Portland restaurants go above and beyond during pandemic

Bar King

“I opened my dream restaurant on Monday and closed it on Friday,” says Shaun King, co-owner of the Asian-influenced Bar King in the Southeast, which debuted just before the restaurants closed. Since then, Shaun and his partner Jamie King have worked to bring the “Bar King Experience” to people’s homes. That means sending customers home with bouquets of wood and aromatic herbs that perfume your dining room and access their nightly Spotify playlist. The ultimate home show? Smoked eggplant, baked twice, stuffed with baba ghanoush and served with yeast flatbread that opens with a cinematic whiff on your table.

Stevens Italiano

Just before March 2020, Don Salamone was set to be crowned King of Portland’s classic hamburger revival, with a food cart, take-out window and a waiting Beaverton restaurant, all as Burger Stevens. But, says Salamone, “Burgers make terrible leftovers. »His solution? Dig deep into your family Sicilian roots and transformation into Italian comfort dinner operation. Rule of red sauce classics, with chicken cacciatore, rigatoni in its mother’s tomato sauce and thinly sliced ​​multi-layered eggplant parmesan. It is soprano food for anxious times.


The first clue that the coronavirus hasn’t killed the fun ethics of the long-simmering Malka restaurant project, run by chef Jessie Aron and her business partner Colin McArthur? The bubble machine, which pumps rainbow-colored spheres onto the faces of those who pick up the restaurant’s completely quirky take-out meals. The second is the name of each dish – at the moment, which doesn’t identify with “I have a lot of feelings,” a bowl of rice stuffed with green curried vegetables, shiny with miso-tahini coleslaw. and marinated ginger, and served with chickpea fritters?

Ava Gene’s, Tusk and Cicoria

Ideally for us, two of Portland’s best restaurants, Ava Gene’s and Tusk, are sisters of Submarine Hospitality.
label. This means you can order a decadent porchetta pork shoulder and a smooth chickpea and coconut curry with just one click. And, because there can never be enough pizza during a pandemic, the juggernaut hotel group set up the deck oven early in Cicoria, its pizzeria that was originally slated to open later this summer, offering party-style pies. tavern with a thin charred crust and a hit of gravy just right.

The communion bakehouse

Chef Ryan Ostler and pastry specialist Katharine Zacher have horrible timing when it comes to opening restaurants, having championed avant-garde snacks, Texan barbecue and Thai beef brisket mixes long before they came out. ‘they are not cool. This pretty Westmoreland cafe, which opened in late 2019, isn’t doing much better. However, they made lemonade with Zacher’s exquisite pastries, a highlight of their pre-COVID menu. During closing you can order pastry boxes full of handmade marzipan pies, sticky monkey bread, and bacon palms. Basque style cheesecake, six inches of creamy indulgence, is one of the best in a trend that seems invincible, even in these weird times.

Olympia arrangements

A food emergency? Call the Ambulance. Olympia Provisions co-founder and deli pioneer Elias Cairo drove a bright red “Rollin ‘Pantry” truck around Portland while blasting ice cream jingles to deliver cold cuts, beer and sandwiches to ice cream during the first two weeks of the pandemic. Nowadays, you have to order in advance to win a visit to the Ambulance and its pantry of Hazelnut sausage, pork-pistachio pate and CSA-style vegetables from OP’s favorite farms. For Father’s Day, you can order meal kits complete with the essential ingredients for everything from grilled sausage to sandwiches.

Proud mary

This eternal pandemic brunch’s response is to overtake Australia. Proud Mary, whose coffee roots hail from Melbourne, has taken seriously what she calls ‘cabinet food’ – quick-to-go lunches from Down Under – including delicate sausage rolls wrapped in puff pastry. , curry pies and vegetable pies. You can also purchase DIY brunch kits, which include all of the NE Alberta Street boutique’s biggest hits: charcoal and passion fruit pavlova, chunky hash potatoes, and ricotta buns. Everything is sold in Proud Mary’s new glass barricade coffee sale window, designed for maximum safety as it is used to quickly pour out old-fashioned varietals. fiermarycoffee.com


We think it’s wonderful that you can order Minced BBQ Fried Rice, Sweet and Sour Fried Chicken, and Breast Tip Coconut Curry to take away at our Restaurant of the Year 2019. But what really takes Eem to the next level is its tropical cocktail program, bar co-owner and vet Eric Nelson. During the pandemic, he shares his secrets behind the public bar with ingredients and bottled recipes: you too can mix an Eem Pina Colada with “Thai Spirit”, pineapple, coffee, cream. whipped with coconut and bee pollen. Just add rum. Low-resistance full-body cocktails, like tropical sherry and vermouth slushies, are on the way.


Owner Aaron Adams is all about the radical transformation. Part of its new global model included scrapping Fermenter’s long meal counter for a massive case of vegan deli meats, one of the most ambitious in town. Among its offers: a pinch of marinated tempeh, miso iced BBQ; endless jars of pickles; Vegan “meats” and “charcuterie”; and several nut-based cheeses. You’ll always find the crowd favorite, “The Bowl,” a concentrate of quinoa, sauerkraut, kale salad, roasted roots, cumin galore and succulent Rio Rojo beans. DIYers can try their hand at fermentation, with the intention of unveiling kombucha and sourdough kits.

Shizuku by Chef Naoko

Chef Naoko, a cult Japanese farm-to-table icon, has been offering take-out food on a large scale for years: she supplies Delta Airlines direct flights from PDX to Japan with her mosaic bento boxes, silky wild salmon with juicy pork tonkatsu. Now, using an industrial blast chiller, Naoko has started selling frozen family packs: three meals, two servings each, for $ 100. Wondering how to warm up those succulent oatmeal pork shumai? Check out Naoko’s YouTube channel for an introduction. We often joke that his cooking is a food you could eat every day. Now you really can.

Hear Karen Brooks and Katherine Chew Hamilton discuss the changing food scene in response to the protests and the pandemic.

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Sandy A. Greer