A bold, unique player in the Portland pizza scene is opening a second restaurant across the river. Ranch Pizza, a Woodstock pizzeria known for its thick, chewy crust and tangy sides of ranch dressing, will expand to Northwest Portland this fall.
Willamette Week reports that the restaurant will take over the former 21st Avenue Bicycles in early October, splitting the space with Bentley’s Bagels. The menu is still under development, but if the original restaurant is any indication, the new pizzeria will specialize in its crispy, thick, bread-y pizzas, with toppings like pepperoni and basil.
Ranch’s decision to open on the west side is emblematic of two major themes in Portland’s culinary world. The first: Northwest Portland is continuing its campaign to be a serious restaurant neighborhood, attracting big names like XLB and Pine State Biscuits as well as new heat like Kashmiri counter service spot Bhuna and modern Jewish deli Beetroot. The second: Portland is in its golden age of pizza, with serious pizzerias like The Star and Montesacro opening on the west side and bespoke pizza cart Gracie’s opening a restaurant in St. Johns. What will be interesting to watch is how Ranch will play in Northwest Portland, now home to a handful of big-deal West Coast pizzerias. Ranch Northwest will open at 916 NW 21st Avenue; stay tuned.
NOTHING CONCRETE — Almost two weeks after the whole cement milkshake debacle, Willamette Week decided to challenge Portland Police and alt-right protesters’ claim that quick-drying cement may have been mixed into weaponized milkshakes during a June riot. The alt-weekly mixed Quikrete into vegan milkshakes and threw it at a mannequin, to see a) if you could even successfully mix quick-drying cement into a vegan milkshake and b) how different it would look from a cement-less vegan milkshake. The quick-drying cement did, in fact, mix into the milkshake, but it looked pretty different from the original beverage. It also didn’t dry, which, like, what a ripoff, Quikrete. The accompanying video, entitled “Milkshake Mythbusters,” is something to behold. [WWeek]
Gado Gado’s menu is loaded with dishes like fried chicken rice porridge, pandan bubble waffles, and blood sausage noodle soup
Gado Gado, the buzzy Indonesian-meets-Chinese-meets-Bostonian restaurant in the Hollywood District, will serve Malaysian-stuffed flatbread, veggie congee, and shrimp dumplings at its first brunch service this weekend.
The restaurant, which opened last month, started getting into the brunch world as a pop-up, selling dishes like the Indonesian rice porridge bubur ayam and bubbly puffed waffles out of Guilder cafe in Northeast Portland. Devotees will find a handful of those early brunch items on the restaurant’s opening menu. The rice porridge, infused with warm spices like nutmeg and clove, comes two ways: The bubur ayam arrives topped with fried chicken, pork floss, a quail egg, and a smattering of other accoutrement; vegetarians can stick to a veggie congee, which comes with fresh corn, blistered tomato, chickpea crisp, and a Chinese doughnut. The pandan bubble waffle, a sort of bubble-wrap-like sheet of waffle with Chinese origins, comes with whipped ricotta, sweetened condensed milk, Crunch Berries and real berries.
Still, most of the menu is brand-new, according to chef Thomas Pisha-Duffly. Instead of a breakfast sandwich, Gado Gado is taking its house-made roti and folding into a roti telur, a Malaysian stuffed flatbread with eggs, cheese, and spinach. The red-braised pork noodle soup is similar to a boat noodle, with blood sausage meatballs, pork belly, chewy yellow noodles, and smoked shank; on the somewhat lighter side of things, a sizzling crab noodle comes with a snow crab omelet, as well as a smattering of vegetables. Brunch will also serve as the debut of Gado Gado’s fried chicken. Marinated in a blend of coconut, lime leaves, and spices, the chicken arrives turmeric pickled vegetables with dipping sauce.
