz Jr. And executive chef Ryan Barnett will return next week from a three-week Mexican honeymoon to introduce a new American tapas menu.

While acknowledging rampant rumors that the popular Old Mill District restaurant would close permanently after going on a two-month winter sabbatical in early December,  MJ said, “We are reopening and creating jobs, and that’s what matters. In these unique and challenging times, we must make decisions that do not always gather popular support or understanding. Our approach has been slightly unorthodox, but we have willfully made decisions for the success of Fireside Red.”

MJ explained that the establishment closed for several reasons, chief of which was to make renovations not considered when the restaurant first opened in early 2008. When I visited this afternoon, he and partner Pete Keenan pointed out heavily reshellacked tables, a new bar set-up, repositioned televisions and more efficient heat lamps on the expansive deck, among other changes.

#2. Chloe has closed in Redmond … but reemerged in Sisters.  Hidden away in a strip-mall setting within the Fred Meyer shopping complex, Chloe New American Cuisine never got its proper due after opening there in May 2007. But executive chef Silisak (Jerry) Phaisavath and his wife, general manager Elaine Larson, now have a space that should enable them to display Jerry’s ample culinary skills.

Chloe at FivePine takes over the former Pleiades restaurant in the FivePine resort, at the west entrance to Sisters. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday … currently for dinners from 5 to 9 p.m., and beginning February 3, for lunches from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Call 588-6151 for reservations.

Born and raised in the country of Laos, trained in French culinary techniques, Phaisavath can subtly blend Asian and Continental flavors to appeal to American tastes. The onetime Black Butte Ranch chef makes the best crab cakes I’ve had east of the Cascade Range–Dungeness crab, sea scallops and white fish blended with fresh herbs, without a bread-heavy filler, then pan-fried and topped with a sweet tomato-ginger jam.

#3. The Brickhouse Steak and Raw Bar, hands-down Redmond’s best restaurant, has been honored by Wine Enthusiast magazine with its “Award of Unique Distinction” … one of only four given in the entire state of Oregon. (Also honored were restaurants in Portland, Jacksonville and Lincoln City.)  Owner Jeff Porad, himself a wine expert, noted that the award is given to a restaurant “based on the quality of the overall wine program, not just on the size of a restaurant’s wine list.”

It’s always good to report the positive.  Let’s hope these upbeat items signal a turnabout in the local economy!

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