Photo of Kachka courtesy Avila/EPDX
The Oregonian's Michael Russell drops his highest star-ranking yet upon SE Grand's Russian restaurant Kachka: Chef Bonnie Morales earns three stars for this "smash success" that "alter[s] our preconceptions of the food of the former Soviet states." Russell's review runs through nearly the entire Kachka menu, starting with the zakuski experience: "lovely" beet-cured salmon, an "awesome" beef shank and veal-foot cholodetz, and a seafood salad that "I suspect James Beard would have appreciated." There's even more love for the pilmeni dumplings ("firm, juicy tiddlywinks"), the service ("polished without being snobby"), and the service-providers ("Bonnie Morales has surrounded herself with a front-of-house staff in the dark, tall and handsome mold, starting with her husband.")
Russell doesn't allude to the record-high rating in this text, but a few points are re-emphasized: The restaurant's sense of liveliness and "fun," best enjoyed by a diner with a "willingness to experiment." Ultimately, the experience "will make you reconsider Russian cuisine entirely." [OregonLive]
Portland Monthly's Karen Brooks admits she was a bit confused upon first entering Maurice, Kristen D. Murray's acclaimed pastry luncheonette. Brooks' self-described first impression wondered aloud: "[I'm] not sure if I've wandered into an art exhibit or an igloo... Everyone looks confused about where to order and what to eat." She points out some of the "odd" elements, including its hours and the fact that "the experience veers from twee to revelatory, varying by the time of day, the plate, your mood."
But Brooks eventually "learned to stop worrying and love Maurice," thanks to dishes like the polenta clafouti ("one of the best brunch dishes ever"), a black sesame seed cake that exhibits "culinary calculus," and a Meyer lemon soufflé cake that "tastes like a French family heirloom." Other dishes are more challenging, though that's not necessarily a negative: salads are described as "minimalist beauties that feed the mind, not the gut," while an apricot pastry is beyond words. ("I've stopped trying to explain it or figure it out.") Ultimately, "Maurice is not one thing, but a series of moments that make Portland a more interesting place." [PoMo]
Photo of the Dime Store courtesy Avila/EPDX
WWeek's review of the fancy downtown diner the Dime Store starts with a proper eulogy for Leo's Non-Smoking Coffee Shop, the old-school breakfast counter that Dime how calls home. (Leo's boasted many, many charms, and "the only downside was the food.") The new incarnation, with chef Claire Miller in the kitchen, features a "graceful uptick in ingredients and execution," and that focus is embodied by a couple $1 extras: a runny egg atop a BLT, and the maple syrup add-on to buttermilk pancakes. They represent the best two dollars reviewer Martin Cizmar spent all week. [WW]
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