It seems the menus at brewpubs, from one to the next, are too often the same.
You know the drill: burgers, chicken wings, maybe macaroni and cheese or pizza. That sort of thing.
Not so at the new GoodLife Brewing Company in Bend. GoodLife doesn’t even have a grill, nor a deep fryer.
Its patrons are the better for it. Co-owner Ty Barnett has developed a healthy international “Bier Hall” menu that ranges from bourbon-baked brie to hop-infused hummus, and from bratwurst and pastrami to a Lebanese yellow-curry pocket.
Since opening in a warehouse in mid-June, GoodLife has become a neighborhood favorite and the cornerstone of the new Century Center complex on Bend’s west side. Its spacious brewing facility — home to the Bend Cycle Pub — adjoins a simple but pleasant bar and dining room that accommodates both groups and individuals.
Taps draw GoodLife’s own beers as well as other Oregon brews, plus wine from Volcano Vineyards, which has a tasting room just across the courtyard. And in warm weather a garage door opens to Century Center’s outdoor performance space, turning GoodLife into a de facto beer garden.
Bacon and more bacon
The menu features a variety of grilled paninis and other sandwiches, along with Cornish pasties and a choice of salads. In spite of some shortcomings, the quality is, by and large, excellent.
The hands-down favorite bar snack, according to Barnett, is “Bacon2,” pronounced “bacon squared.”
Ripe jalapeņo peppers are halved lengthwise, hollowed out and stuffed with a filling of cream cheese and bacon. Then they are roasted — and topped with more thick-cut bacon. There are a half-dozen of these in a serving, and they are spicy and delicious.
Bacon seems to be a theme at GoodLife in several of the salads and sandwiches. As Homer Simpson might say: “Mmmmmm. Bacon.”
There was lots of bacon in the German potato salad that accompanied my bratwurst order. Made with red onions and fresh herbs, the salad was dry but very tasty, thanks to a generous amount of stone-ground mustard that was a perfect complement to the brat.
Braised in beer and grilled, that sausage was excellent.
But I was disappointed that it was served with cold sauerkraut. I sent the cabbage back to the kitchen to be heated.
We also had issues with two of the salads, not for what they had, but for what they didn’t.
On one visit, my companion ordered a bacon-and-aged white cheddar salad “with tomato and organic arugula,” served on a bed of greens and tossed in pesto vinaigrette. When she pointed out to our server that it didn’t have any arugula, he went back to the kitchen and brought her a full plate of the peppery green.
On our next visit, she ordered a shaved fennel-and-beet salad.
It was delivered without fennel. And this time, the kitchen didn’t have an answer.
As it turned out, GoodLife was changing its menu for the winter season and had not renewed its order for fresh fennel. But although the dish was excellent — with dried cranberries, sliced almonds and goat cheese, along with candied golden beets — it was a shock not to get one of the primary ingredients. By all means, the server should have told my friend when she placed her order that there would be no fennel.
The brewpub did better with pasties and paninis.
Pasties (pronounced “PASS-tees”) are traditional filled pies well-known in the British Isles. Brought to the United States in the 19th century by miners from Cornwall, the recipe calls for filling to be scooped onto a flaky pastry circle, wrapped and baked. We tried two of them at GoodLife.
One was filled with pulled pork, braised in barbecue sauce; I loved the meat, even if the crust was overcooked and slightly burned. The other was filled with a vegetarian yellow curry featuring potatoes, onions and carrots; it was perfectly prepared.
The paninis were not cooked in a grill press, which I think made them better than many others I’ve had locally. The ingredients were grilled between two big slices of focaccia bread.
My favorite was made with slow-cooked beef shoulder, with havarti cheese and roasted red peppers and onions. It was dressed with a hop-infused chimichurri sauce, a garlicky South American sauce similar to pesto. The beef was tasty and tender. Although it has been removed from the new menu at GoodLife, I hope it occasionally reappears as a special.
If not, the hot pastrami panini is a worthy alternative. A generous serving of the cured beef is heaped onto focaccia with sauerkraut and cheddar cheese, and dressed with stone-ground mustard.
Now, there’s a fine lunch: Bacon-stuffed jalapeņos, a pastrami sandwich and a fresh craft beer. Talk about the GoodLife!
Rage Films and Scanlon’s, the fine-dining restaurant at the Athletic Club of Bend (61615 Athletic Club Drive), are collaborating for “An Evening in Argentina” on Nov. 7. Scanlon’s chef Chris Tate will serve five classic South American plates as local filmmaker Sky Pinnick presents his documentary, “Boom Varietal,” about the rise of the malbec varietal. The dinner begins at 6 p.m.; cost is $80, including pairings from six wineries featured in the movie. Contact: www.athleticclubofbend .com, 541-382-8769.