21. Olympic Provisions – As unpretentious as the restaurant itself, the menu is quite small: a few simple starters such as raw oysters, olives and fried filberts, a couple of handsome salads, and above all an enormous bowl of soup. The pork and chickpea version is almost a light meal, and the potato-sorrel soup in a black pepper cream is hearty and yet, even in summer–especially this summer–not too heavy.
The entrées, though few, are superb. The star is the roast chicken, and you can get a half a fowl or, for only another five-spot, the whole shebang. Broiled in the rotisserie, the chicken is finished in a pan to give the skin extra crispness. It’s just as good as the Platonic version of this dish, served at Zuni’s in San Francisco. And like that great restaurant which threatens to make chickens an endangered species so many birds do they sell, O.P.’s comes with a good bread salad and a generous showering of bacon for smoke and salt. The whole chicken lies enticingly on the plate, a glory of golden crackle– delectable, moist, and bursting with flavor–light and dark parts cooked to equal perfection. Almost as good, the ribeye is a beautiful, elemental steak, and comes with seared romaine, and a showering of grana padano, a cheese similar to Parmiggiano-Reggiano but more grainy in texture and somewhat milder in taste; the ensemble is enhanced by a sprinkling of aged Balsamico for a nicely astringent experience. Romaine takes well to searing; it stands up nicely to fire and wilts just enough to drape over the steak, making you feel at once both happy and virtuous!
For a lighter meal, O.P. makes outstanding pastas, usually just one on any given night. They excel with unpretentious preparations, such as with a bowl of chitarra accompanied by nothing more elaborate than garlic, oil, fresh herbs, and breadcrumbs. Chitarra is a squared-strand, rough-textured pasta, made by extruding the dough through a machine with the same name—chitarra meaning “guitar” in Italian—a device that resembles a stringed instrument, perhaps more a zither than a guitar. The shape and surface of the strands allow ingredients to cling to them rather than slide off into the bottom of the bowl. I’m impressed as well by a deep dish of chorizo, clams, pickled peppers (yes, from that tongue-twister), garbanzos, and hunks of garlic bread to sop up the broth. With this Catalan-inspired recipe you see how rusticity is the name of the game here, yet there’s a good deal of care and attention to get the dishes just right. Simplicity is never simple. Roger Porter’s full review
- Address: 107 SE Washington St., Portland OR 97214 map
- Phone: (503) 954-3663
- Hours: Mon – Fri: Lunch, 11am–3pm, Dinner, 5pm–10pm. Weekend brunch 10am-3pm (kitchen closes 2:45pm)
- Address: 1632 NW Thurman St., Portland OR 97209 map (503) 894-8136
- Phone: (503) 954-3663
- Hours: Mon – Fri: Lunch, 11am–3pm, Dinner, 5pm–10pm. (kitchen closes 2:45pm)
- Website: OlympicProvisions.com
- Happy Hour: Tue-Sat: 3pm–6pm
- Reservation Policy:
- Noise Level: can be high when busy
- Price: moderate
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