I’m already getting emails asking about the Thanksgiving dinner roundup. Yes, I will be doing one this year – I’m already putting it together. If you want your restaurant event included, let me know soon, or you’ll miss one of my most popular posts of the year! While you are at it, feel free to fill out the holiday event form too.
I’ve been busy dealing with a lot of different issues, so am way behind on news. This will help catch you up on anything you may have missed.
Café Castagna has rolled out a brunch menu, to go along with their focus on Eastern Mediterranean food. Though they have some traditional items, this is not your normal Portland brunch, though many versions of these dishes can be found at Tasty n Sons/Alder. From the press release, “Chef Wesley Johnson plays free from the triumvirate of eggs, bacon and potatoes, putting the spotlight on farm fresh produce, aged cheese and traditional Middle Eastern dishes and breads. Main dishes include a leek frittata with dungeness crab, pita and hummus with sujuk sausages and the Arabic iconic shakshouka — a tomato stew with chilli, goat feta and poached egg”.
The dinner menu has lots of similar touches, such as grilled halloumi, flatbreads, and various Middle Eastern spices.
Tony Karam of Karam Lebanese restaurant has opened Zaatar, in the old Cafe Theobroma space (good riddance) on the bottom floor of The Gregory building in the Pearl. So far it is getting pretty good public reviews on Yelp. The original Karam was once quite good, so I have high hopes. Anyone been?
Between Gorham’s restaurants, Levant, Zaatar and now Café Castagna, we suddenly have an abundance of Mediterranean food.
The restaurant is at 1752 SE Hawthorne Blvd in Portland.
Always chasing that shiny red ball, we need something new to keep our attention. When I first moved to Portland, I kept complaining about the lack of good Russian food. Now we have Kachka which opened earlier this year. Even the New York Times has chimed in, saying it “does an admirable job of enlivening a cuisine known for its stodginess by combining Slavic-inspired fare with a typically Portland emphasis on quality, locally sourced ingredients.”
When I was about 16, my parents took the family to a Russian restaurant on Sunset Boulevard. I vaguely remember belly dancers, lots of hanging red drapes, sitting at low tables, and vodka, shots of which the waiter kept sneaking to me and my sisters. This is probably the reason I only have vague memories of the evening. We were very quiet on the drive home.
According to the Times article, Russian is the third-most-spoken language in Oregon. You learn something every day. Kachka is at 720 SE Grand Avenue. Be warned, it is very popular.
Grand Central Bakery has opened a new location in Woodstock, just east of Reed College. “At our cozy spot on 4412 S.E. Woodstock Blvd., you’ll find gorgeous sustainable wood detailing, natural finishes and, of course, all your favorite Grand Central breads, pastries, sandwiches and soups”. Think comfortable space with lots of blonde wood.
Have you ever heard of an Ortolan? It is a tiny bird which was once a prized course on French restaurant menus, considered an essential part of lavish dinner parties before it was banned due to fears of extinction. I think it was M.F.K Fisher who wrote about a glorious dinner which prominently featured the bird. From the NY Times, “… chef, Michel Guérard, says that one essential dish is missing: the ortolan, a tiny songbird that gourmands, including former President François Mitterrand, used to covet, consuming the head, bones and body in a single, steaming mouthful, while covering their faces with a white napkin to conceal the act.”
This has raised the ire of environmentalists, who are accusing the chefs of engineering this as a publicity stunt. To be sure, the treatment the birds endure at the hands of some is rather brutal – ” Poachers lure the ortolan into ground traps during its migratory flight from Northern Europe to Africa. Mr. Dubourg, the activist, said that because the birds are prized for their fat, they are kept in darkness for 21 days and are sometimes blinded, prompting them to gorge on millet and grapes. Once the ortolan’s fat has tripled in volume, the bird is drowned with Armagnac, plucked, roasted and served hot in its entirety.” It’s an interesting article.
Here is a quick news flash – KOBI5 TV in Medford is reporting that In-N-Out is finally coming to Oregon. “The City of Medford’s Planning Director, Jim Huber, said the popular chain has submitted a pre-application to the city to open a restaurant. He said it’s just one of a few steps in what could end up saving you a drive to Redding to eat at the burger joint.” Hmm. I foresee stopping in Medford for more than just gas on my trips to California. As of this point In-N-Out has officially met with city officials and is working with ODOT on a traffic plan – a good idea – the last time I stopped at their restaurant in Redding, traffic wound way down the street.
Pine State Biscuits has opened their third Portland location, a walk-up window at 125 N.E. Schuyler Street, daily, 7 am – 3 pm, with plans for night hours in the future. They will be sharing the space with Sizzle Pie and Reverend Nat’s Cidery & Taproom. If you’ve never had their biscuits, you’ve missed an essential Portland experience. Grab some next time you are at the big Portland Farmers Market – the line moves faster than you’d think.
According to Eater, a Sicilian restaurant will be taking over the former Fratelli space in the Pearl. Chef Francesco Inguaggiato, a native of Sicily plans a “Sicilian-focused small plates restaurant”. Opening is planned for 1st quarter 2015. No name yet.
Remember Paulee, the ill conceived Dundee restaurant that closed last year? Chef Sean Temple has landed at Accanto. According to the Oregonian, Sean has experience at Jean Georges in NYC, Paley’s Place and Alu among others.
Steve Acheff says
Kachka: We have been there a couple of times now and haven’t been disappointed. I grew up in a russian household in San Francisco where my immigrant grandmothers spent hours cooking up all sorts of russian goodies (and yechs). The food at Kachka so reminds me of my grandmothers cooking that it brings tears to my eyes. I’d really recommend Kachka for its food authenticity, great service, and of course, the vodka.