Elixir Winery Adds Fine Dining Experience

Friends and foodies in Central Oregon, get ready for a dining experience to remember.

 

The Chef who started Loyauté fine dining pop-up dinners is now a permanent fixture at Elixir Wine Co Bend. Josh Podwils has officially joined Elixir as their resident Chef. He’ll be serving his local, seasonal, and mindfully curated cuisine at the winery beginning May 15.

 

Chef delivers plate of microgreens salad to woman dining with a glass of wine.
Courtesy Bri Bender // Babe City Studio

 

If you were lucky enough to attend one of his dinners in the past, you know how exciting this is for food connoisseurs around the region. Podwils’ exclusive and intimate dinners, previously with limited dates, are now available every Friday and Saturday evening, indefinitely.

 

Each night, a single seating of 20-25 people will offer a curated 10-item menu. Wine pairings and suggestions will be offered by the glass or by the ounce. All wines will be chosen from Elixir’s expert staff and pulled from their cellar.

 

Three women cheers glass of Elixir chardonnay
Last year’s pop-up series at Elixir Wine Group.

 

Last summer’s dinners were so in demand, they often sold out weeks prior to their respective dates. And this year is no different. Before its official launch, Elixir already finds itself booked out for the next several weeks.

 

Small Portions, Big Flavor

I’m grateful to have attended a few of Podwils’ dinners. Most recently, joining a small party for a sample menu tasting. Each bite of Podwils’ cuisine is surprisingly satiating, with no need to over-indulge by volume. Fine dining experiences are about a journey and not scarfing down a huge entree. Smaller portions arrive at your table, full of umami and rich flavor. I often find that the larger the portion, the smaller the flavor.

 

For our first course, we started with seared scallops drizzled in parsley oil—flawlessly seared and served over a pancetta cream sauce. We moved onto Wagyu Tartare with 2 Sisters Ranch 100% Wagyu. Made with precision, the citrus and herb tartare was served alongside a grilled crostini, topped with a quail egg, and garnished with local microgreens.

 

Cutting into a seared scallop over prosciutto cream sauce
The perfect sear! Courtesy Bri Bend // Babe City Studio

 

For the salad course, we crunched on local microgreens delicately tossed with English cucumber, radish, and basil, and dressed in a dijon vinaigrette and lemon zest. So elegantly constructed, it requires culinary tweezers for serving! Our main course, paired with a house vintage, was served just as the sun began to settle into its golden hour.

 

Two glasses of Chardonnay cheers over a fine dining experience in Bend Oregon.
Chardonnay and Wagyu Tartare – a delight! Courtesy Bri Bender // Baby City Studio

 

While sipping on the 2017 Ermisch Pinot Noir, we grazed on duck confit ravioli. Three pockets of pasta were filled with prosciutto, black truffle, duck confit, and goat cheese agnolotti. The ravioli, drizzled with brown butter and sage cream sauce, was finished with a crumble of—chef’s kiss—crispy duck bacon.

 

Two plates of duck ravioli in front of the fire pit and a bottle of Pinot Noir.
Courtesy Bri Bender // Baby City Studio

 

Finally, as dusk set along Arizona Ave, we treated our palates to fresh raspberries over hazelnut tuile (a type of baked wafer) and topped with raspberry sauce and creme Anglaise. Perched in front of warming fire pits, we bid adieu to our hours-long evening while sipping on Menéres White Port.

 

Home Grown Bend

Podwils is a born-and-raised Bendite. He spent over 10 years curating the brunch menu for The Vic, where he thrived on transforming dinner food into breakfast dishes. He also spent many years working for establishments such as Lucky Woodsman, Oblivion Brewing, and—most recently—Brother Jon’s.

 

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Long table setup for farm to table brunch at Rainshadow Organics

But it was fine dining, and its French influences, that felt like home. He started cooking for private parties and hosting pop-up dinners across Central Oregon. In his approach, one word always came to mind—loyalty. As a Bend native, Podwils focuses on seasonal, local resources. His cooking pays homage to friends, family, local farms, and classic techniques. Staying loyal to his roots is a way to keep cooking with purpose.

 

Chef Podwills carefully adds truffle shavings to Wagyu tartare. Courtesy Bri Bender // Babe City Studio

 

Pairs Well With Wine

As a judge in Bite of Bend’s Top Chef competition in 2019, Kirk Ermisch was impressed with Podwils’ culinary skills. Elixir Wine Group’s owner and wine expert knew that Podwills had talent. “I offered Elixir’s kitchen on the spot,” Ermisch shares, after Podwils announced that he was seeking a venue to host dinners. With Ermisch’s experience and knowledge in wine, and Podwills’ passion for elevated cuisine, the two knew that they could make a great pair.

 

Ermisch has built his career around finding the best varietals on the planet. He opened Elixir Wine Group shortly after working for renowned Sonoma County vintners, Kendall-Jackson. He’s now a wine importer of 140 different wines from 35 different wineries across eight countries in South America, Europe, and the U.S.

 

Elixir imports specialty wines, like Bordeaux Blanc, from across the globe. Courtesy Bri Bender // Babe City Studio

Grape to Glass

Not only does he import wines, but he makes his own vintages as well. Elixir Wine Co, which operates under Elixir Wine Group, produces Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay using Willamette Valley and Walla Walla grown grapes. They also produce the wines for local wineries Lava Terrace and Redside Ranch. “We are the only winery 100% grape to glass in Central Oregon. We do not blend wines with purchased bulk wines and producing everything 100% on-premise,” according to Ermisch. Furthermore, he owns Bodega Calle winery in Mendoza, Argentina.

 

For the foreseeable future, the winery will be accepting reservations for 25 people per evening, with single reservation slot times. Tables will be spread out across Elixir’s prime Arizona Ave and Lava Rd corner location, complete with fire pit tables and the option to sip Champagne or Rosé at golden hour. You can make reservations by emailing josh@loyaute.org

 

Elixir Wine Group
11 NW Lava Rd, Bend, OR 97703
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