In true 21st century fashion, the restaurant also offers a smattering of toasts, but they’re anything but minimalist — all three start with a foundation of grilled white bread, but take a sharp right turn into the decadent. The Kaya toast — another original pop-up dish — is a “classic Singaporean breakfast,” in Pisha-Duffly’s words. He makes his own kaya, a coconut custard with fresh pandan, smothered over the bread with a fat pat of butter, served alongside a soft sous-vide egg and maple sweet soy. On the more savory side, the foie toast smears foie mousse with berry preserves and coconut herb butter, while the uni toast comes with a soft scramble of egg, uni, and coconut herb butter, slathered over squares of grilled toast.
The drink menu is staying pretty straightforward: Mimosas, available by the glass or carafe, and a bloody mary with lemongrass, galangal, and fish sauce. The restaurant will serve many of its dinner non-alcoholic and boozy cocktails, as well as Junior’s Roast Coffee, both drip and in a coffee-avocado blended drink.
Brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., possibly extending to 2 p.m. if all goes well. Check out the Gado Gado brunch menu below:
Fermenter will serve vegan lunches at the counter and to go
Farm Spirit’s casual offshoot, Fermenter, opens on Friday, July 26 with just four counter seats and take out for lunch. The cafe, with daily rotating dishes featuring house-fermented vegetables and vinegars, will take over the restaurant’s original Morrison location.
Last fall, Farm Spirit announced plans to move into a new, larger location, setting aside the original tasting counter restaurant for a low-key, fermentation-centric restaurant. Despite its miniature form, Fermenter is looking to capture the Farm Spirit, well, spirit, with a completely vegan menu sourcing ingredients from within 105 miles of the restaurant. The “for here” option will be a tasting menu priced around $20, changing day to day based on what chef and owner Aaron Adams has on hand. Diners can expect plates of grains, vegetables, and fruits, along with accoutrements made in house like miso, vinegars, nut cheeses. The tasting menu will also include a dessert, for those seeking something sweet to get through the day.
The take away menu will also change daily, featuring legume-topped grains, vegetables both fresh and fermented, and a choice of sauce including smoky or spicy. Diners staying in or grabbing something to go can also order drinks like house-made kombucha and other fermented sodas. Everything taken out will come in reusable containers with refundable deposits.
Initially, the restaurant will only be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; that being said, it will likely expand down the line. Fermenter will be located at at 1414 SE Morrison Street.
Baby Blue Pizza, a fully vegan pizza cart from a Gracie’s Apizza alum, will serve peach-covered pizzas with cart-made dough starting this week
Portland’s vegan pizza scene is getting even better. A new food cart is opening on SE Hawthorne, slinging meat-and-dairy-free pizzas with char-blistered, cart-made sourdough crust.
Baby Blue Pizza comes from Odie O’Connor, a vegan chef most recently spotted at rising star pizza cart Gracie’s Apizza. O’Connor started making vegan pizzas at home before transitioning into pop-ups, eventually deciding to open a cart himself. “I went vegan about four years ago, and when I did that, I felt like the vegan pizza options around town were a little lackluster,” O’Connor says. “That’s not a slight to any pizzeria, but it wasn’t anyone’s focus at that point.”
After leaving Gracie’s, he brought a souvenir with him: Some of Gracie’s owner Craig Melillo’s sourdough starter, which he uses as the foundation for his pizzas. “Some people think egg has to be in pizza dough, but that’s not the case,” O’Connor says. “Just water, salt, starter, and flour.”
The pies get spotted with char in a wood-fired oven, with toppings like house-made seitan pepperoni, house-made ricotta, and blended San Marzano tomato sauce. Beyond the cart’s six permanent pizzas, with names like Gringo Starr and Truffle Shuffle, O’Connor makes seasonal, rotating pies, including his already-popular peach and jalapeno pie.
Baby Blue has opened sporadically over the last week while training staff, but the cart will open for good on Sunday, July 14, right next door to the blazing-hot barbecue cart Matt’s BBQ Tacos. “They’re super meat-heavy, but they’re the reason we got in [to the pod],” O’Connor says. “It’s cool — this meat-centered cart helped out a vegan cart.”
