A new acquaintance asked me the other day where he could find the best steak in Bend. I told him Brickhouse, which opened in this city on Thursday night (December 2).
I didn’t make that recommendation lightly. Another friend said she likes Riverhouse. My reigning choice had been the Blacksmith.
But for several years I have been partial to Brickhouse Steak & Seafood in downtown Redmond, and I have high expectations for its success in Bend.
Brickhouse has taken over the Mill Quarter space above the Deschutes River that, during the past two years, has been home to Fireside red, the River Mill Grill and the Northwest Urban Grill.
The location, at the south end of Wall Street on Industrial Way, has inherited an unfortunate reputation as “cursed” because of the frequent turnover. I don’t believe it.
While the restaurant has often changed hands, the building has had the same owner for years.
Katherine Zemke leased the space first to Michael (M.J.) Jasilewicz, Jr., and Peter Keenan, who opened Fireside red in February 2008 and operated it until May 2009. When they were financially unable to continue, Zemke invited veteran Central Oregon restaurateur Axel Hoch to take over. Health problems contributed to Hoch’s withdrawal in May of this year, 10 months after he had launched the River Mill Grill.
Unwilling to leave the space unattended, Zemke decided to take her own shot at the restaurant business. She struggled to carry the Northwest Urban Grill through the summer.
Then an attorney introduced her to Jeff Porad, who has built Brickhouse into Redmond’s finest restaurant since he opened it in 2008, within days of Fireside red.
Porad is no stranger to the Old Mill neighborhood. For a time before opening a Sunriver-area restaurant in 2007, he had been the bar manager at Anthony’s and, briefly at Greg’s Grill.
In spite of his success in Redmond with Brickhouse and a small Italian spot, Cafe Alfresco, I sense that he longed for a return to the river views.
Porad and Zemke struck a deal in September. Almost immediately, the Brickhouse owner offered the position of general manager to Ron Lybeck, Central Oregon’s consummate restaurant professional.
Lybeck cut his culinary teeth as a waiter and wine steward in the highly competitive New York restaurant scene in the 1980s and ’90s. Since settling in Oregon, he has attracted a legion of devoted patrons to Merenda, Staccato, Trattoria Sbandati and 900 Wall, as well as to Brickhouse in Redmond.
The debonair pair have installed large, handsome booths as part of a makeover of their new space. They’ve added an extensive, expertly chosen wine list that rivals any in the region.
And the menu is the same one that has reigned in Redmond. Rib-eyes and filets, priced between $23 and $30, are cut from Double R Ranch beef, custom-aged and hormone-free. Seafood is in the same price range — lobster tail, seared sashimi-grade ahi, scallops, prawns, Dungeness crab and king crab legs.
Make a reservation by calling 541-728-0334.