New appetite at Oddfellow’s: Music venue hopes to turn spotlight on food, too

Since its opening last fall, Oddfellow’s Grill has mostly been known for “striving to keep live music alive in Redmond.”

Most nights, you can catch a pop, rock or blues band in the former dance hall and there’s a never a cover charge.

With a new chef, new menu and lunch and dinner specials, this ambitious bar and grill in one of Redmond’s oldest buildings is now seeking a spotlight on its food, too.

Actually, Chef Gabriel Spiel isn’t entirely new, explained Oddfellow’s owner John Comstock.

“He’s been here from the beginning, helping out, and is now at the top in the kitchen,” after the departure of a former business partner, said Comstock. “I put him in charge of a new menu. We didn’t know what we had. He’s really risen to the occasion — and he’s a local guy who lives in Redmond.”

Spiel grew up in Seattle and has lived in Redmond for a year-and-a-half. He said he loves that he can walk to work and is excited about the downtown building boom.

“We’ve still got the old town feel and new stuff, too. It’s nice to see all the new condos, going against the economic grain. It gives me a lot of hope — and people have got to eat,” he pointed out.

When challenged to revamp the “ho-hum” menu at Oddfellow’s, “I started thinking about customer feedback,” said Spiel. “I said, ‘We’ve got burgers, salads and soups.’ But dinner options were fairly limited.”

Now, beyond the usual bar food, there are options such as char-grilled asparagus with a smoked aioli glaze, Caprese salad, bacon-wrapped prawns, steaks, salmon and hand-battered cod.

“My cooking style is not super-complicated, but it’s all fresh, from scratch. That’s how my folks raised me,” said Spiel, who started his on-the-job training when his dad was the kitchen manager at Deluxe Bar and Grill on Capitol Hill.

“I grew up in the kitchen, started cooking scrambled eggs when I was three,” he proudly remarked. He also worked at Louisa’s Bakery and Cafe on Eastlake and at The Pike Brewing Company in Seattle “to learn how all the restaurant stuff works.”

After a few months at Oddfellow’s, Spiel observed, “People wanted more creative dinner entrees. And now the burgers are bigger and come with fries, while the prices are the same or lower.”

The burgers feature a half-pound of 100 percent Angus beef, served with lettuce, tomato and onion as well as fries. Cheese and other toppings are also available. A portobello burger and other veggie sandwiches, grilled chicken sandwiches and turkey with avocado and Havarti are also on the menu.

From 11 a.m.-4 p.m. daily, burger or sandwich combos cost between $6.50-$8.95.

Happy Hours with food and drink discounts follow from 4-6 p.m.

And on your birthday, you can show your ID to get a free lunch or dinner at Oddfellow’s.

“I like using seasonal ingredients,” Spiel added. “You get better quality and better value. I’m very big on that. It’s a little frustrating when you have to serve a tomato in the middle of February. We try to pay attention to the farmers and what is at its peak.”

Both Comstock and Spiel feel optimistic that restaurants will bounce back from a recent slump.

“During the downtime,” especially right around Christmas and the New Year, “people were really frugal with their money,” said Spiel.

“But people are loosening up more. They want to go out and have fun again.”

Working with the Greater Redmond Chamber of Commerce, joining the Microsoft Prime Card program, offering dining deals and handing out new “Born 2B Odd” bumper stickers are ways they’re connecting with new friends and customers.

Oddfellow’s Grill is located at 7979 Leary Way NE in Redmond.