Chef Jacob Harth opened Erizo in February, leaving the restaurant next door — Spanish stunner Bar Casa Vale — to pursue radically sustainable fine dining. He and chef de cuisine Nicholas Van Eck began serving seafood platters consisting of not only Oregon-local fish, but species that are overpopulating local bays, reefs, and ocean. Various bycatch — or seafood accidentally caught by fishing boats — find spots on weekly menus, as well as shellfish and seaweed harvested by Harth himself.
Eater’s Meghan McCarron described Erizo as “the first to bring Portland’s DIY approach to fishing in a meaningful way,” finding the restaurant not only politically interesting but culinarily noteworthy:
A dish of chopped-up local horse clam is fresh and sweet; the clam is abundant, but there is no commercial market for it, so the restaurant harvests their portion themselves. The geoduck is harvested by the Quinault tribe, who have the right to forage this luxury ingredient in the Pacific Northwest. Both arrived as part of the meal’s showstopper, a massive shellfish tray, which puts all others to shame for both beauty and inventiveness. By the time the final savory course — a colossal halibut collar with a soft pillow of parkerhouse rolls — arrives, sustainability doesn’t just sound like a worthwhile compromise.
The restaurant group has already closed two restaurants in the Portland area: Prime Rib & Chocolate Cake, a Lloyd District restaurant known for the aforementioned foods, and Portland Seafood Company in Tigard. The group has restaurants across six states, including Henry’s Tavern and Manzana in the Portland area.
Restaurants Unlimited, owned by private-equity firm Sun Capital Partners Inc., mentioned rising minimum wages along the West Coast in its bankruptcy filing — the restaurant group operates restaurants in several major West Coast cities, including San Francisco and Seattle. Outside of Portland, Restaurants Unlimited closed Palomino locations in Bellevue, Washington and Indianapolis, Henry’s Tavern in Plano, Texas, and Stanford’s in Walnut Creek, California.
Bar Dune will serve tequila, insects, and low-proof drinks near B-Side Tavern
Grasshoppers and tequila are coming to East Burnside.
It’s no biblical plague — just the incoming bar and restaurant from a team of Portland dining veterans. Along with agave spirits and the protein-packed insects, Bar Dune—coming this summer from Sizzle Pie creator Matthew Jacobson—will feature a full bar, a deep roster of no and low-proof drinks, and bites incorporating alternative proteins like grasshoppers.
Bar Dune’s menu is designed by seafood pop-up Gusto’s Kyle Christy, who previously spent time at the Northeast Portland wine bar Dame. Christy is still developing the menu, but he plans to serve several veggie-heavy bowls, small plates, and shareable snacks.
Jacobson said that the bar’s style is influenced by “the desert, mid-century design and a subtle hint of sci-fi.” Senior project coordinator Annie Brix is designing the space, and said that Bar Dune’s name and aesthetic grew from a chance shopping find. “The first conversation about the ‘vibe,’ of the bar was inspired by a large mid-century weaving that I saw a few years ago at The Good Mod and couldn’t get out of my head,” Brix said. “[The bar will be] warm and desert-y and perhaps/hopefully a little refined.”
Jacobson, Brix, and the rest of their team have been anxious to re-animate the space since a 2017 fire next door shuttered the previous business and saddled them with a slew of structural and permitting delays. Much remains unfinished: The team is still making decisions about menu, drinks, and design. Jacobson said that he is not yet ready to unveil drink menu specifics, but readers should stay tuned for updates. Bar Dune will open at 638 East Burnside, near B-side and the Doug Fir Lounge.
A longtime sushi chef and a Thai restaurant owner will open Poketo July 6
More raw fish is coming to Northeast Portland. A new NE Alberta poke bar opens Saturday with spicy Bigeye bowls, octopus poke, and $7 cocktails.
