I’m driving south down coastal Highway 101, near Rockaway Beach, Oregon, when I suddenly spot this sign: “You have passed Kelly’s Brighton Marina. Turn around.” I veer off the road and do just that, having read about the place’s fresh-from-the water crab, oysters and clams. There are boats leaving the marina, people pulling crab pots from the water and a group of hunters in camouflage outfits and smudged faces departing with bags of live and cooked shellfish.
The breakfast specials alone at *Chow—a fittingly elegant eatery in beautiful Bend, Oregon—are almost bewildering in their number and complexity. My server has to read, off a pad, all the ingredients in the French toast, eggs Benedict and omelette specials. I opt for the daily locovore omelette ($12), which today features chicken-apple sausage, caramelized onions, local chanterelle mushrooms and cheese and a slightly spicy sauce I don’t catch the name of. It’s arguably the best breakfast I’ve had on a month-long road trip—light, fresh and perfectly balanced flavours—and comes with a choice of herbed potatoes, cornmeal-crusted tomatoes or creamy polenta. Indeed, every plate that passes, from pancakes to poached eggs, looks like something I’d like to devour.
The kicker, for my meal, is three tall bottles of house-made sauce of varying intensity, so good that I order a mason jar full to take home. I’m not sure why they need to put a squeeze bottle of ketchup on the table; it isn’t worthy of this company.
Owned by David Touvell, the “mad genius chef”, and Shawn Harvey, Chow is located in a restored old Bend house and surrounded by a lovely patio garden. The inside rooms are separated by parted curtains, decorated with local art and furnished with deep, comfy ottomans. It’s the kind of place you want to linger over your meal.
You pay a bit of a premium for breakfast here, but with food this creative and good, it’s still a bargain. I don’t even miss the toast.
1100 NW Newport Avenue, Bend, Oregon
Daily, 7 am-close