Oregon is home to a lot of restaurants, bars, wineries, and breweries, but there are tons of hidden gems that some Portlanders aren't unearthing. To help guide us to these potential discoveries, we've enlisted some of our city's many food players to share their recommendations for a weekly feature dubbed Dining Confidential.
Image of St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Orthodox Church courtesy Dian K. via Yelp
Erika Polmar is one busy foodie. Her Plate & Pitchfork series of farm dinners, which will celebrate its 10th season this summer, are all about creating innovative ways to bring agricultural and culinary issues to the fore in order to create a healthy, economically viable and delicious place to live. This year, Polmar added Forklift to connect urban foodies with Portland's artisan community (from chocolatiers to bakers and distillers), as well as a raft-and-ranch adventure coming this September with chefs Jason Barwikowski and Ben Bettinger. Polmar's a busy gal: But when she's not, especially on Saturdays, you might find her deep in the bowels of a church sitting in front of a pile of piping hot perogies.
When I open the heavy doors of the St. John the Baptist Church in Sellwood, the overwhelming smell of caramelized onions greets me and pulls me down the stairs to the basement community room. I wander past the folding tables and chairs over thread-bare carpet to the take out window and find women of all ages, in humble dress and hairnets, ready to serve me the best perogies. Take a dozen frozen, to go. Or sit down to a plate with the hot dumplings smothered in onions and sour cream. The church is on my dog-walking route and it's hard to resist a stop there every Saturday. Although my relatives are of Russian descent, I didn't grow up with this food, but there's something about these perogies (available on Saturdays from 11am-2pm and at special events), the ladies who serve them and the chatter in Eastern European dialects that makes me feel like a kid visiting my grandparents.