For anyone who hasn't been, Castagna and Café Castagna are not the same thing, even though they're located next to each other, connected by a narrow hall, and both owned by Monique Siu. Siu, a long-time visionary in Portland's version of the haute cuisine world, had maintained separate concepts, menus, and, until recently, chefs. This week, Castagna chef and local-modernist-food icon Justin Woodward takes over the cafe's kitchen, and this signals one thing: A chance to taste Woodward's inventive food a la carte (next door at Castagna, the many-coursed prix fixe and chef's tasting menus cost $98 and $155 respectively).
According to the press release, Café Castagna will retain some standbys, like the caesar salad and the culty hamburger, and Woodward will add dishes like milk braised pork shoulder served with brussels sprouts and coho salmon with chorizo, flageolet beans, and pickled Calabrian chilies. You'll also find some dishes from the cafe's Middle Eastern stint, which was led by chef Wesley Johnson (Zahav, Levant), including the fried panissa (chickpea cakes).
Additionally, to help Woodward in the kitchen, Café Castagna has brought on a new sous chef, Kevin Yandle, and cafe floor manager, Clea Partridge.