Tag Archives: St. Jack

Plate and Pitchfork’s 10th Anniversary and Upcoming Events

6 Feb

Farm to Table Goodness with Plate & Pitchfork

Celebrated Plate & Pitchfork turning 10 a few weeks ago at Grochau Cellars and what a nice party ’twas, especially since we were introduced to some of our favorite new (and existing) culinary artisans:

The Sugar Cube was offering a birthday treat of “Citrus, Fennel-Nibby Financiers,” complex little chocolate-covered goodies showcasing the perfect balance of sweet and savory.

Bull Run Distillery – Now that’s some sippin’ vodka right there. Drinkable by straw. Smoooove with extra “o’s.” They were offering a delightful “Killer Bees” cocktail with agave, ginger syrup, and fresh lemon juice as well as a stunning “21st Century” with Creme de Cacao, Lillet Blanc, and fresh lemon juice. Um, yes, please.

Grochau Cellars offered up a nice Pinot and a Tempranillo-Syrah blend. As this is Pinot Country, it can be challenging to find good Syrah and Tempranillo, so was tickled pink with their “Tinto.”

Handmade pie from Lauretta Jean’s – Wow. These tasty little pecan pie-lettes included a generous sprinkling of sea salt, the result being appealing in a caramel-fleur-de-sel kind of way.

Profiteroles from St. Jack – Chocolate or Espresso. THE. BEST.PROFITEROLE.CREAMPUFFY.THINGS.EVER. Especially the espresso. Wow.

Candy bars from Beans and Bees – Their Honey Bar’s fluffy caramel, hazelnut and honey-nougat center had us drooling on the serving plate. No more! We cried…and then took two more.

Here’s more about Plate & Pitchfork from their website. I’m putting one of their “out-on-the-farm-meet-the-farmer-and-winemaker-dinners” on the bucket list. YES.

Plate & Pitchfork started nine years ago when founder Erika Polmar envisioned the simple idea of a meal where people shared a conversation focused on the amazing bounty grown by Oregon’s small family farmers. That small idea grew into a popular farm dinner series that reinforces the connection between the farm and food on your plate. Each summer farm dinner takes place in a field or vineyard and pairs a farmer with two local chefs and a winemaker. Menu items are inspired by the seasonal harvest and prepared on-site by the guest chefs. Every dinner begins with a farm tour to meet the farmer and get to know their agricultural practices.

Mission: Plate & Pitchfork’s mission is to reconnect eaters with the people who grow and prepare their food. Guests enjoy a tour led by their host farmer, and meet ranchers, fishermen, winemakers, and bakers whose products grace the table. Along the way, founder Erika Polmar hopes to make diners aware of the multiple economic and social benefits of eating local.

What’s New: Plate & Pitchfork will offer the 10th season of its popular summer farm dinners beginning mid July 2012 through the end of August. To celebrate this decade milestone, Erika has created some new events and trips to bring even more awareness to food issues and connect more people to local food artisans from chocolate makers to distillers, brewers and bakers.

Beneficiaries (The Fab Four): As Plate & Pitchfork kicks off its 10th season, the idea of giving back to the community has become an even greater focus. A portion of every ticket sale throughout the 2012 season will help four local non-profits do their best to fight hunger in Oregon and educate youth about farming and the environment.

  • Farmers Ending Hunger
  • Oregon Tilth’s Organic Education Center
  • Sauvie Island Center
  • Village Gardens/ Janus Food Works

ForkLift: The new winter series ForkLift will take guests behind the scenes with Portland’s culinary artisans to places like bakeries, roasteries, and distilleries where they will have a chance to roll of their sleeves and learn a bit about the craft before sitting down to a three-course dinner paired with beer, wine and spirits. The first dinner on February 12th is Outside the Chocolate Box with Scott Ketterman from Crown Paella and David Briggs from Xocotl de David at Milwaukie Kitchen & Wine. An April 29th dinner will begin with a bakery backstage tour at Grand Central Baking and dinner prepared by Dolen Lane of clarklewis.

