Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Laughing Planet Cafe for Lunch

Bend, Oregon

0500 alarm clock alert, 0600 banana/peach smoothie breakfast, 0630 departure and a whole lot of driving between Seattle, WA and Bend, OR before we finally thought about stopped for lunch. No problem, dining at Bend's Laughing Planet Cafe on NE 3rd Street was well worth the distance and our 7-hour stretch between meals. The restaurant came well recommended so we didn't have to waste any time deciding where to eat. As usual, my challenge would be deciding what to eat. 

The cafe's paper, take-home menu opens with the following:
"The Laughing Planet approach to food is simple and straightforward, and looks like this: get the food from the farm to your plate as quickly as possible and in the least complicated way. We believe in directly supporting a local economy, including the farmers from whom we source our high quality produce."  
Fresh - local - uncomplicated - what's not to like so far? I noticed the nearby diners kept smiling as they ate, concentrating on their colorful bowls and plates and keeping conversations to a minimum. My flavor expectations rose a notch or two higher.

Highlighted boxes on the same menu announced:
"Your pleasure is our motto! At Laughing Planet Cafe, if you don't like what you ordered, we'll remake it for you. If after the make-over you're still not satisfied, it's on us! That's the Laughing Planet iron-clad guarantee."
"Iron-clad guarantee: please do not pay for anything you don't like! Seriously!"
Make overs - on the house guarantee - okay, now I expected some seriously good eats. I was not disappointed. Three of us ordered different items,  sampled each dish, and each declared our individual menu choice a winner. We all won, lunch was delicious!

RL ordered the Korean BBQ bowl, a riotously colorful dish where the beef marinade and spicy sauce rock the taste buds... in a good way. I really want need the secret recipe for the beef marinade and BBQ sauce! Are you listening Laughing Planet?
Photo: Korean BBQ Bowl
Your choice of local braised 100% grass-fed beef or baked organic Surata tofu, broccoli, brown rice, cilantro-lime slaw, quick-pickled cucumbers, toasted sesame seeds, and spicy Korean BBQ sauce.
I chose the Thai Bowl, a beautiful mound of crisp-yet-tender neon-bright vegetables, savory baked tofu plus some added extra chicken, and an amazing peanut sauce - all of that over brown rice. It tasted as good as it looked and yes, I ate every bit of this piled-high delight.
Photo: Thai Bowl with tofu and chicken
Thai Bowl: Baked organic Surata tofu, garlic green beans, steamed broccoli on brown rice, topped with a cilantro lime slaw and served with Thai Lemongrass Peanut sauce.
Local resident Donna recommended Laughing Planet and was familiar with the menu. Already a fan of the various bowls and quesadillas, this time she headed to the burrito side of the menu. The vegetarian and omnivore sections offer interesting combinations of ingredients and seasonings, but Donna zeroed in immediately on the mole-sauced chicken and bean combo in the Holy Mole. Flavorful and filling, this burrito could be a whole-meal-in-a-wrapper favorite. 
Photo: Holy Mole burrito
Smart pinto beans, grilled Draper Valley natural chicken, Tillamook jack cheese, brown rice, pico de gallo and homemade Mole sauce.
Laughing Planet's staff was enthusiastic, friendly and knowledgeable; I especially appreciated the helpful food and beverage ordering suggestions. The recommended local micro brew (dark porter) and a hard cider paired well with our menu choices. The room was light and bright, the seating comfortable, the service fast and the decor.. interesting. Several small dinosaurs lurked here and there. There must be an interesting story behind the colorful assortment of reptiles.

On a return trip to Bend the menu's soups, salads, smoothies, homemade cookies and a handful of breakfasty items might tempt me, but today's choices couldn't have suited us any better. Laughing Planet has 9 cafes in Portland, 2 in Eugene, 1 in Corvallis, 1 in Bend and 1 in Reno. Reno? So when is LPC coming to Seattle?! I'm waiting.

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