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Hearing Voices: The Summit serves up the latest O'Kane building grub 

click to enlarge The best bangers and mash in town at the Summit.
  • The best bangers and mash in town at the Summit.
The best bangers and mash in town at the Summit.
Local legend has it that downtown Bend's O'Kane Building is haunted by the voices of long departed souls. But it's a different kind curse that has vexed many of the recent tenants who have struggled and ultimately failed to gain a foothold in what should be a prime location.

Stuft Pizza had a good, long run in the huge restaurant space facing Oregon Avenue. But when rents went north they hightailed it to Highway 97 and died a slow death. Legends, while always packed on weekends, seemed to struggle with consistency and imaging problems. Then came the short-lived catastrophes of On the Rocks and Bend City Grill.

Now I'm hoping that the curse has been lifted and that the boys from The Downtowner along with other partners can turn this grand space into a place we can count on for good food, drink and music with the Summit Saloon and Stage.

The menu consists of well-made pub food. The standards are there-appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers and entrees with an emphasis on variety rather than tradition. Of the appetizers, I have sampled the Basil Pesto dip - a gooey sounding concoction of baked pesto topped cream cheese that was quite tasty; the Mediterranean Veggie Plate, which was fine, but nothing special, and the Summit Wings. The wings come with a choice of sauces, all of which are good, and vary in spice levels. The wings, while tender, had a slight fishy taste as though they'd been cooked in the same area/pan/oil as the fish and chips. It wasn't a bad fishy taste, but it just wasn't appropriate on my wings.

The Sweet Potato Dungeness Crab Soup sounds suspect, but is quite nice, redolent with chunks of crab, creamy with sweet potato and spiced up with white pepper. The menu features a BBQ pulled pork sandwich, which if it is the same as the Downtowner's, is phenomenal. I was, however, disappointed in my burger-it was dry and thin and there was nothing about it that would make me recommend it.

All the entrées I've sampled have been splendid, with big kudos going to the Bangers and Mash - by far the best in town (which I know isn't saying much since it's not like there is plethora of choices, but still a good title to have) - with super flavorful, tender sausages and creamy mashers topped with rich brown gravy. The Baked Penne pasta is also yummy, and you have the option to included meatless balls. Desserts so far have been a disappointment, but I got the feeling the dessert menu is a work in progress.

So far, the Summit is comfortable, casual and has better food than that location has seen in years. Work out the wrinkles and keep giving us great local music and we'll keep coming.


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