Monkless Belgian Ales’ New Riverfront Brasserie is Open in Bend

The bar at Monkless Brasserie. All photos courtesy Monkless Belgian Ales

On Friday, November 1st, Monkless Belgian Ales officially opened its Brasserie in what Bendites call the “Red Building.” Owners Todd and Robin Clement completed a full remodel of the space to incorporate their brand. The Brasserie is a Belgian-style restaurant that speaks of old-world Belgium and incorporates Bend, Oregon history as well.

The menu is a large swing away from what you would see in any other restaurant in Bend. It boasts classics from mussels to poutine, and of course standard pommes frites. The frites are twice-fried in duck fat and come with your choice of sauces: curry ketchup, lemon caper, Kewpie mayo, horseradish Dijon, and chipotle aioli. Keep in mind that mayo is the traditional way to eat your frites, if you want to keep things authentic. The Belgian Firkadellen (Belgian-style meatballs) were fantastic. The sauce was tangy and rich while the meatballs were surprisingly light and scrumptious. The soup du jour was a potato and leek soup. It was silky smooth and full of garlic deliciousness. The chicken schnitzel with herb spaetzle is a must have; perfectly juicy chicken that is flattened, breaded and fried, how can you go wrong? The herbed spaetzle was perfectly cooked and coated with creamy cheese goodness. The cheese on the Trappist Provisions Charcuterie and Cheeses board was decadent. The marmalade and duck sausage are made in house. It is evident that their chef, Gary Shelly, is very passionate about what he puts on a plate.

Classic pommes frites and a Belgian ale
The Dubbel flight at Monkless Brasserie

Monkless provides three curated flights (for two to share): Trippel bottle flight; Dubbel bottle flight and the Dark Strong bottle flight. I opted for the last. Three bottles were brought with matching glasses. Todd and Robin Clement explained that the glasses were an important part of the tasting experience. They said that many times, the beer is made to fit a specific glass rather than the other way around. Three bottles: Rochefort 8; St. Bernardus Abt 12 and Monkless Meet Your Maker each had their respective glass. Drinking these three Dark Strong beers side by side was cool. Serving these outstanding beers beside each other made it possible to taste the difference between them, showcasing their uniqueness. The St. Bernardus Abt 12 provided more fruitiness (raisin) while Meet Your Maker was rich and malty. Rochefort 8 was light, and the flavors were subtle and balanced.

The interior of Monkless Brasserie is old world Belgium meets Bend history. The most notable piece of history is the Chef’s Table. The table seats 10 and was built from a 200 year old ponderosa pine tree taken from Drake park in Bend. Pete Servine from Northwest Modern was available to discuss this table, and the efforts it took to create and get it in place. Robin said the table was the entire reason she hired Servine. He built all of the custom furniture. Robin was inspired by a similar table she seen at Punch Bowl Social in Sacramento. Servine said he’d been waiting to complete this project for somebody for a long time.

The Chef’s Table, weighing in at around 3,000 pounds, is available by reservation

The table itself is merely a third of the actual log, but weights around 3,000 pounds and is about ten feet long. Nine guys struggled getting the table in place. The light fixture above it was carved out using chainsaws, then resin was poured into it, and the lights were added. The light weighs substantially less, but is still probably 300 pounds. The four cables holding the light are rated for 1,400 pounds each. This piece is breathtaking, and is the only table that requires an advanced reservation; those are coming in fast.

The arches and mushroom taps at the bar are also a sight to be seen. Another taste of Bend history hangs on a wall: two stained glass windows from the Old St. Francis School in downtown Bend, which is now a McMenamins.

A little Monkless Belgian Ales history: brewing began in 2014 on a one-barrel system at Todd and Robin Clement’s house. In fall 2016, the beer began coming out of the current brewing location, a ten-barrel brewhouse that has two ten-barrel fermentors, a ten-barrel bright tank, and 30- and 40-barrel unitanks. I asked Robin what the most difficult challenge was with opening their new Brasserie, and she simply said, “permitting.” Todd and Robin had been planning the Brasserie for some time before they finally pulled the trigger. Proper planning and hiring a well-trained chef have really paid off. The Monkless Brasserie is a much needed addition to Bend’s food scene.

A river view from the balcony at Monkless Brasserie
Heidi Howard
Heidi Howard

My name is Heidi Howard. I am a craft beer enthusiast turned freelance beer writer from beautiful, beer-centric Bend, Oregon. What makes me a worthy beer writer? I've been judging beer since 2015, and have LOTS of experience drinking craft beer. I have explored breweries all over the Country, from Washington to Florida and a bunch of places in between. I take the fun of craft beer very seriously! My goal in writing is to bring people into the craft beer world by explaining beer in a way that both newbie and experienced craft beer drinkers understand and enjoy.