Comfort Food 

Eugenio's Bumps Up to "Bistro"

choose your own adventure

Up ahead—what's that?!—a massive saber-toothed tiger is lying in a clearing, playing with what looks to be some prehistoric type of catnip! What a delightful sight! But then—THUD! THUD! THUD!—the earth shakes beneath your sneakers, and a massive tyrannosaur charges out of the nearby trees! You dive behind a rock, and peek over it just in time to see the tyrannosaur charge!

The tyrannosaur sinks its teeth into the soft side of the saber-toothed tiger, and, as the giant cat sinks to the ground, begins his feast. "Weird," you think to yourself. "I thought saber-toothed tigers didn't evolve until several million years after the dinosaurs." But such nitpicking is horsefeathered and rapscallioned when you notice something inside the tiger's torn-open chest cavity—a glistening heart! Just what Fang needs!

Just then, the tyrannosaur opens its mouth and lets out a tremendous bellow. It almost sounds like... a yawn? Sure enough, the tyrannosaur, exhausted from his gorging, takes a few steps back from his meal, and awkwardly lays down. Soon, his eyes close, his breath grows deep and steady, and his massive right leg—which is the size of a tree—begins to twitch as he dreams. Here's your chance to grab the saber-toothed tiger's heart!

You slowly sneak past the snoring dinosaur, and find yourself right next to the dead saber-toothed tiger. You set the gun Smitty gave you down on the grass nearby, and with a disgusting squelch, you sink your hands into the prehistoric cat's still-warm organs, your fingers closing around the heart. With a yank, you pull the heart free, and you smile as you realize your adventure is nearly complete!

Just then, you hear a snort behind you. Glancing over your shoulder, you see that the tyrannosaur is stirring!

Do you grab the gun and try to shoot the tyrannosaur? click here

Do you crawl into the saber-toothed tiger's bloody, reeking chest cavity, hoping the tyrannosaur won't see you?click here

To go back, click here.

After three years as strictly a dry goods 'n' sandwich shop, Division's Eugenio's announced in January it would transform into a full-on bistro. Candles and extra stools were placed, dinner specials were incorporated, and the hours were extended through 9 pm. The place is no less tiny—there's room in there for about 12-15 people, tops, and the two-burner stovetop and kitchen space look only slightly more accommodating than your average food cart—but somehow it never feels claustrophobic, even when it's full. Old-fashioned knick-knacks hang from the ceilings and walls, and the big front window has a frosted look, like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Ambience-wise, eateries don't get much quainter.

Food-wise, Eugenio's is as traditional as it looks. The sandwich selection includes items like the Indigo Club sandwich with smoked ham, egg, chicken, lettuce, tomato, and mustard, and even more standard fare like a PB&J and a Toasted Cheezie with Tillamook cheddar. Eugenio's cuisine isn't dazzling, but it's comforting. The Ultron Get-A-Long is basically a spaghetti and meatballs sandwich, with a heart-stopping three different meats stuffed into a hoagie roll. The Di Carlo Sausage Sandwich, my personal favorite, features a tenderly cooked hunk of sausage draped in sweet mustard, caramelized onions, and peppers. The sausage had succulent hints of garlic to it, a savory element counterbalanced perfectly by the sweet veggie accoutrements.

In an interview with the Oregonian last month, Eugenio's owner, Eugene Gray, stated that he made the transition from pure deli to bistro because "customers were much more interested in the made-to-order menu than in shopping to cook at home." I have to wonder what kind of people were so adamantly fond of the food at Eugenio's that Gray was resigned to convert his business to a full-on restaurant. Because, more than any place I've eaten out at in recent memory, Eugenio's dishes resemble something I could make myself. It's all well and good, but it's extremely basic. The egg salad sandwich, for example, had no detectable additional flavor outside of egg and some mustard, and came on rather plain white bread with lettuce and tomato. With none of its entrees clocking in at more than $7 (the admittedly much more interesting nightly dinner specials, like pork loin and braised elk, being a notable exception), it's not like Eugenio's is trying to front or anything, but even so, I find it hard to shell out a preparation fee for something I could so easily prepare in my own house.

So, I wouldn't get take-out from Eugenio's, though I would buy some of its specialty meats and cheeses and try to make them myself. I would also not mind dining there from time to time, to soak up the lovely atmosphere and also to eat one of the delicious mini thin-crust pizzas. There are also good microbrews on tap, and a pretty decent wine selection. Much like my mom's kitchen, I feel at home at Eugenio's; the only difference is that my mom's a much better cook, and I don't have to pay to eat there.

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