Redmond's new Red Rooster Restaurant and Omelet House advertises itself as the “best value in Central Oregon.”
I'm not going to declare that to be true or false. But in three recent visits to this family-style restaurant, there's no doubt I got plenty of food for prices I considered more than fair.
Now, the food wasn't always great. In fact, I'd rate the quality of cuisine about 50-50; although half the time it was pretty darn good, the other half was far from palatable. I even sent a dinner entree back because it was so badly overcooked.
Still, the ambience is pleasant and the service I've received has been consistently excellent. For a three-meals-a-day motel restaurant — it sits next to the Sleep Inn, across Sixth Street from Walmart at the north end of Redmond — the Red Rooster is better than most of its ilk, despite its shortcomings.
The Red Rooster opened in August, replacing Chloe at North Redmond Station, a casual fine-dining establishment that never really hit its stride as it moved between three Central Oregon locations, beginning in 2007.
Brad Johnson is the owner of the Red Rooster restaurant group that, so far, is a group of one. (Restaurants of the same name in La Pine and Klamath Falls are unrelated.)
According to general manager Jim Kuava, a second Red Rooster is planned in Bend for the early spring, with expectations that others will follow. “We're looking at two or three locations,” Kuava said.
Eventually, the group hopes, the image of a ruby-colored rooster will become as well-known to regional travelers as the welcoming animals of the Black Bear Diners.
Certainly, the red rooster is prominent inside and out at the Redmond store. Most prominent is the one that stands above an indoor rock fountain, beside a colorful farm-scape pastel mural that also depicts the cock-a-doodling barnyard fowl. Other sculpted chickens sit atop a dividing wall that splits the spacious dining room in two.
The main room, handsome if understated, seats about 120 guests at 15 booths and 10 tables beneath hanging lamps. There are more seats in a rear coffee bar (no alcohol is served). Large windows look out at the motel and highway. Easy-listening music — Christmas tunes on my first visit, classic country (Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn) on my second — plays in the background.
I appreciate the level of service at the Red Rooster. Each time I stepped through the double doors of the restaurant, I felt well attended. Without exception, the staff of men and women servers, all dressed in bright red shirts and black pants, were friendly, cheerful and efficient.
On each visit, I was greeted promptly, seated and presented the menu on oversized, laminated pages, along with water served in a mason jar. My order was quickly taken and delivered. And even when I returned my entree, it was removed without question. When I ordered a less-expensive entree as a replacement, I was charged only for the second dish.
The Red Rooster calls itself an omelet house, with 38 omelets and numerous other egg and pancake dishes on a breakfast menu that is served all day. It would have been irresponsible for me not to order an omelet.
“Our big thing is our omelets,” Kuava assured me. “We do everything from scratch.”
I chose the Cowboy Special. According to the menu, “folks come from far and near for this one!” Indeed, I haven't seen an omelet this large in years. I suggested to my server that there must have been a half-dozen eggs in it, but he corrected me. “Typically, our omelets have eight or nine eggs,” he said.
Bits of mushrooms and onions were cooked into the omelet with the eggs. They were folded around a generous scoop of homemade chili with ground beef, beans, stewed tomatoes and melted cheddar cheese. At $7.99, the portion was more than I could eat.
I also enjoyed the accompanying breakfast potatoes, just called “spuds.” They were sliced and pan-fried to be crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. A choice of buttered toast with packaged jam came on the side.
Lunch and dinner
My lunch and dinner experiences were not so satisfying.
The corned beef in a Reuben sandwich, served on lightly toasted (not grilled) marbled rye, was lean but far from tender. A layer of sauerkraut was tossed with a modest amount of Russian dressing. Slices of processed Swiss cheese were only slightly melted on each piece of toast.
Dinner service begins at 4 p.m. My starting salad was made of fresh iceberg lettuce with slivers of red cabbage and carrots, three pear tomatoes and a half-dozen house-made croutons. Honey-mustard dressing came on the side.
At my server's suggestion, I ordered rosemary chicken, a full half bird “slow-roasted to perfection,” the menu said.
I'm sure it was slow-roasted, but it was far from perfect. The skin, in fact, was charred well past golden-brown. A drumstick was still moist inside, but when I couldn't even cut into the breast with my knife, I asked that the dish be replaced. The nightly special was meatloaf, and while hardly gourmet, it wasn't bad. Two thick slices of meat were blended with onions, celery and red peppers, and served with a rich, brown mushroom gravy.
I kept the sides served with my chicken. A medley of vegetables — carrots, cauliflower and broccoli — were fresh and perfectly cooked, retaining just a touch of crunch. They were presented unseasoned, allowing me to determine my quotient of salt and pepper. A “loaded” baked potato came with sour cream, real bacon bits and shredded cheddar.
Arnold's Malt Shoppe & Pizzaria has celebrated its two-month anniversary in downtown Redmond, in the former Guido & Vito's Italian Eatery at Sixth Street and Evergreen Avenue, at the historic New Redmond Hotel. All pizzas are priced under $20, with individual slices offered for as little as $2. Burgers and other sandwiches run $6.95 to $9.50. General manager John Cox also offers a nice range of healthy salads so patrons won't feel guilty when they're sipping on a creamy malt or shake. Open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. 511 S.W. Sixth St., Redmond; 541-504-9922, www.facebook.com.