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Comfort with a twist at new North Bend restaurant
Chef J Perry’s creative culinary journey has carried him a long way, from Europe to the Salish Lodge and Spa and Nordstrom’s flagship restaurant in downtown Seattle, and now back home to North Bend.
Perry is the man behind the menu at the new Riverbend Cafe, planning for a soft opening in June at the former location of Cascade Steak and Seafood Grill at Cascade Golf Course in North Bend.
For the new cafe’s menu, he envisions regional comfort foods with a local touch, such as braised shortribs with Washington cherries and creamy grits or clay pot shrimp served in a Washington porter beer sauce.
“I want to do comfort [food], but give it my own sense of appeal,” Perry said. “It’s nothing complex.”
Perry, who studied in France and Italy, said he wants to do his own twist on home cooking there, envisioning daily signature baked lasagnas.
“If I’m going to do Italian food, I want to do it true to what’s comfort culture there,” he said.
Learning the trade
Perry’s been around kitchens since he was a boy, growing up in San Diego. The youngest of three brothers, he used to wake up and cook for his family.
“I figured if I made them breakfast, I wouldn’t get beat up,” Perry said.
His culinary career began at age 15. He began working at a hotel, in the front of the house, but found himself drawn to cooking and taught himself how to cook.
“I started learning and studying on my own, asking the chef ‘How do you make that? What’s a reduction? What’s a shallot?’”
Perry spent time learning his trade in Italy and France, and learned European traditions along with the lingo.
“In order to work in restaurants, you have to learn the language.”
Perry worked for a time at the Salish Lodge, and was also part of Nordstrom’s restaurant arm, training as a chef but rising to general manager.
“Nordstrom’s taught me a lot,” he said. “It’s really building a relationship by giving quality customer service, being proud of the product you sell. Everything was based on treating your employees as your number one people, so they can really interact with and engage the customers.”
The Riverbend Cafe’s owners are working to give the restaurant a new look and more eye-catching potential out of doors. Patrons at the door are greeted by a heated arbor, and a new, well-lit sign and murals will compliment the outside of the building.
Plans call for new doors that can be opened to the outdoors, facing the golf course, during summer weather. Perry is installing taller nets to ensure diners don’t get a golf ball surprise in their soup.
The interior is getting a vintage look with a comforting style.
“We didn’t want to take away any of the history” of the restaurant, Perry said. “There’s nothing edgy. It’s just fun, something you might find in your home.”
Perry’s goals for the Riverbend Cafe are to build the best possible relationship with the North Bend community, through great service and quality food. He wants to “give them something that people are looking for these days.
“I just want to it be a really good restaurant,” Perry said. “We just want to make an impact on our community.”
• The Riverbend Cafe is located at 14303 436th Ave. S.E., North Bend.