Photo of din din Supperclub courtesy Avila/EPDX
How does one review a restaurant whose concept constantly changes? Portland Monthly's Karen Brooks tackles this in her review of chef Courtney Sproule's NE brick-and-mortar outpost of her once pop-up only din din Supper Club. The result focuses on the atmosphere, full of "unconventional merriment" and chefs whose "muscular arms [are] tangled in a culinary ballet." The soundtrack and the staff's departure from chef's whites gets major play: "if Julia Child had joined the riot grrrl movement, America's food revolution might have looked like this."
As far as the food, Brooks embraces Sproule's close attention to details: lamb tartare "snuggles" against its accompaniments that are "clinging to the vine"; a duck-egg omelette is "full of buttery folds"; a ham-and-cheese baguette deemed a "Parisian daydream." At a multi-course dinner, "not every idea fizzed, and dessert outright fizzled," but Brooks appreciates the meal's overall balance, highlighting an "imaginative" approach executed by a "distinctly feminine hand." Ultimately, din din is " as original as anything in Portland, and as close as can be to eating in a friend's home." [Portland Monthly]
The Mercury's Chris Onstad visits the pasta arm of Rick Gencarelli's growing Lardo empire, finding many "generous portions" and big, "well-matched flavors" at Grassa. Onstad emphasizes the moderate pricing of the dishes, deeming rigatoni with Sunday pork ragu, radiatore, and Italian-American antipasti the favorites (the latter is deemed "the best-tasting hoagie in town, deconstructed"). Some otherwise "sturdy" dishes border on heavy — as is the case with a buttery gigli and gnocchi — but usually, the "robust, and often intense" combinations arrive to the table well-balanced, and "flavor and execution of the pasta mains ranged from good to excellent." Ultimately: "For price and quality, it's highly recommended for a casual meal." [Mercury]
· All Previous Weeks in Review [Eater PDX]