Malka, the ethereal restaurant from Carte Blanche owner and Pok Pok and Mae alum Jessie Aron, has just launched a Kickstarter as it prepares for its opening. Serving an eclectic mix of everything from slow-roasted ribs to rice bowls, Aron will operate out of a home on SE Division, just a fork’s throw from where she grew up. Aron is hoping to raise $50,000, which she says will go to opening week wages for her staff, furnishing the restaurant, and stocking her globally inspired pantry.
When it was open, Carte Blanche attracted wrap-around-the-block lines of those enchanted by crispy rice salads fragrant with lime and fish sauce. The cart closed, but soon a cart regular helped Aron open her own restaurant, something similar to what she had dreamed of as a kid. She describes her childhood fantasy restaurant in her Kickstarter bio below:
When I was little, I pictured the dining room of my imaginary restaurant to be very academic, a little dusty and enchanted, like an Ivy League library or a place where somebody distinguished might wear a “smoking jacket.” I was hoping for a backyard with a treehouse, where customers take their food from baskets lifted on a rope and pulley. When I pictured the dishes this dream place would serve, I’m sorry to say there was more style than substance: ideally, the food would look like woodland fairy offerings, studded with tiny robins’ eggs and edible moss and blossoms, and it would appear into and vanish out of thin air, like the feasts at Hogwarts. Plus there would be Pad Thai and cheese pizza and dried mangoes, because those were my favorites. My cooking experiments at the time had a tendency to go very wrong and alarm anyone within smelling (or heaven forbid, tasting) range. But that didn’t really bother me. The most important thing I knew was that the food would have to be magic, unlike anything the shocked and amazed customers had ever tasted or even knew how to describe.
Malka won’t have a treehouse-mounted dumb waiter — “yet,” Aron hedges — but the chef hopes the restaurant will retain the spirit of her imaginary eatery. “True to my younger self, I want the food and the space to feel somewhat apart from the usual rhythm and routine of life in Portland,” she writes. “It should be as if you are eating dishes from a vacation spot in a mythical place, like the planet the Little Prince lives on or the kitchen in Howl’s Moving Castle. The food is chaotic and unexpected, but above all, it’s delicious.”
Similar to Mae, Malka’s Kickstarter rewards are tied to some of her beloved dishes, from 8 ounces of fried shallots to her recipe for crispy rice salad. She also has a few meal options as rewards, including snacks, cookies, and pickles. But food isn’t the only art on the table: With a $35 donation or more, you can get your hands on the restaurant’s playlist; for $70, you get an LP of chef de cuisine Colin McArthur’s band, Animal Eyes.
Since the Kickstarter launched on Thursday, the team has raised a little more than $15,000, with 27 days to go. The restaurant should open this fall.
Correction: This story has been corrected to show that Malka is located on SE Division, not Hawthorne.
• Malka [Facebook]
• Help Carte Blanche become Malka [Kickstarter]
• All Malka coverage [EPDX]
• All Carte Blanche coverage [EPDX]
• Carte Blanche’s Ethereal Restaurant Will Open on SE Division This September [EPDX]