Upon an unexpected date night (the best kind!), my husband and I had to quickly figure out where to dine before our movie (in the end, the dinner was better than the movie, for what its worth). I had seen Spork around town as a food truck, but never gave it a go until I recently noticed that it opened a permanent location. We found a place to park along the icy Newport Avenue and walked in. The colorful interior was a welcomed sight of ethnical and modern décor. We grabbed a menu off of a stand near the door and stood in line to order before finding a place to sit. The process is still very much like a food truck in this way, order and pay in line, seat yourself, and then bus your own table. The line wasn’t terribly long, maybe 5-10 minutes, which gave us ample time to search the menu.
I found several dishes that sounded intriguing but settled on Western African Peanut Curry. My husband went with a Shredded Chicken Rice Bowl accompanied by the cucumber salad. His other side option was Kimchee (which I LOVE!), but my hubs is more likely to stick with sure-fire menu options. We found a cozy seat for two, in a fairly small dining room, but still found it private enough to converse without overhearing our neighbors. We noticed that a lot of people came in for to-go orders, which I’ll remember for those evenings when cooking just won’t be happening.
Our meals arrived after another 10 minutes and we dove in. I was pretty much in Heaven. If Heaven serves Western African Peanut Curry, I imagine that it would taste strikingly similar to Spork’s. It was spicy and authentic. It was vegetarian but substantial. It came with a generous bowl of jasmine rice and a lime wedge. The shredded chicken rice bowl was very much enjoyed as well. We ate quickly in order to get the movie in time, bussed our table, and headed out the door with a new local eatery to remember.
AND THEN, about a three days later, my folks decided to take my family out to dinner to celebrate my birthday. I had told them about my heavenly meal and as foodies themselves, we all agreed to give Spork another go. This time there were six of us to stand in line and find a seat. The bigger the party, the harder it is to find a seat to accommodate everyone, but we were fortunate to get there a tiny bit before the big dinner rush that set the line back by many, MANY minutes (those poor, hungry, souls).
This time I ordered Grilled Vegetable Coconut Green Curry. My husband ordered the exact same thing as the last time (sure-fire, remember?). In fact, he so highly recommended this dish, that my stepfather and son also banked on it. Our girl chose a chicken and cheese taco from the kid menu. My mom went with Spicy Fried Chicken. Here’s the sad part: none of them ordered the kimchee. Which means that I’ll have to go back again. Bummer. Winkwink.
The grilled vegetable coconut green curry was delicious. Although it has curry in common with my previous dish, it had a different flavor profile. It was also spicy, also vegetarian and also substantial, but a much different dinner. If I had to chose between the two, I’d likely chose the…well…I’d just go twice.
My mom was well pleased with her spicy fried chicken and I was too when she was kind enough to let me have a bite. My son, who has a hallow leg, enjoyed his dinner very much. Sadly, and this is my only complaint, our daughter’s taco was a pathetic display compared to the evident caliber of Spork. To begin, it was a tiny tortilla, about the size of my palm, with large chunks of white and dark chicken, topped with a small amount of cheese. That’s it. It was a sad sight and such a shocker after everything else was so glorious. We supplemented her meal with rice and cucumber salad from our dinners. Lesson learned on that account, we will just order from the regular menu for our kids in the future.
In all, Spork was a delightful surprise. I’ve never been to western Africa, or anywhere that serves curry as a mainstay, but I imagine that the food is authentic to these locations. There were flavors from Asia and South America. The food felt real and made the body feel fed, really fed with real food. They also serve a variety of local beers, specialty cocktails and other beverages, along with simple house-made desserts. If you live here in Bend, or plan to visit, it would be worth a stop at Spork. The value of the food, and the pricing, is impressive. I am certainly a fan and our family will be repeat patrons.
937 NW Newport Avenue Bend Oregon 97701 http://sporkbend.com/