A warm new pop-up dining concept recently launched in Northeast Portland, introducing Pacific Northwesterners to the Spanish tradition of tertulia, an informal gathering where food is served along with music, literary or artistic chat, and an enormous dose of goodwill.
Chef Ricardo Segura, who for 17 years operated Tapeo, then Patanegra, in the Northwest Portland space now occupied by Ataula, recently launched his intimate, twice-a-week Tertulia dinners in the Mount Tabor Coffee Roaster space at NE Glisan and NE 69th Ave. There he's serving up community spirit along with some truly inspired tapas.
"When I sold Patanegra, after some time back home in Spain, I knew I wanted to cook again in Portland," says Segura. Instead of opening another restaurant, he began paella catering, and when he was invited to the NE Glisan space, a brand-new idea was born.
Each month, Tertulia's five-course menu features a different region of Spain. March highlighted the Castilla y León region, with its emphasis on hearty stews, morcilla, and meats. For April, it's the Rioja, with trout escabeche, bacalao, and lamb osso buco. The menu progresses from an array of tapas to hearty second and third courses, followed by cheese and dessert courses. Each moment leads to the next, served family-style with panache by Segura's longtime friend Dylan Kiewel.
During the meal, coffee is roasted nearby on Mount Tabor Roastery's beautiful vintage beast of a coffee roaster. Also part of the meal is a small presentation on the coffee roasting process, with green coffee beans passed around the table in a bowl before returning, some fifteen minutes later, a rich fragrant brown. Coffee often makes its way into some of the dishes, and at the end of the night, each guest walks away with an 8-ounce bag of fresh-roasted beans.
The dinners are limited to 20 people and offered Thursday and Friday nights at 7 p.m. Cost is $45 per person, not including beverages or gratuity, and tickets can be purchased through the website. The optional wine pairings change each month to match the region, but a flight with a mix of Spanish wines tends to run $35 to $40. Upcoming regions include La Rioja, Basque, and Galicia, and Segura plans to bring in guest chefs to keep his offerings fresh.
Tertulia: 6922 NE Glisan St., Portland