Many of you have probably heard of Kenny (Ken’s Place) and Zuke (ExtraMSG.com). Now they are finally going a bit more upscale and opening a full time restaurant on the same block as The ACE Hotel at Stark and 10th, called Kenny & Zuke’s. It is on the same block where Nate Tilden from Castagna is opening the gastropub, Clyde Common, and Stumptown is opening a new branch.
Food from both restaurants will be available from room service in the hotel. About time someone opens a decent deli in this town; let’s hope they can pull if off.
Nostrana seems to be winning a lot of good press lately. First from Details November 2006 Magazine which lists their pizza as #11 under one of the “Nation’s finest works of coal-fired, mozzarella-slathered, crisp-doughed art“. Then Gayot comes along and lists the restaurant as “one of the top ten new restaurants in the nation“.
“Chef Cathy Whims, formerly of Genoa, has created a neighborhood spot that transports diners to an authentic Italian experience. The large, arched-ceiling dining room is generally filled with families, couples and large parties seated at well-spaced tables. The wood-fire is the heart of the place; the pizzas and most entrées are cooked by hardwood. Meat dishes are particularly successful, such as the rotisserie pork steak and Tuscan ribs served with borlotti beans, collards, and a sweet-and-sour onion relish. The affordable menu changes often to reflect local ingredients. The mostly Italian wine list offers an interesting and well-priced selection. The service is helpful, though sometimes slow. It’s best to just sit back and enjoy the ride.”
Interesting that they also mention the problems with service. When will someone stop by and deliver the FOH a clue.. Anyway, what’s next, will they be on Esquire’s top 10 list this year?
I usually avoid Portland Monthly, but after noticing November is their restaurant review 2006 issue, I picked it up. I have to say, I’m shocked. Unlike the rest of the magazine with its regrettable in/out/top 10 lists, and its tendency to fawn over advertisers,
It’s • Actually • Good.
Obviously this is due to the new dining editor, Camas Davis, most recently from Saveur Magazine.
“Whenever she’s eating out, she’s on the job, which means typically ordering Pellegrino instead of pinot to maintain focus, taking notes in the restroom so as not to attract attention (in an effort to preserve anonymity, she uses a pseudonym when making reservations and often pays with borrowed credit cars), coming home and writing about the meal while the details are still fresh instead of relaxing in front of the tube with a tumbler of whiskey.”
Catch me, I feel faint! I always said the reason I do this site is because there weren’t any good, anonymous reviewers in this town. Does this mean I can finally close the website? Does this mean I’m in love? Is Camas single? All these questions need to be answered. As if this isn’t enough, Portland Magazine had a real photographer, Susan Seubert take pictures of the food, and the results are excellent. Camas starts out naming “15 Restaurants That Are Changing the Way We Eat”, listing Alberta Oyster Bar & Grill, Giorgio’s, Murata, Park Kitchen, Hurley’s, Pix, APizza Scholls, Le Pigeon, Wong’s King Seafood, Navarre, Pok Pok, Alba Osteria, Ken’s Artisan Pizza, and Simpatica. This is a GREAT list, and there are only a few I would have left off. She gives Chef of the Year to Gabriel Rucker of Le Pigeon, someone I think will probably be a great choice in a few years, but isn’t close to it now. Overall, she gets the scene here, and her commentary on each restaurant is worth the $5.00 cost of the magazine. I haven’t had a chance to check her old reviews, but I’d love to see a complete one, rather than these capsule reviews. So far, I haven’t found one on the web.
I was hoping to link to their website, but it seems to be a sad little thing with no content. Kind of embarrassing actually.
I’ve been hearing around town that food bloggers are starting to be a real pain in the ass for restaurants. Not because they write about food, but because they are throwing their weight around with the old “do you know who I am” routine. It’s too bad, because they give all bloggers a bad name. I can’t imagine a real critic even saying who they are, let alone rubbing it in the face of an overworked maître d’. In my opinion, a good critic is as unmemorable as possible, doing nothing special to draw attention to themselves, except for maybe being extraordinarily polite (there is nothing like eating out every night to demonstrate what a hard job FOH people have). For those throwing their weight around, cut it out; no one is impressed. Your job is to write about food, not use your (very limited) power to get special treatment. To the person who has been going to restaurants saying he is Food Dude – I’ve told restaurants to take your picture. I will catch up with you, and I will kick your sorry ass.
