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Home on the Range

We settled in at our table at Brasada Ranch’s Range Restaurant and Bar, gazed at the panoramic view of the Cascades, and ordered drinks as well as two boards topped with small offerings including a variety-pack of warm olives with citrus (oh yah!), crispy fried asparagus with a paprika aioli (double oh yay!), a tasty lightly smoked trout mousse with picked red onions, and deviled eggs with candied bacon atop a splash of bourbon-maple sauce. The latter’s play of salt with a hint of sweet would be re-echoed through the rest of the dinner.

We tried three other appetizers from the menu that changes weekly. The roasted whole head of cauliflower was visually impressive but a little too plain. That was not a problem with either the soft shell crab that was crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside, or the rich, succulent shredded duck confit served with pickled plum and grilled kale—one of the night’s favorite dishes.

We really could have stopped there. But oh how we kept going.

Range has an outdoor barbecue, so we had to have the chicken that had spent the better part of the day slow roasting on a spit. From its crackling, deep golden brown skin to its moist, juicy meat, it was the essence of what chicken can and should be. A fennel marmalade added a contrasting nod of sweetness.

The wild King Salmon was a beautiful piece of fish, beautifully cooked. The dish, served with lemony baby artichokes, was delicious despite a little too much salt.

Rock Shrimp Risotto, with olives, capers and saffron, was creamy with the rice still retaining a slight bite. We all wanted a little more shrimp in the dish, probably because it was just so darn good.

We had to try one of the two steaks. We opted for the beef tenderloin, served with cast-iron potatoes, royal trumpet (the largest variety in the oyster mushroom family), and port-caramelized onions. The steak was so lusciously tender that my friend Jill almost refused to share.

In the interest of research, we decided to sample the Fields & Garden Trio, an entrée of three vegetable options. Our hands-down favorite was the coal-roasted beets with walnuts, blue cheese in a golden raisin vinaigrette—a true winner with a sweet, sharp note.

From the outset, we had all decided against the albacore special, since tuna is often so dry. Executive Chef Ryan Sturmer sent it out anyway and the entrée turned out to be one of the best and most beautiful in a field of all-star contenders. A nice sear contrasted with the tarragon-perfumed, silky fish. Our conclusion: If a dish is offered as a special, it’s going to be special. Order it.

Ready for another news flash? There’s a rumor that Range Restaurant and Bar may stay open year-round. The best way to make that happen? Head there as often as possible. I know my friends and I will do our part.