Portland’s newest deli and grocer, Lavka, has opened today on the upper floor of beloved Russian restaurant Kachka. The market sells Eastern European ingredients made in-house, grab-and-go Kachka treats, fresh baked bread, charcuterie, frozen dumplings, and other sundries and staples. It will also serve as a casual pre-dinner cocktail lounge on weekends.
Kachka makes almost all of its ingredients in-house; part of the impetus for Lavka’s creation was to provide customers a chance to pick up some of the restaurant’s charcuterie, bread, mustard, pickles, smetana (a Russian sour cream), and other goods and ingredients that diners often ask about. In addition, a lack of Eastern European grocery stores in the central Portland area meant that shoppers would have to travel to Beaverton or deep East Portland to track down imported products. Lavka now provides those items like tinned fish, cooking oils, spices, jams, teas, and other ingredients, plus imported cookies, sodas, wines, and beers.
All of this is in the spirit of promoting Eastern European cooking. “What Israel and I do in our business is about promoting and supporting this cuisine,” says co-owner and chef Bonnie Morales of her and her co-owner and husband’s focus. “It’s another way to talk about it and encourage people to make it a part of their everyday life.” Those who want to try their hand at Russian cooking can find the Kachka cookbook here, as well, to get started. Dumpling fans (who are likely most of Kachka’s visitors) will be happy to note that the store sells bagged, frozen dumplings to take home and cook.
Lavka is about more than just home cooking — it’s also a place where hungry visitors can grab quick grab-and-go items. Buterbrodi, open-faced sandwiches made to-order on Kachka’s breads, are a deliciously quick lunch option, with choices like farmer’s cheese, sunflower oil, and marinated peppers on borodinsky bread, or smetana butter and roe on challah. Piroshki, yeasted buns stuffed with savory or sweet fillings, are another staple. The shop will always have a hard boiled egg and scallion version, as well as a daily rotating one.
At the moment, the store is unable to sell the famous horseradish vodka or any of the bottles of wines on the shelves to go, but future licenses will allow it to do both.
The shop will be open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings after 6 the space will convert to a casual cocktail bar where diners can enjoy a glass of punch or beer while waiting for a table downstairs.