I’m past Burger 100. Off the map. This is no longer a game but a lifestyle. I’m too deep in. Too far gone to return. I can’t remember the taste or chicken. Of pizza. Of salad. Of anything listed under “entree” on the menu.
It’s partly cloudy and cold and dusty on this last day of summer deep on the west side of town. My target is Bistro 28, the cafe inside the Athletic Club of Bend, a sort of gym trying hard to be a country club. The parking lot had been overrun for a Cyclocross bout. I saw some friends off on their bikes as they raced and stumbled through dust and around corners and over jumps on a serpentine course. I’d lost interest quickly and headed inside for the burger.
From the outside The Athletic Club looks and feels like a public middle school. Concrete brick facade with teal trim and large pull through drive way. I felt a tinge of apprehension approaching the front doors on my own beat, no teachers or backpacks or class bells to dictate my arrival. The entrained fear of authority doubled up as a front desk of sharp dressed greeters smiled falsely at me as I stepped inside. The glare of “state your business” forced me to bow my head in submission and I managed only a slight nod towards the entrance of the restaurant.My passage was permitted.
I felt more at ease at the bar. The bartender’s false glow was undermined by his sincere interest to bypass his own boredom in this darkly lit gym cafe. Country club restaurants always remind me of airport restaurants: a false sense of elitism, like just the act of being here somehow puts you above the rest, above the ruffians scurrying about their useless days.
The only burger option was buffalo. The only bun option pretzel. I opted for bacon but that request was lost in idle translation. The result was good, sure, but unremarkable. But the fries. Damn, those are good fries. I shoveled them through the chipotle aioli and into my mouth faster than appropriate. I only learned later this was the sister restaurant to Zydeco, that place of legendary shoestring fries. If only they could carry over the burger abilities.
Score: 3.5 of 5
Price: $14 with fries
Beer: Crux Pilz