Road & Raft Trip to Hells Canyon Recreation Area and Carman Ranch: Plate & Pitchfork and Winding Waters River Expeditions will travel to Eastern Oregon September 6-11, 2012 to explore rolling prairie, verdant valleys and timbered rangeland that is home to Carman Ranch and 6 Ranch. Tour the ranches and learn the art and science behind raising great beef exclusively on pasture. Rope a calf and enjoy a traditional branding style BBQ prepared by Portland chefs Benjamin Bettinger of Beaker & Flask and Jason Barwikowski of the Woodsman Tavern. After the ranch visit, guests will spend three days rafting in Hells Canyon, the deepest river gorge in North America. Enjoy more gourmet meals from Ben and Jason, along with the thrill of class III and IV whitewater adventure.

The Almanac Blog: The Plate & Pitchfork team has gathered a lot of culinary know-how throughout the past nine years and have launched a monthly blog called the Almanac. Columns like “Table Talk” will tackle tough food issues and “Cheats & Fakes” will reveal kitchen secrets. Also, monthly interviews with local chefs, winemakers and farmers will answer the questions you always wanted to ask yourself. The Almanac is written by Kelly Clarke, former Willamette Week Arts & Culture editor, blogger Lindsay Strannigan, and recovering restaurateur Ali Jepson.

2012 Dinners: The Plate & Pitchfork season will be announced in March 2012 detailing the entire line up of summer farm dinners. A few returning chefs include Vitaly Paley of Paley’s Place; Benjamin Bettinger of Beaker and Flask; Jasper Chen, Sarah Pliner, and Kat Whitehead of Aviary; Aaron Barnett of St. Jack; and Anthony Cafiero of Tabla. Wineries to include Domaine Drouhin, Andrew Rich and Chehalem Wines, along with farm partners Sauvie Island Organics., Viridian Farms and Sun Gold Farms.

About Erika: Plate & Pitchfork founder Erika Polmar has been building things for as long as she can remember – first with Crystal Climbers and now through technology or a good old-fashioned handshake. Erika has spent the last 20+ years in positions ranging from Santa’s Helper to pink-slip wielding acquisition manager to corporate spy. Somewhere in the midst of all that Plate & Pitchfork began as a summer project and nine years later, Erika is still building. Plate & Pitchfork has allowed her to hone a funky blend of culinary, technology and marketing expertise, while developing a keen awareness and understanding of the issues facing both the culinary & agricultural communities. She puts these skills to the test every day as she builds Plate & Pitchfork from a simple farm dinner series to an organization that brings complex issues to the fore so that together, as a community, we can create a healthy, economically viable and delicious place to live.


18 Date Night Restaurants – Portland

21 Jul

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Compiled by Molly Norton

It's Date Night in PDX!

Portland has more romantic restaurants per capita than any other city in the world. Ok, I just made that up, but it’s plausible. A few things are for certain: Portland does design, coziness, and low-lit ambiance really well and the prices (no sales tax) can’t be beat. Romance + supporting Oregon’s farmers, breweries, and wine makers = winning.

And here’s a quick link if you would like to support Oxfam’s donation drive addressing the East Africa drought and food crisis. OXFAM. They do good work.

Unless otherwise mentioned, these restaurants accept reservations (good to know if you’re paying a babysitter by the hour).

Top 18 Restaurants for Date Night  – PDX (note that these are just the tip of ye old iceberg)

Price Guide:
$ = Not too Spendy
$$ = Medium Spendy
$$$ = Spendy Spendy Spendy

Ava Gene’s (SE – Division/Clinton) – A 2013 recipient of Bon Appétit’s Best New Restaurant in America, Ava Gene’s never fails to impress. Bonus: they take reservations, but be sure to book well in advance. Ava Gene’s manages to be all things to all people; elegant without being stuffy, festive without being loud, culinarily creative without being pretentious. Menu changes daily and some of the ingredients may be a mystery, but with the help of the knowledgeable wait staff, you are guaranteed to find a dish (or two or three) that will make your taste buds sing. Focus is on interesting preparations of radically fresh vegetables (radical!), amazing cheese, and perfect charcuterie, but pescatarians and carnivores seeking hearty entrees will find much to delight in. The wine list is thoughtful and reasonably priced. The sommelier suggested an amazing bottle of Sardinian white wine – a bargain at only $39. Magic. (Food: Creative Italian. Price: $$$)

