When we were in Portland last week, we went to a newly opened restaurant with friends one evening. Irving Street Kitchen in the Pearl District. I loved it! The interior was warm and inviting, interesting decor that crossed the industrial-theme of the gentrified neighborhood and a farmhouse vibe. Really interesting and fun. I'd highly recommend it. Recycled barn wood on the walls, concrete floors, wine served in Mason jar "carafes", and candles in jars on the table (which totally reminded me of capturing fireflies in jars!). A casual but elegant feel.
The restaurant is housed in a remodeled warehouse building in what was once the industrial part of Portland, Oregon. I actually used to drive through this area every day on my way to work during my first job after college. The area has been converted into a live-work neighborhood in the last 20 years with lots of warehouses converted into retail/restaurant space on the street-level and condos on the upper levels. The Portland Streetcar system (electric - so quiet!) now makes twice hourly loops through downtown, the Pearl District, and Northwest Portland making all of these areas very easy to get around.
This restaurant is actually owned by the same owners of the successful Town Hall and Anchor & Hope (I've been there too!) restaurants in San Francisco. They ventured out of the Bay area and selected the Pearl District to open their next place. Lucky Portland! Their menu is interesting - a combination of the familiar farm-to-table theme, with some unexpected southern food influences.(Sorry for the dark photos! I wanted some photos of the food but refuse to use a flash so I won't bother other diners!)
While we waited for our friends to arrive, we sampled the artisan cheeses (all locally produced) and charcuturie (house-made). Very tasty! They served the cheese with a fig compote and house made rye crackers. I loved the combination of sweet, savory, and the creaminess of the cheeses.
The food magazine article I had read about Irving Street Kitchen mentioned specifically the butterscotch pudding dessert and so we ended our meal by sharing that. Very fun in that it was served in a little canning jar! All of the food here was wonderful. We sampled fresh green salads, perfectly prepared oysters, pork tenderloin and light fried organic chicken (a house specialty). All of their food come from LOCAL purveyors and farms. Everything was delicious!
One very unique aspect of this restaurant is their wine storage and serving system. They have several different wines "on tap" that they get in stainless steel "kegs" from the local Oregon wineries and then use a tap system to chill and serve the wines to keep them fresh. In the photo above you can see the stainless steel spigots that are used to dispense these "tap wines". We sampled a few Oregon whites and reds from this system and thought they were great. They could offer over 25 wines by the glass because of this tap system which keeps the wine fresh over a period of time.
We closed down the place that night and got to talk with the manager for awhile at the end of the evening. It's always fun to learn about a restauarant from the staff when they have time to chat. If I lived in this fun Portland neighborhood, Irving Street Kitchen would be my go-to place for a night out. It's wonderful!