Chef Chris Whaley (who long manned the pizza ovens at San Francisco's three-starred Italian spot Zero Zero) turns his focus to "regional drinking food" at his new SE Division restaurant. The American Local made it official yesterday in the former Caffe Pallino space, serving Whaley and co-owner Jenny Nickolaus' interpretations of "regional American specialties" culled from years of road-tripping.
The cheery, 50-seat space features an open kitchen where guests can watch Whaley cook up a lengthy menu of electic small plates: expect dishes like salmon crudo with Meyer lemon and sesame (during Whaley's tenure at Zero Zero, critic Michael Bauer called its crudo "some of the best outside Japan); bacon beignets with house made espellette pepper; and a take on poutine (which adds foie gras to the usual curds-and-gravy topping). The sample menu also features five skewers (Wagyu steak; butternut squash) and larger plates like poached-chicken noodle soup and yes, a burger.
In keeping with the "all America" theme, the bar's taplist isn't limited to just Oregon brews: New Orleans brewery Abita is represented, as are eight wines on tap and one tap dedicated to pouring Forest Grove's Momokawa sake.
The American Local is open now. Hours of operation: Tuesday through Thursday, 5p.m. to 10p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5p.m. to 11p.m.; Sunday, 5p.m. to 9p.m.
· The American Local [Official site]
· All Previous American Local Coverage [Eater PDX]