Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A rose by any other name . . .

Please excuse the horrible photography taken on my flip phone in dim lighting. Every post needs a photo, so you're stuck with this. 

I am not a food blogger. Not by a long-shot. In case the above photo didn't prove that to you, you can ask my friends. They'd tell you I'd make a horrible food critic. That's not to say I don't appreciate good food. I do. I even enjoy making food, when I have someone else to cook for. But when it's just me, food is a survival mechanism, and not always an art form.

I didn't realize until I did a bit of traveling in 2013 how spoiled I am with dining out options in this mountain town. For any of you who doesn't know, I live in Central Oregon's tourist mecca, Bend.

I work downtown. In a four block radius of my office you can find at least 8 different coffee shops, only one of which is a Starbucks. Not only does downtown boast an impressive variety of coffee shops, but there is not a single major chain restaurant in all of downtown, if you don't include that one Starbucks.

When I visited other cities last year, bigger places than Bend, I found that everywhere I went, I was eating at large chains. Places I haven't been to in years. I am not even joking when I tell you that the only McDonald's I went to in 2013 was in another country, but that's a different story all together.

Bend, and particularly downtown Bend, has tons of options for dining out. So many in fact, that I forgot about a new Thai place that opened up in November. I finally made it to Wild Rose this week. It features Northern Thai cuisine.

The small dining hall was packed when I walked in. Other than the bar, there was only one table open, and the couple in line behind me filled it.

Sitting at the bar, I learned was the best choice. It gave me a chance to talk to the server a bit more about the recommendations. I am notoriously indecisive. I prefer a few choices that I can easily narrow down, as opposed to many options that overwhelm me. I'm pretty adventurous when it comes to food, so I do like to get advice from the staff.

I was pleased to find that Wild Rose doesn't have your typical five page long menu as is common with many Thai/Chinese/Vietnamese eateries. At Wild Rose, the menu is one page. And a pretty page at that, printed on perhaps a bamboo paper. To hold the menu is an experience in itself.

In addition to the printed menu, the wall behind the bar is a giant chalkboard filled with current, rotating specials. Both the server and the bartender chatted with me and made recommendations. When I decided to go with the server's recommendation, I even got my own private lesson in pronunciation. (I love learning new words in all sorts of languages.)

After the gentleman (possibly an owner, they were busy so I didn't pester him with questions) took my order, I was slightly worried about time. I had gotten a late start getting to lunch, and I worried the crowded restaurant meant that I wouldn't have time to eat. But Wild Rose proved me wrong. They were speedy, and before I knew it, my meal was in front of me, complete with gold handled utensils. I strayed away from my usual green curry pick, and was glad I went with the Moo Gratiem, a garlic pork.

Prices for all the menu items were reasonable, and comparable to other lunch options downtown. Wild Rose is a great choice for anyone looking for Thai in Bend.


  1. I didn't realize how spoiled we were until I asked my in-laws where a small-business toy shop was in there area. There was not a privately owned restaurant in all of the 6 city metropolis and I realized during that trip I don't actually like chain restaurants all that much.

    1. I agree with you. I don't like the big restaurants either. Which is sort of weird coming out of rural Oregon, when a trip to the city and eating out at those places used to be a real treat.