Walking into the new location of Bethlyn's Global Fusion it's easy to see why chef and owner Bethlyn Rider hopped at the chance to set roots down by Newport Market. The space is larger and brighter with beautiful wooden tables and a much homier sensibility. Plus, Global Fusion is a perfect fit on the Westside in the same neighborhood as Spork, Chow, Kanpai and Kebaba. The move to a trendier brick-and-mortar spot will help get the good word out to the burgeoning foodie community on those few blocks. Bethlyn said it herself when asked what inspired her to move: "Location, location, location!"
Rider's amazing cooking comes as no surprise to anyone who has been a foodie in Central Oregon for the last few years. As the executive chef for Broken Top Bottle Shop, she helped it earn their 2014 Best of Central Oregon award for vegetarian food with her innovative and experimental flavors. I still say the honey hoisin ribs she concocted there are the finest I've ever tasted.
Following that success, she further cemented her reputation as a powerful creative force with her work in her Global Fusion food truck. It was the easiest decision in the world to drive a little past The Lot and snuggle up on a bench to eat one of her massive burritos or fried avocado tacos.
Taking her inspiration from culinary traditions around the world, this worldly chef blends flavor profiles together with her own special twist, creating a menu that is uniquely Central Oregonian and multicultural at the same time. Although the new west side location shares the same name and creative spirit as her popular food truck, Bethlyn has promised that the atmosphere and menu will have something new to offer, even for seasoned fans.
My dining partner and I stopped into the new location on its opening day. The menu hadn't changed too much, which I was grateful for since that meant we could start with the fried avocado tacos and the fried cauliflower. I'm sensing a pattern here. Anyway, the tacos were still perfect: fried without a trace of damp greasiness and lightly spattered with her roasted red pepper cream. The fried cauliflower was delectably crunchy while exploding with a buffalo sauce that stayed on the right side of spicy.
We followed this with the Gyro Bowl and the ½-pound All American Millican Valley Grass Fed Burger. We figured we should follow up all of the fried food with something even more in the realm of comfort food and our choices did not disappoint. What really impressed me about the burger was its complete lack of over-complication. Most burgers nowadays are such an explosion of different sauces and rubs that you can't really taste the meat, but Rider definitely put the spotlight on the beef with simple small notes of just salt and pepper.
The Gyro Bowl came with seared spinach and kale, a lemon pesto rice, garam marsala chick peas, Kalamata olives, feta, cucumbers and roasted grape tomatoes. Served with warm and fresh pita bread, the bowl was a complicated delight. Each bite a took on completely different flavor profiles as the wonderfully balanced pesto made way for the smokey chick peas and red wine soaked olives. Nothing fought for attention; instead, each flavor felt in perfect harmony.
As we got ready to leave, I asked Bethlyn what she hoped people took away from her food. Her answer was the same thing I hope all true lovers of food take away from every excellent meal: "That it's memorable. They dream about it during their daytime hours. If they choose not to dream about it, then we are not doing our job." Job well done.
Bethlyn's Global Fusion
Fri & Sat 11am-9pm
1075 NW Newport Ave., Bend