For its first several years, Bend’s Pronghorn Club let it be known that it was exclusive. Its golf courses and restaurants were the strict domain of well-to-do residents and their guests.
That changed in late May, when the Arizona-based Troon Golf company assumed management of the residential resort.
One of Troon’s first actions was to open Pronghorn’s restaurants — The Trailhead, Chanterelle and Cascada — to the general public. But six months later, the resort’s dining scene remains a mystery to most Central Oregon “foodies.”
There are multiple reasons. One is the distance to Pronghorn; the 20-minute drive from the east side of Bend, past the municipal airport and out Powell Butte Highway, becomes at least a half hour in winter. Another is the curtailment of food service during this colder time of year, when good days for golf on the Nicklaus and Fazio courses are few and far between.
Nevertheless, it’s not hard to justify the trek to Pronghorn in winter. Chanterelle, the elegant fine-dining restaurant in the resort’s grand Clubhouse, is hosting a special Christmas Eve dinner and a New Year’s Eve bash that starts with dinner and continues past midnight. A series of winemakers’ dinners are scheduled through the winter months, as they were in autumn.
I attended one of those reservation-only dinners late last month, when my friend Justin Wylie, owner of Va Piano Vineyards in Walla Walla, came to Central Oregon to share his wines with diners at Chanterelle.
While I thought that chef Mike Shibel’s menu was unusual — two days after Thanksgiving turkey, it featured quail and duck — it was very well prepared, and the wine pairings were perfect.
This was the menu: Lobster consommé, with ravioli-style dumplings, accompanied by an oaky Semillon. Roasted quail, in a cherry reduction sauce with vegetable wild rice, served with a Cabernet blend. Seared duck breast, with blackberry jus and chopped sweet-potato hash, presented with Syrah. And chocolate trifle, with a Frangelico sabayon and raspberries, offered with Cabernet Sauvignon.
During the prime resort season of spring through early fall, breakfast, lunch and dinner are served at the Trailhead, where the resort offices and concierge services are located. But the Trailhead closes in winter, so the three daily meals are served in Cascada, otherwise the Clubhouse’s 19th-hole café. It’s open five days a week, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
I dropped by for a casual lunch, prepared by chef Katie Yount. My beef carpaccio appetizer was wonderfully lean, served with capers, shaved pecorino cheese and German-style ground mustard. A hearty black-bean chili came with chunks of chicken meat, tomato and onion, garnished with lime zest, cheddar cheese and sour cream. My wedge salad, a quarter-head of iceberg lettuce, was rich with bleu cheese, bacon crumbles, tomato, pecorino and ground pepper.
I’ll be writing a formal review of the Pronghorn restaurants for The Bulletin when the Trailhead reopens in spring. In the meantime, for information, go to www.pronghornclub.com/clubhouse.html. Bon appetit.