Poketo comes from Noon Panyachunsakunsuk and Chris Jones, two Portland-based industry vets. Jones once worked at the same Denver sushi restaurant as Nodoguro’s Ryan Roadhouse, but Portlanders may know him for his time at beloved Hillsboro Japanese restaurant Syun Izakaya. The two wanted to open something casual and healthy in their neighborhood, deciding on poke bowls.
Like many poke bars, Poketo offers customizable bowls: Customers choose a base of sushi rice, black, rice, quinoa, or mixed greens, then selecting a protein from a number of options — everything from bigeye tuna to Ora King salmon, with both the traditional marinated poke and un-marinated for the gluten-free. Mix-ins range from ogo seaweed to kale to edamame, with toppings like tamago, avocado, pickled ginger, and imitation crab. Every bowl also has an option of sauces, plus crunchy bits like lotus chips, shredded nori, or crispy shallots. The restaurant also offers designed bowls, including a spicy bigeye, octopus, and salmon.
Seafood sustainability is important to both Panyachunsakunsuk and Jones, so the two try to source fish caught somewhat humanely while also staying somewhat inexpensive; for instance, the restaurant’s bigeye and Ora King is caught using a longline method, considered more sustainable than fishing nets. Poke bowls never exceed $15, with most living in the $11 to $13 range. Drinks are similarly inexpensive, with tamarind whiskey cocktails and margaritas clocking in at $7.
The restaurant itself is colorful and vibrant, with floral-lined tables and pops of aquamarine around the space. The restaurant has a full bar with seating, as well as a chef’s counter, with communal tables and carnivorous plants littered throughout the dining room. Panyachunsakunsuk is serious about Poketo feeling relaxed: “If I want to wear my pajamas and get lunch, I can,” she says. “I want it to feel casual.” Poketo opens July 6 at 2525 NE Alberta Street.
Plus, two new happy hours with $5 snacks and drinks
It’s Friday, which means it’s time for the weekly Stuff Eater PDX Didn’t Cover column, also known as EaterWire. Sure, Eater PDX covered some stuff this holiday week — like a new St. Johns pizzeria and cement(less) milkshakes — but there were a few little news nuggets that never got their day on the homepage. Read on to learn about some brand-new happy hours, the ticket drop for Wild About Game, and a grocery worker strike in Portland.
PORTLAND GROCERY STRIKE — The Portland-area workers of the United Food and Commercial Workers union have voted to approve a strike against Albertsons, Fred Meyer, QFC, and Safeway. Basically, that means that — if the rest of the unit votes to approve it — grocery workers across Oregon and SW Washington can go on strike at any time. The grocery stores have been bargaining with workers, who are trying to improve wages and eliminate what they say is a significant pay gap between male and female workers at Fred Meyer (they claim it’s a $3.70 difference). Those in support of the workers can sign a petition of solidarity. [Official]
COME ON GET HAPPY — Two Portland restaurants, Tekka Bar and Pastini, have started new happy hours. The former, a restaurant specializing in sushi and hand rolls, is offering snacks for $3, $4, and $5 dollars, while Oregon Italian restaurant chain Pastini has an extensive menu of dishes in the $3 to $6 range, with $5 cocktails and glasses of wine. Tekka’s happy hour is daily from 3 to 6 p.m., while Pastini’s is available from 3 to 5:30 p.m. and 8 to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, as well as Fridays from 3 to 5:30 p.m. and 9 to 10 p.m. [EaterWire]
GETTING WILD — Wild About Game, the meaty battle of the chefs in the Mt. Hood area, is a favorite among Portland’s food community, and its tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 9. This year, chefs BJ Smith (Delores), AJ Voytko ( Terrane Italian Kitchen + Bar), Diane Lim (Revelry), and Matthew Jarrell (Imperial) will represent Portland, with advance tickets clocking in at $85 per person. [EaterWire]