Bread & Brew: Eateries go with takeout, pickup
As everybody knows, all restaurants have taken a big hit during our health and economic crisis, and all of them could use support.
Since the abrupt shuttering of Portland's much-loved restaurants because of the spread of coronavirus/COVID-19, and forced to relieve much of their hardworking service staff, Portland's chefs pivoted and adapted to keep their burners on.
Adjusting to the new landscape, many Portland restaurants now offer takeout, drive-up, pickup and delivery for patrons to continue to enjoy their food and to try to stay afloat in an unforgiving economy (at the moment).
Again, the more people support their favorite restaurants, the better they'll be able to survive.
The Oregonian and OregonLive, which the Tribune has cooperated with during this crisis, has been keeping a tab on which restaurants remain open for takeout business. It can be found here:
The Tribune takes a look at some of the eateries still open and how they've adapted:
• The Waiting Room, a two-story spot tucked inside a Victorian house in Northwest Portland, is also where former Portland Trail Blazer Bill Walton once lived in the days he roamed the area.
The low-key restaurant is famous for crispy fried chicken, Champagne and oysters. And like Walton, it's always expressed a kind of oddball fun. But like many Portland restaurant owners, Kyle Rourke had to suddenly lay off his entire staff last week. Now he cooks solo in the kitchen and his wife, who recently closed her floral business, takes orders by phone.
"We made a simple fried chicken takeout menu last Tuesday," said Rourke, who knew right away that he wanted to use his kitchen "to get food to people who are needing it," post-coronavirus. A key economic fact is that people will be food insecure as they lose jobs.
To that end, Rourke has been donating one meal for every meal purchased. "The phone's been ringing," he said. "And the stories are heartbreaking," such as a woman with a family of four and a disabled husband.
This week's take-out menu will feature ribs. Rourke hopes to again offer a free meal with each one bought and make that meal available to first responders, hospital workers and firemen.
• Urdaneta is a chef-driven restaurant that delivers the flavors of Basque to Northeast Alberta Street. Since the order came to close, owner Javier Canteras is offering curbside pickup and staff-led delivery. Favorites like Basque cheesecake and hand-carved jamon live on, alongside new dishes like Chorizo in Sidra Bocadillo done in a French Dip style. For the first time, they're making a burger.
"We're adding things that transport easier and are a bit easier to make," said Canteras. "We're doing our take on a tuna melt and baguette sandwiches called bocadillos made with ingredients like manchego and ham."
These are tasty and transportable sandwiches like you'd see people carrying as they walk down the street in Spain, he said. Canteras is originally from Bilbao in the Basque region of Spain, where eating is a national pastime.
"We're doing what we need to do for now," said Canteras of his restaurant's response to the health/economic crisis. Following the closure, he did what each bar and restaurant-owner across Portland had to do: weighed painful options.
"We all sat down together and went over each person's living situation and asked, 'Do we temporarily lay you off so that you can receive unemployment, or do you need the work to survive right now?' It came down to who needed to work, versus who might be OK at home for a while," he said.
Meanwhile, a new table sits outside Urdaneta, where completed orders can be picked up.
"I'm cooking with gloves on," said Canteras. "My wife is packing orders with gloves on." When they see a customer approach "we greet them politely and put the food on the table with proper distance, and they pick up the food by themselves."
The social distance and latex gloves go against the warmth that cooking and sharing food is fundamentally about, but like everyone, Canteras takes new protocols to stop the spread seriously.
In spite of such distance "we noticed after our first night of take-out that people are being very, very gracious with their tipping." All the tips go to a fund for out-of-work Urdaneta staff.
Naturally, there are many worries about what might unfold, he said. "For now we're doing what we can to provide for people who can't go out to grocery stores. We need to do our proper duties in hard times and make sacrifices. That might eventually mean we all have rice and beans at home for a while."
• Sila Thai is a Thai food cart on North Lombard Street that is famous for seasonal curries and its use of Grade A vegetables. Dishes are made with flair and personality by the much-adored Moon, who, if you are lucky, will text you directly. The peach curry is a special favorite of regulars. All orders are to go. Info: Sila Thai's Facebook page.
• Rally Pizza in Vancouver, Washington, will keeps the pies flying via DoorDash and online ordering for in-store pickup. Executive Chef Alan Maniscalco and General Manager and Pastry Chef Shan Wickham are the husband-and-wife duo behind the exceptional Neapolitan-style pizzas and creative frozen custards. Customers can order online and pickup in-store at no additional fee. Info: www.rallypizza.com.
• Now's the time for esprit de corps. The charismatic neighborhood bistro Normandie prepares dishes overflowing with warmth, creativity and French sensibility via their curbside window pickup. Order by calling the restaurant. The to-go menu, which includes Parisienne Gnocchi with Crab and the Burger on Brioche stacked with crispy onion rings, is actively updated and listed on their website. Info: www.normandiepdx.com.
• Carne on Northeast Broadway keeps the flame a-goin' with a new front patio grill and sidewalk pickup. It serves up fun family dinner packs as well as smaller kits that include grilled sausages, ensalada mista, Frijoles Negros, and Saffron Rice. Dinner for two is $25; dinner for four is $50. Bacon-wrapped sausages are a favorite. Info: www.carnepdx.com.
The Tribune will be highlighting other restaurants and the restaurant industry in general in the coming weeks.
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