For the record, Food Dude NEVER leaves a wake. A ghost in the night.
Food Dude says
Damn the luck! I’ll have to return to my search for Food dudette.
By the way, thin food critics can never be trusted ;)
Suds Sister says
“I’ll have to return to my search for Food dudette.”
I am just curious, at what point in the relationship do you reveal your secret identity? Do you take her aside after four dinners and say something like, “Honey, we need to talk. There’s something I’ve got to tell you.”?
Ladies, if you’re dating a guy who takes you to dinner and makes you order all of the apps, three entrees and four desserts…be suspicious! You could be dating Food Dude!
I agree with you about Camas take on their new restaurant issue. It’s to the point, informative, well written and professional. I’ll agree with you as well that it’s kind of fast to give Gabe Chef of the Year…even though he is talented and creative, I still don’t understand when people award “Something of the Year” so quickly…
But it’s so nice to see new places mentionned. We all know that Paley’s, Heathman, Higgins or Wildwood all have chefs that are fantastic, so let’s make room to the new guys.
Camas, however, is not so “anonymous”. She has been seen previously judging food contests, as well as to many food events. She sure is not as notorious as the O people, but a lot of chefs know her. You’re still the most anonymous of them all!
And sorry, FD, but she is not single! Very unfortunate as she is young, thin and very pretty!
So is Nostrana coal-fired or wood-fired? Only a couple hundred degrees difference there. Obviously the writer isn’t from NYC, or else he/she/it would pay attention to something like that.
As far as I know noone has claimed to be me. Though to be honest I wouldn’t guarantee it would get you better service.
I know a woman who works up there who claims to have set up two successful marriages. If you want her to fix you up, let me know.
Didn’t I post about the Details thing about 2 weeks ago? I knew you didn’t read all the comments.
Regarding the Portland Magazine list, I am glad some of the places received some recognition but Wongs, Hurleys, Apizza Schools, changing the way we eat? A bit hyperbolic.
Food Dude says
The sad thing is, that’s pretty much me.
Hunter, I think that was a different Details thing. This is the current issue.
“Changing the way we eat” is a bit silly. Given that assignment by an editor, I’m not sure where I would go either.
s- that’s the funniest response I’ve read all day ;)
not to be nitpicky, but the name of the magazine is Portland Monthly, not Portland Magazine, so the URL does make sense.
(But I agree that the website is lacking in content)
Food Dude says
I wasn’t complaining about the website address – I mean, look at mine! I just wanted to make sure people didn’t go to the wrong one.
Not sure what happened to my comment, but it looked like it disappeared….
Went to the Simpatica dinner on Saturday night. Spanish theme. There was an empty chair next to me and during the middle of the tapas course, a gentleman in a sports jacket sat down in that seat. During the conversation, it came out that he was a write for USA Today on assignment. He was checking out places in Portland to eat. I guess Simpatica made the list, so did Park Kitchen, Paley’s, and after the comments from our fellow diners, Le Pigeon.
Food Dude says
FoodGroupie, if it got picked up by my spam checker, it is possible I missed it and deleted your comment. Sorry. I’m getting hundreds a day, and sometimes I’ll miss one as I’m doing a quick skim.
Food Dude says
Yes, Eggstra is a joke. The real name will be Ken & Zuke’s. Geeze, stop the emails!
Food Dude says
“Do you actually check any of yhe stuff you write, or does it stem from some dream you have, or something. Or is it something you ate?”
I hear voices. I HEAR VOICES! That’s why I run the stories… Cause they are almost never wrong. I’ll have you know, I am totally resisting going with the “something I ate” route ;)
And um.. Duh! Eggstra & co… think about it. Okay, I’ll help. Eggstra sounds like Extra. No, still don’t get it? Eggstra = ExtraMSG. Geeze. If you bothered to read comment #11, you’d know that.
