Brendan Mahaney, owner of Eugene’s Belly restaurant, takes an innovative approach to his menu: bacon-wrapped, manchego-stuffed dates. Duck leg confit with sorrel puree and spaetzle. Grilled romaine with avocado and buttermilk-bleu cheese dressing. Are you salivating yet? These select items from the June 2011 menu are only a small assortment of what this restaurant has to offer. Mahaney is inspired by his love for cooking and his parent’s adoration of a great meal, and has fused these together to conceive his dishes. But act quickly, because the seasonal menu is a “juggling act,” lasting anywhere from a few months to just a few weeks.
Mahaney states that keeping the menu seasonal has always “been the goal”, but can sometimes prove to be a bit trickier than it seems. With French bistro style being such a rarity in the Eugene area, customers can easily find themselves falling in love with specific dishes, which may not be available regularly. It also makes things a bit more difficult for the kitchen, since keeping up with constant changes in routine can be a challenging hurdle to overcome.
As if you needed more proof on why Belly is such a hit, situated across from Eugene’s Fifth Street Public Market, besides being concerned with using seasonal ingredients to ensure the quality of the dishes, Mahaney also likes to keep things local. There are a few growers that he typically uses, displaying the loyalty and community-friendly vibe that other Eugene establishments try to adhere to. One such vendor is Creative Growers, a family farm in Eugene. Heirloom and European produce are their specialties, along with an overall love for the value and importance of tasty and fresh food.A delicious grilled romaine salad – part of Belly’s addictive bistro menu. I asked Brendan if there were any specific dishes they kept around for the French bistro-lovebirds. Without hesitation he answered, “The pork shoulder confit.” Mahaney still finds a way to spice up this regular dish by pairing it with a delicious seasonal fruit, or sweeter item. This month, the pork shoulder is paired with roasted cherries and crispy polenta.
Mahaney is passionate about what he does, and keeps notebooks to help him stir up his future dishes, serving as a reminder of his dedication to culinary excellence. Besides enjoying the act of cooking in general, Mahaney contributes his passion to his mother, who kept a garden in their backyard during his childhood. His father also traveled in Paris, leading to his knowledge of what a “good bistro” actually was. He considers himself to be very “fortunate.”
Belly is open Tuesday through Thursday, 5:30-9pm, and 5:30-10pm on Friday and Saturday. Also, check out their new taco nights, Sunday and Monday from 5:30 to 9pm.
- Belly Restaurant
- 291 E. 5th Avenue
- Eugene, Oregon 97401
- [mappress mapid=”7″]