Pok Pok (SE – Division/Clinton) – Portland loves Pok Pok. Cozy, loungey, hip with interesting cocktails. Known for “Ike’s Wings” – spicy chicken wings and baby back ribs marinated in whiskey. Don’t miss the Khao Soi which has a little less heat than other offerings. They don’t take reservations, but if you have to wait, mitigate the pain by sampling the drinking vinegars or the Mango Alexander cocktail at sister bar Whiskey Soda Lounge. (Food: Thai/Vietnamese “street food”  Price: $)

St. Jack (NW Alphabet District) – We won’t lie – this place is going to transport you to Paris and you won’t have to deal with any public transportation strikes. It’s swoony romantic and cozy. Start your date off with one of the best happy hours in town and then move on to dinner. Salade Lyonnaise? Mussels? Charcuterie? Whole roasted trout? All wonderful. Just leave enough room for made-to-order Madeleines afterwards. (Food: French  Price: $$)

Roe (SE – Division) – Roe is the grand-dame of the romantic dining scene in Portland, but not in a stuffy or pretentious way. Their focus is on masterful, creative preparations of seafood. The atmosphere may transport you to Tokyo, New York, and Barcelona simultaneously. Go here if your dining partner appreciates “high art” cuisine as much as you do. And if it’s a really REALLY romantic occasion, go all the way with a wine pairing. (Food: Modern American seafood   Price: $$$$)

Beast (NE) – As the name implies, this restaurant will not pleaseth vegetarians. But if the thought of the perfect charcuterie and a selection of cheeses from Steve at Cheese Bar make you salivate, make reservations here. The tables are communal, but they still find a way to make the experience intimate. Chartcuterie and slow-cooked meats are usually the highlight of their set menu which includes both a cheese course AND dessert. (Food: Modern French Price: $$$)

Toro Bravo (NE) – Perfect place for unconventional small plates/tapas. Great atmosphere, festive buzz, always a crowd pleaser. Not sure how they manage to make every item on their huge menu manifest fresh and delicious, but they do. Try the griddled bacon dates in warm honey, the sautéed chard with a sunny side up egg, Steve’s Cheese Board (we dig cheese, ok?), or the “French Kisses.” If you do have to wait, have a drink at the Victorian era lounge Secret Society next door. (Food: Modern Spanish/Tapas Price: $$)

Ataula (NW) Want a taste of Catalan, but a trip to Barcelona isn’t in the budget this year? Get you and your date to Ataula in NW Portland. The good news is that every last detail is top-notch – from the beautiful vaulted ceiling with skylights to the lovely recycled glass bar to the small plates which are some of the best Portland has to offer. The not-so-good news is that they only accept reservations for parties of 6+. Get there early, enjoy a glass of sparkling cava or their oh-so-good sangria made with brandy and vanilla beans. Tuck into Ataula Montadito – silky salmon with truffle oil and marscapone on toast, pulpos, or fantastic croquetas. Don’t leave until you’ve tried dessert featuring freshly made hot donuts or chocolate with sea salt and olive oil. Now also doing brunch.  (Food: Creative tapas  Price: $$-$$$) 

Tabla (NE) – Bills themselves a Mediterranean Bistro. Their $28 3 course pre-fixe is a steal. The Tajarin with truffle butter and truffle “pearls” is the stuff of dreams. Sample all of the pastas – you pretty much can’t go wrong. (Food: Pacific NW meets the Mediterranean  Price: $$)

Veritable Quandary /VQ (Downtown) little spendy, but VQ has one of the nicest atrium and outdoor garden patio set-ups in town. The food is consistently terrific as are the cocktails and the wine list. Duck confit spring rolls; poached egg, smoked bacon & butter lettuce with crispy cornbread, house made fettuccine with prawns. Need we say more? (Food:  Modern “Northwest”  Price: $$$)