So, what I’d like to know is where you get your information? First, you write that LOW BBQ is no longer open. Wrong. Then you write this stuff about Kenny and Zuke’s at the Ace Hotel – which, byt the way, is at Stark between 10th and 11th – not 13th (wrong, again!). And while we are talking to the Ace people about possibly locating there, the deal is far from done and we are looking at other spots as well. And the name Eggstra and Co. – I’ve never heard that before until reading it here 5 minutes ago. As far as the future of Ken’s Place – there is no question being begged as there is no question at all at this point.
And we hav no investors at this point, so it’s hardly likely you’d know the identity of any of them, would it?
Do you actually check any of yhe stuff you write, or does it stem from some dream you have, or something. Or is it something you ate?
Food Dude says
Nancy, that’s what I thought – and I said all nice things. Go figure.
All publicity is good publicity
My my, someone nicturated in Ken’s Wheaties.
Chefken seems to get a little upset over imperfections. Meanwhile, the service I received at his restaurant was utterly abysmal. My wife and I moved into a place a few blocks away, and we were looking forward to trying his spot. We entered, waited at the front… no offer to be seated. We repeatedly made eye contact with the staff, who walked by and ignored us. Eventually Ken came to the front to talk with a customer who was about the leave. A few feet away from us, he made eye contact with us, but merely watched us stand there. Several minutes later, after 20 minutes of waiting, we finally bailed. Not one word was ever said to us. Completely pathetic. Possibly more pathetic of us to wait that long. We’ll never make another attempt. He obviously didn’t care about losing the business.
S Nelson says
My wife and I pass Ken’s Place all the time, and have planned to stop in. If this is the type of person he is, we have no interest in trying his food, or the food at “eggstra”. Too bad – as Food Dude says, we could use a good deli, but this is one we won’t be patronizing.
Pork Cop says
Petty and Ridiculous stuff. Sad.
While I liked Ken’s, my wife and I quit patronizing his establishment once he went into business with that pompous self promoter Zuke. My only interest in their deli is to see how long it takes before they kill it. With the industry average being around 6 months, I think Zuke can make it go bust around the 4 month mark. However, if they are looking for investors, I might be interested. I do need a good writeoff for 2k7.
Jesus…Is this site getting more and more like shamelessrestaurants every day or what? I just took Food Dude to task for prematurely printing things as facts that weren’t facts yet. Rightfully so, IMO, as any responsible journalist, mainstream or blogosphere. If you don’t agree with me on that, fine…refute what I say. But to attack my restaurant and future plans is pretty f’d up, don’t you think? And Lucas, whoever you are, that’s a pretty mean-spirited thing to say. It’s just my family’s future and everything I own riding on this project. But hey, glad you’re getting a good laugh out of our risks and future. Nice!
Perhaps Ken, it stems form the nasty way you chose to snipe rather than simply raising questions, e.g., “Do you actually check any of the stuff you write, or does it stem from some dream you have, or something. Or is it something you ate?”. You’re perpetuating what you allege to despise. And if you’re surprised that there are people out there that don’t like your place or your plans I don’t know what to tell you. Everyone has their opinions…..even you.
Has anyone tried the new Lovely Hula Hands? I never even made it to the old pink house, but I think I’m mildly obsessed with Troy McLarty’s comfort food skills from dinners at Ripe….therefore curious.
Mostly Running. says
Did I miss something? What’s going on with the Zuke bashing? And though I generally like Ken’s food, I loathe to agree with what he usually writes. In this case, however, he is spot-on in questioning Lucas. Lucas, WTF? If you are in the business I might understand a competitive nature, but if you were itb you wouldn’t go that far. If you are not, than you are just being [tempering] a jerk. No win situation buddy.
Food Dude says
Siobhan: I’m hearing Hula Hands is very nice, still rather intimate. The biggest complaint I’ve heard, is the space is rather feminine, making some men a bit uncomfortable .
The appropriate thing for chefken to have done to begin with was to email Food Dude privately.
JDG, you’re right. It would have been a more prudent course. Though in later emails FD hasn’t been very sympathetic or empathetic. That may be largely because of how I approached it initially, however.
But then, by the same measure, the appropriate thing for Food Dude to do would have been to email me and check his facts. Most days I return emails in less than a half hour since I work most of the time in front of a computer and he has both of my private email addresses. We also have multiple acquaintances in common who have my cell phone number. He would have received more accurate information and received more information.
