On Saturday Feb. 7, chef Ken Norris officially opened the doors to Clutch Prime Sausagery, his "haute" dog shop in the Timberland Town Center in the Cedar Mill area.
Norris, most recently the former chef/co-owner of Riffle NW, came up through the Manhattan kitchens of fine dining spots like Daniel Bouloud's Daniel and Marcus Samuelsson's August. With Clutch, he's given the low-brow sausage a high-brow makeover, while keeping within the parameters of a fast-casual restaurant.
The menu is divided into beef, poultry, and pork, and within those categories you'll essentially find full entrees in hot dog form. The Hot Smoked Rib features a sausage made of smoky pork, topped with pork rinds, slaw and smoked habanero barbecue sauce. The Duck sausage gets topped with plum sauce and crispy wontons. The beefy Nacho dog is sprinkled with corn chips, cheddar queso, hot sauce, shredded lettuce and radishes.
And because this is a chef-y hot dog joint, the only sides are a trio of fancy salads like shredded kale with beets, farro, and creme fraiche; shredded brussels sprouts with parmesan, lemon zest and hazelnuts; and a Nicoise-ish albacore tuna salad with green beans, and pickled shallots. Everything on the menu hovers around $10. To drink, there's bottled beer, sake, wine, craft sodas, and fountain drinks.
There's a mini market of products from Norris' Portland artisan food friends, including Marshall's Haute Sauce, Quin Candy, and Red Duck Ketchup. But otherwise the space is infused with the sort of top-to-bottom branding you see in national franchises and chains, from the bright color scheme, clean logo, and cartoony icons to the custom packaging. Spinoffs are clearly in the long-term plan. And, as a matter of fact, Norris has already been approved to bring a Clutch location to the Portland International Airport.
Clutch Prime Sausagery: 230 NW Lost Springs Terrace #22, Portland; Monday-Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.