Andina (NW) – Festive and romantic. Interesting ceviche, tapas, and sangria. Try a Tortuga (gin with cucumber, mint, and lime) and enjoy the twinkling lights with your tasty tapas. (Food: Peruvian/Spanish Price: $$-$$$)

Levant (East Burnside/Buckman)- Note that Levant doesn’t take reservations for parties of less than 5, but you should plan for an early date night here any way. The neighborhood is charming, the atmosphere is exquisite, and the food some of the most interesting in Portland. Think tapas from the Middle East with French preparation and fragrant North African spices. Don’t miss artichokes with lamb bacon or the wildly addictive fried garbanzo beans with Za-atar. (Food: Inventive Middle Eastern/French/Tapas  Price: $$-$$$)

Irving Street Kitchen (Pearl) – Top-notch happy hour. Great vibe inside and out. Upscale Cajun meets creative comfort food. Entire menu rocks. Try everything. (Food: Upscale Cajun/Comfort  Price: $$-$$$)

Departure Lounge (Downtown inside the Nines hotel) – Go here if you’re interested in a rather sexy, “loungey” vibe with a dance beat. Some of the best views and Asian-fusion small plates in PDX. And Chef Gregory has vegan selections that will knock your socks off. (Food: Asian Fusion  Price: $$-$$$)

Le Pigeon (E. Burnside) – Cozy, quaint, and charming. The pork with cabbage, bacon, and mustard is moist and juicy. Cornbread cake with apricots and bacon is a wonderful sweet and savory finish to a meal. Because bacon really does make all things better. (Food: Modern French Price: $$-$$$)

Coppia (Pearl) – Terrific food and wine pairings – don’t miss the Bagna Càuda with a glass of Deltetto rose. Pastas are fresh made and topped with ridiculously tasty ragus. Great place for happy hour with a reasonable price-point. It also has a “vera nahhhce” date night vibe. (Food: Italian/Piedmont  Price: $$)

Brasserie Montmartre  (Downtown) – The red brick interior with indentations in the wall highlights the fact that the restaurant once was next to a jewelry store where an attempted robbery occurred. And they make the most of their history. Soaring ceilings, lots of light, a hopping happy hour, and live jazz make it a venue for a date with “buzz.” You might be tempted to kiss each of the black truffle frites with sel gris – they are that good. Everything from the tomato fennel soup to the charcuterie to the perfectly cooked pork loin to the buttery/garlicky escargot was wonderful. And that live jazz may just put you in a sentimental mood. (Food: French  Price $$$)

Portland City Grill (Downtown) – There isn’t much that beats the view from the US Bancorp Tower which makes it good for business dinners and special date nights. They do a nice job with salmon and have a pretty decent wine list. If on a budget, go during one of their two happy hours featuring asian-fusion small plates and piano jazz.  (Food: Steak/Seafood/Asian Fusion Price – $$$)

Gracies (in the Hotel deLuxe) (SW) Order the lovely lavender “Elizabeth Taylor” (Creme de Violette and champagne) and be transported to the Golden Era of Hollywood. Their pre-fixe menu is usually a pretty good deal. Retire to the elegantly retro Driftwood Room afterwards or see a show at Artists Repertory Theatre. (Food: Modern Northwest  Price: $$)

Mingo West (Beaverton) – If you find yourself on the West side, heading towards The Beav, check out the popular Caffe Mingo’s sister restaurant – Mingo West. It’s a larger place with indoor / outdoor seating — just as cozy as its urban sister and even nicer in the summer months. Penne al Sugo di Carne (beef braised in Chianti and espresso tossed with penne pasta) is outstanding, but everything you order will be perfectly grilled/seared/baked and full of flavor. Save room for prunes poached in nebbiolo, port and cinnamon with housemade mascarpone or olive cake with honeyed mascarpone. Leave feeling so full of epicurean gratitude, you pay the babysitter twice their normal rate.