I got a note a couple of months ago from Providence Cicero, the outstanding food critic of the Seattle Times. Providence represents the Pacific Northwest on the James Beard awards committee, which annually honors the nation’s finest restaurant chefs. Word of Bend had spread: She asked me if Jason Logan “might be one you think is on a par with the best chefs cooking in Portland or Seattle”?
If you don’t know Jason Logan … I’m sorry. Jason is the owner and chef of Bistro Corlise, the marvelous French country-style bistro on Wall Street in downtown Bend. Jason is a man consumed with French wines and French cuisine, a connoisseur who will find great Old World wines and build a meal around them. He is a chef with the imagination and creativity and unbending passion to fashion an entire dinner using every part of a pig, from head to tail, snout to trotters to internal organs, in a gourmet meal, as he did two weeks ago.
Unfortunately, Jason is not on the same wave length as the city in which he lives. His Gallic sensibilities might make him a culinary wunderkind in San Francisco or Chicago or Vancouver. But Bend is still too small, too recently removed from its steak-and-potatoes roots, to turn a talented French chef into an overnight sensation. And so, just a year and a half after it opened, Bistro Corlise is closing its doors.
When I dropped by the restaurant last night (Thursday), and enjoyed a couple of glasses of Bordeaux with a cheese plate, Logan reaffirmed that today (Friday) would be his last day in business. Ramsey and Juli Hamdan, former owners of the Jackalope Grill and the Barking Squirrel catering business, will take over the restaurant in mid-March. Ramsey, a chef of Lebanese-American ancestry, will open JOOLZ and begin serving eastern Mediterranean cuisine, by early May.
That means tonight is your last chance to enjoy the finest continental cuisine for hours’ drive in any direction. I recommend you start with a pork crepinette, with bean puree and a poached egg, followed by green lentil soup with chilled butter. Then give strong consideration to the seared duck breast, served with duck confit and parsnips. That trio prices out at $48. A bottle of 2000 Chateau Riviere La Biche, a Cotes de Bourg varietal, will set you back another $31. Figure in dessert and tip, and you’re looking at a C-note … but what’s your alternative? a flight to San Francisco?
As of 9:30 last night, Bistro Corlise had “just a couple” of dinner reservations. The next time you encounter Jason Logan, he’ll have a restaurant in a much larger city, and will be a regular guest chef at the James Beard House in New York. Please: If you haven’t already, catch him now, while you can.