Commenters here can choose to be sycophantic or fair. If they’re fair, I think they’ll recognize that FD wasn’t blameless.
I just hope we can get some good deli here in Portland. I tried the “Kenny & Zukes ” on the Saturday before the USC/Oregon game. Lets start by stating that I used to support Kens Homeplate in the Pearl. Not the best, but not the worst….better than Elephants.
The chopped liver was good. Was is Barney Greengrass? no, not enough, or no “schmaltz”. But the chopped liver was tasty. The heralded pastrami ( hyped by “the Oregonian” – for what that is worth ) was more a smoked, brined and peppered bar-b-que beef sandwich than pastrami. Now there was a guy wearing a “Katz’ Deli” t-shirt, ( he should know what pastrami tastes like, if he went to Katz’/Mecca ) that pastrami cant even be compared to Katz’ Deli. You can all get mad, and tell me to go back to New York, but east coast style New York deli pastrami that was not!
I hope they get it right for their new venture if they move. But Deli is tough to replicate. Even New Yorkers when they try Nate & Al’s ( LA version of deli ) – it just doesnt match Katz’, the Stage, Caranagie,hell even the Heathcote Deli ) Whats wrong? #1 the bread and bagels- not the same as New York ( whatever, the water, the pollution, ) not the same. Although I tried a pretty good rye bread and bagel made here in Oregon by a person whose name I think is Micheal Zusman ( he should open a business ) . # 2 lack of “schmaltz” – if you dont know what it is, you dont know the soul of Jewish deli. #3 the pickles, potato salad, cole slaw, & kihishes are different here. #4 Does anybody in Portland know how to make traditional “stuffed derma”? ( if you dont know, you havent eaten real deli) #5 Real delis have great Pastrami, Corned Beef, Brisket, Tongue, “Rare Roast Beef – Lean – Eye of the round” , and fresh turkey breast. Piled high at least 1/4 of a pound. With Russsian dressing and cole slaw, on rye. WIth a side of potato salad #6 Good hot dogs – at Katz’ most order a hot dog as an amuse bouche.
Anyway I hope Portland does get a good deli….we sure can use it…..Amoureuse ( or if I am at a deli, Dr. Browns cream or Black Cherry soda or a Fox’ U-Betcha, or Manahtten Special ( if you gotta ask, you dont know! )
I’m sorry that the pastrami was not to your liking. Most of our customers – a large percentage of whom are familiar with Katz’s and the better NY deli’s (of which I would never include Carnegie’s or Stage) – like ours a lot. It does have a very distinct and unique flavor to it, which a few people don’t like, and you’re certainly entitled to your opinion.
I am a bit puzzled by your comment that it “was more a smoked, brined and peppered bar-b-que beef sandwich than pastrami.” Isn’t pastrami, in fact, smoked, brined and peppered beef?
It’s interesting the wide range of opinions held by people, and their loyalties. We had a woman back in the early summer who railed against our pastrami, citing Hebrew National – a highly commercial, mediocre, character-less product used by probably 80% of the nation’s deli’s – as her ideal. Some have said ours is too smoky. Some not smokey enough. Many hold it up to an ideal of something they tasted 30 years ago. Same with our versions of Matzo Ball soup, chopped liver, etc. Idealized versions of things can die hard, and often are improved with age and distance. I remember Drake’s devil dogs (an East Coast hot-dog shaped chocolate sndwich-cake) as being delicious and a real treat. I tried one not too long ago and it was like cardboard and Crisco.
Our rye bread is Grand Central’s sour rye, and it’s the best we could find locally. We’ll be working with them in the new space to improve it, or we’ll bake our own. You mentioned that you didn’t like the bagels we use, but like the ones baked by Michael Zussman. They are, in fact, one and the same, and we’ll be partnering with Michael in the new space to bake them on premise, and with more variety. He’ll also be baking his bialies, which are terrific.
I think our pickles and knishes are as good as any in NY, or anywhere. Again, a matter of opinion. But there aren’t many deli’s anywhere that are still making their own. Still, that’s irrelevant if they’re not good.
I know how to make stuffed derma, and would make it for the deli if I had any indication that I would sell any of it, and not have to throw out 3/4 of it. We are a business, and Portland really isn’t stuffed derma central, and I don’t think we’d start a craze.
