The highly anticipated Mediterranean Exploration Company, a third restaurant by John Gorham of Tasty N. Sons/Alder and perennial reader favorite, Toro Bravo, is almost ready to open. This is my favorite cuisine, so I’m bouncing up and down in my chair.
Rather than summarize, here is the press release in its entirety.
Renowned Restaurateur John Gorham and Executive Chef Kasey Mills Open Doors to Culinary Travels From Cuisines of Spain to Turkey
Soft Open Starting July 16th, Limited Hours
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Mediterranean Exploration Company (M.E.C.), the new restaurant serving innovative cuisine from the eastern Mediterranean and beyond headed by Executive Chef Kasey Mills and Portland restaurateur, John Gorham of Toro Bravo, Tasty n Sons and Tasty n Alder, will open August 1, 2014, it was announced today. The new Pearl District restaurant will begin with a soft opening starting July 16th – July 31st, Wednesdays through Sundays from 5:30pm-10pm. Drawing from extensive research and travels to Israel and its surrounding areas, the menu will feature exceptional plates that are culturally diverse yet cohesive, paying tribute to the exploration of people across the Mediterranean throughout history. In an open and vibrant atmosphere with an industrial-meets-refined décor in Portland’s Pearl District, M.E.C. will encourage family-style dining and feature a playful beverage program with nods to the flavors of the Mediterranean.
“At M.E.C. we are exploring the extreme diversity of the food culture of this region. You really can’t pigeonhole it and call it one type of cuisine and that’s what makes it interesting,” said Gorham. “M.E.C. is a restaurant with no geographic borders, exploring food inspired by our travels and the food of regions like Turkey, North Africa and Israel.”
Encouraging family style dining, the menu is broken into five sections: Mezza, Oven, Grill (featuring a wood assist gas grill), Piato, and Plancha. Mezza focuses heavily on crudo, carpaccio, vegetable, and fish dishes from Greece and North Africa with homemade lebneh, fried smelt, anchovies, and octopus. Homemade breads and pita come from the oven. Grilled dishes include lamb chops, octopus, kebabs, grilled breads, Kaftas. Piato specials include Hummus and Lamb Ragu, Eastern-Style Fried Chicken, Frikkah, and Sweet and Sour Brisket. Plancha section features Calamari, Couscous, and House Made Gyro.
The cocktails will explore the flavors of the Mediterranean with ingredients like figs, dates, rose water, and honey. Bar Manager Jamal Hassan plans to custom make liqueurs, syrups, and bitters to match M.E.C.’s cuisine. Early drinks include a martini with harissa bitters, as well as a daiquiri sweetened with dates and finished with rose water. Hassan will also implement an ambitious ice program, including both crushed ice and hand cut crystal clear cubes. The wine program, led by Mindy Cook, will showcase wines from around the coastlines of France, Italy, Spain, Greece and Lebanon highlighting the Mediterranean islands of Corsica, Sardinia and the Canary Islands. In addition, M.E.C. will offer local Oregon wines made with Mediterranean varietals.
John Gorham is co-owner and executive chef of iconic Portland restaurants Toro Bravo, Tasty n Sons, Tasty n Alder, and now Mediterranean Exploration Company. Gorham believes that a chef’s cuisine and style is influenced by a trade route composed of travels, past work, cities lived in, and foods their family made growing up. Gorham celebrates a range of global cuisines at his celebrated, influential restaurants; each with a unique identity but all embodying the quintessential Portland dining experience of family-style dishes, house-made charcuterie and seasonal sustainably-sourced ingredients.
Executive Chef and Co-Owner Kasey Mills moved to Portland, Oregon from South Dakota in 2001 to attend culinary school and immediately began working six days a week while taking classes, working his way up the ranks at well regarded restaurants in the area including the original McCormick and Schmick’s, Oba, Fratelli, and Fenouil. When he heard John Gorham was planning to open a new Spanish restaurant, he introduced himself and was offered the job of sous chef of Toro Bravo. He worked directly under Gorham for three years before being promoted chef de cuisine. After seven years at Toro Bravo, Mills opens M.E.C as a co-owner with Gorham. The two have become like brothers in their time in the kitchen trenches and their travels to Israel and the surrounding area for menu research.
Located at 333 NW 13th Avenue in Portland’s NW Pearl District, M.E.C. will be a wide-open space with a vibrant atmosphere. Decorated in an industrial-meets-refined style, white tiles and beautiful rubber wood chairs with industrial windows and original walls helpcelebrate the building’s history. The dining room seats 60, with 18 at the open kitchen, and an additional 18 at the bar. M.E.C. will be open Sunday–Thursday 4pm-10pm and Friday and Saturday 4pm-midnight.
About Mediterranean Exploration Company
Mediterranean Exploration Company (M.E.C.) is a Portland, Oregon restaurant serving innovative cuisine from the eastern Mediterranean and beyond. M.E.C. will open in August 2014 headed by Executive Chef Kasey Mills and Portland restaurateur, John Gorham of Toro Bravo, Tasty n Sons and Tasty n Alder. Drawing from extensive research and travels to Israel and surrounding areas, the menu will feature exceptional plates that are culturally diverse yet cohesive, paying tribute to the exploration of people across the Mediterranean throughout history. In an open and vibrant atmosphere with an industrial-meets-refined décor in Portland’s Pearl District, M.E.C. encourages family-style dining and features a playful beverage program with nods to the flavors of the Mediterranean. Reservations can be made at 503-222-0906. Please find them online at Mediterranean Exploration Company.