It had been one of those days. I was ready for a cocktail. Really ready. The friends I met certainly didn't argue. As usual, we opted for the house drink specials. At Pure Kitchen, those all have a tropical twist. My Thai Chili Side Car, a creamy, slightly spicy mixture of brandy and tuaca muddled with Thai chili and lemon, provided exactly the comfort I was looking for. Tasting all the other drinks—a coconut Cosmo, a pineapple mojito and the potentially lethal Thunder Devil (think Long Island Ice Tea with Thai Coffee)—didn't hurt either.
Bolstered by our fabulous cocktails, we ordered quickly. The fun part of being at a small plates bar is that you can choose a bunch of dishes. We kicked off round one with The Crying Tiger, slices of grilled hanger steak cooked medium rare and served with spicy tamarind atop two grilled asparagus. The meat was so tender and flavorful that happy grunts replaced the usual commentary. The ultra crispy house-cut fries were even more memorable.
"I feel like I'm in a chip shop," said my Canadian friend.
"These are happiness," said my friend who usually doesn't indulge in carbs.
We tried the ground pork and shrimp dumplings next, which actually looked more like meatballs sitting in wonton cups. The initial hit of ginger and garlic was rounded out by the sweet soy sauce and a bit of spice. "Oh so good," was the verdict.
A hint of mild curry livened up bite-sized, crispy, golden empanadas stuffed with chicken, carrot, potato, onion and mozzarella.
Chilled tuna tartar with lemongrass and ginger provided a nice balance of sweet and spicy, with diced cucumbers imparting a crunchy contrast to the silky sushi-grade tuna squares.
PURE KITCHEN: 550 NW FRANKLIN AVE #118 BEND, OREGON 97701
Source: www.cascadeae.com, by Linden Gross