We are a “real deli,” but not a full-range one. We’ve never pretended to be, making it clear from day one that this was a one day a week, small scale deli that had, because of those limitations, a more limited menu. In the expanded version we’ll have all you mentioned – Corned Beef, Tongue, Roast Beef, Turkey, Hot Dogs, and so forth.
Also, we do, in fact, carry Dr. Brown’s Cel-ray, Cream, Black Cherry and Root Beer. Always have. And Egg Creams…U-Bet Syrup (not U-Betcha) is almost completely artificial and really pretty bad, even if it is “authentic.” Surely, with all the good chocolate around these days, the egg cream can survive an improvement (we use Dagoba). And by the way, you’d never see an egg cream (milk being non-Kosher) or a bagel (those belong in appetizing stores) in a “real” deli. But what the hell, this isn’t New York, and even many New York “real” deli’s have these things nowadays. We thought we’d include these things because, while not exactly authentic, it does beat opening separate stores just so one can experience these flavors.
This exchange between Amoureuse and Chefken is an interesting, funny, troubling one. It makes me oh so glad that I didn’t end up buying a restaurant even after many opportunities in Portland and Somona County, CA. I don’t think I would have survived the first week of criticism from patrons who think THEY know exactly how the business should be run.
In this case, you have Amoureuse responding with the Gold Standard of NYC Delis. I wonder if chefken really had a goal when opening the business to be just like the perfect NYC deli. Or, is he simply trying to bring some of the NYC deli experience to Portland? Will all patrons to chefken’s place expect the minute detail pointed out in this thread? Or, will they just want to check out the place to see how the food is?
I was spending time with the long time chef/owner of a local Italian restaurant this past Saturday night after a very busy night. He was explaining how a patron recently was telling him how HIS antipasti plate was not at all the the one SHE had in Italy in 2003! How dare he charge money for something that is not AUTHENTIC! Or how one patron complained about that small black char marks on a pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven. My friend just sighed and said “I just want people to like my food, to enjoy my restaurant and have a good time. Why do they think I can replicate a past experience exactly or somehow be the perfect meal to every palate?”
To clarify and comment just a bit:
1. Ken uses my bagels, but mostly they are frozen then thawed and reheated. This is because that’s the only way I can do it now and still practice law full time, among a few other activities that keep me busy.
2. The new deli will serve the same bagels fresh which should be satisfactory to most bagel aficionados. Some feel they are just as good frozen. I sort of doubt it (as your message suggests), but a good bagel is hard to find, so they go with mine anyway.
3. I am planning to oversee the baking operation @ K&Z in my spare time; I will not be a full-time baker (see #1, above). I am working on a variation of my current rye recipe to satisfy Ken’s requirements for a high-profile loaf. I may call Jesse Dodson for help. He groks rye. Yes, on bialys. Also, I want to see K&Z do Friday/Saturday challah. I have a pretty good recipe for it (a variation on the first bread I ever learned to bake more than 10 years ago) that ought to be nice–4 and 5 strands, turbans and star bursts. Maybe they will also do a few other little specialties of mine–cheddar cheese bread; maple oatmeal; “Grace Bread” (a recipe my daughter and I developed somewhat similar to challah, but egg-less), brioche and a few other rye variations (the usual amoreuse must have had; pumpernickel; seedless and dill).
4. I suggest everyone send Ken his/her favorite deli menu items for menu consideration. Ken, I keep forgetting to say you have to do a beef barley soup like my grandmother used to make (except please use salt).
5. Personally, I am a goddam sucker for their pastrami and have had Katz’s a few times. Don’t know how similar they are; don’t care. BTW, Ken f-ed up a pastrami the other day (oversmoked or something) until it was like a pastrami jerky. I took a big chunk home at a very reasonable price. I am announcing today my intention to convince Ken & Nick to sell this stuff–as pastrami jerky. It’s fun cuz you get to eat it twice–once normally, then again when you pick all the little shreds out of your teeth ;-)
Michael Zusman aka
I think that you bagels thawed are not quite as good as when they’re fresh. But they’re still 10X better than anything else in town, and as good as 90% of the bagels in NYC these days. Fresh they’re unbelievable.
And just to clarify – the jerky of which you speak, in the unlikely event we decide to sell it, will be the stuff before it’s chewed, not after you pick it out of your teeth. But thanks for grossing me out.
The exchange is interesting, in that for years I thought I’d never have another bagel like Eli’s in Matawan, NJ. Then on a recent trip back I had one and it was good, but nothing magical. Oh well, another childhood icon tarnished. On another recent trip back we hit John’s in Manhattan for pizza and it was good but not the be-all-end-all of pizza. The local pizza in NJ ranged from terrible to mediocre. I almost don’t need to ever go back. Wait, that’s not a bad thing.
Anyhow, I’ll put in my request, though this is on the part of my wife, who used to get this all the time at Ben’s deli in NYC and at Kenny & Ziggy’s in Houston (related to the Ken’s in LA I do believe):
So good it needs its own line.
Food Dude says
Amoureuse, I don’t think anyone took it that way. This is a good exchange of thoughts, and am glad you started the thread.
WOW, I stated that I had supported “Kens Home Plate”, I was hoping for a good east coast style deli. I never degraded the bagels at K&Z’s just said the best example I had ( in Oregon) was made by this Mike Zusman fellow. As for my opinion of the pastrami, it was just that. I also said I hoped they would iron stuff out at there new space…again hoping for good deli…no hate in my statement just opinion ( no name calling, no trash ) As for favorite deli recipes ( aside from the before mentioned sandwiches ) really good stuffed cabbage would be awesome.Peace and love….AMOUREUSE
Absolutly! In fact, I appreciate hearing a wide variety of opinions. Helps us hone the product and get it so it will appeal to the widest audince. Not everyone will like everything, but we hope everyone will like something. It’s just when you say “real deli” I think that can mean different things to different people. To some – me included – it means the NY deli’s I grew up on. But someone from Montreal might disagree.
By the way, stuffed cabbage is on our prototype menu for the new space!
Papa Soul says
Everyone has their own way of doing things, I alway’s say if you dont like it dont go! But dont bad mouth a place because it doesnt fit your idea of what it should be. Beside, the owner of that deli has been bad mouthing my place for years.
Maybe I’m misunderstanding, but are you saying I’ve been badmouthing your place? Which place is that?
Papa Soul says
Papa’s Soul Food Kitchen
Not only have I never badmouthed your restaurant, but I’ve never been there, never even heard of it, and haven’t th slightest idea where it is. Sounds interesting and I’d like to check it out. Then maybe I’ll have a chance not to like it. But you’re kind of putting the cart before the horse, Papa Soul.
Food Dude says
chefken, I thought I was out of the loop. I’ve never heard of it either. Wait a minute… I goggled it. Papa’s is in Eugene! ChefKen, you are even notorious down there?
Pork Cop says
Maybe Pops is just assuming that Ken won’t like it. Like…a preemptive rebuttal er somesuch……Google shows a place with a remarkably similar name in Eugene. That might explain it…..
No, I have.
The admonition that if you don’t like it don’t go is a good one. But these sites and criticism in general is meant to help people spend their dollars wisely.
Pork Cop says
Maybe he thinks Ken is Ken Kesey…
Food Dude says
Good god, he thinks Chef Ken is MSG. One of you should be terribly offended, but I’m not sure which one ;>)
Papa Soul, you’ll have to wait a few months before you can rip into their new restaurant.
Pork Cop says
You mean to say..they aren’t the same person? There goes my theory.
Damn, and I was thinking the same of you and Food Dude. Slow on the uptake, sometimes, I am.
Papa Soul says
I will never rip someone for making a living, I wish the best for him and his new Deli. I would love to go there and enjoy some of his good food. Its a tuff business and we chef’s should stick together.
Pork Cop says
Papa’s taking the high road. Good for him.
I stumbled upon your review simply because I was looking for info on Papa’s Soul Food restaurant. I was visiting people here and dined at Pap’s Soul Food Restaurant last night for the first time and you are are dead wrong on the barbecue. It is excellent, service was good and the ambience even better. I am with Pork Chop that I am happy Papa’s is taking the high road on this!
Mostly Running. says
I am so confused. Didn’t this thread die a cold yet sweet death?