In 2019, Chefstable CEO Kurt Huffman announced a large-scale move to bring some of the restaurant group’s biggest successes to the suburbs. Chefstable, the restaurant group behind blockbusters like Lardo and St. Jack, planned to start with six of its restaurants in a single development: Mercato Grove, a massive apartment and retail space in Lake Oswego.
In the last two years, some of the restaurants set aside for the space have changed, but the group now has something like a restaurant row in Lake O: In a crescent of restaurants, customers dine on egg-topped carbonara, rhubarb pop tarts, and griddled mortadella sandwiches, strolling over to Fills Donuts for soft serve sundaes and Berliners after brunch or dinner. And the restaurant group isn’t done just yet: Soon, Portland pizzeria Oven & Shaker and French institution St. Jack will open their doors later this summer, rounding out this new piece of Portland dining in the southern suburb.
Chefstable wasn’t the first Portland brand to open outposts in Lake Oswego — Bamboo Sushi, Salt & Straw, and St. Honoré all have locations in L.O. — but it is likely the most involved development project by a single Portland restaurant group in the area. Chefstable isn’t like many other restaurant groups: As opposed to operating around a single chef or character, Chefstable partners with various chefs to help them with the necessities of running a successful business, like finding a location, operating efficiently, and helping with human resources and public relations. For that reason, Chefstable restaurants are remarkably varied: Chefstable co-owns a Mexican bakery, beer bars, an urban winery, a Chinese restaurant, and a Northwest Portland bouchon, among other businesses. So when developing a major development in Portland, the team knew it could offer a wide array of dining experiences within a single space.
And that’s exactly what Mercato Grove’s Chefstable campus does: Within a single development, visitors will be able to find steak frites, salted caramel Berliners, hardcore sandwiches, casual pastas, wood-fired pizzas, and an impressive lineup of beers. Down the line, Mercato Grove will build out a much larger shared outdoor space, so guests can get dishes and drinks from each of the restaurants and share them at one table. For now, it’s best set up for a food crawl, from brunch to dinner to dessert. Here, we dig into the various restaurants at the Mercato Grove development, what to order, and when the last of these spots will open. Note that, as with any restaurant or coming attraction, opening dates and menus may change over time.
What it is: Back in the day, John Gorham ran this global brunch and dinner chainlet, which served a number of small plates as well as larger boards designed to share at three separate locales during its lifetime. Gorham has left the brand behind, and Chefstable picked up the pieces to open Tasty 2.0. Many of the greatest hits remain — egg-topped breakfast bravas, the Southwestern steak-and-eggs relative known as the “cowboy breakfast,” Tasty N Alder’s bibimbap bacon and eggs, shakshuka — as well as additions from Portland’s new favorite pastry chef, Katherine Benvenuti.
What to get: Benvenuti’s pastries are simply exceptional, and the restaurant’s pastry basket shows off her skills as well as seasonal produce. The restaurant’s current rhubarb pop tart, in particular, is stellar. Those seeking something savory really can’t go wrong with the cowboy breakfast, which balance a hanger steak and beans with a bright smoked tomato salsa and escabeche.
Level of service: Indoor and outdoor dining with reservations available
More information: Tasty [Official]
What it is: What started as a rotating special at the now-closed Bar King has become its own brand — Fills, a Berliner shop in downtown Portland, has opened this doughnut, soft serve, and burger stand at the center of the outdoor plaza surrounding this Chefstable dining complex. Here, Benvenuti fills brioche doughnuts with everything from Mama Lil’s pepper pimento cheese to Mizuba matcha pastry cream, with toppings like Valrhona Dark Chocolate ganache, Coca Cola glaze, and more. In the afternoon and evening, however, Fills expands its offerings, with cheeseburgers served on brioche doughnut buns and soft serve sundaes with glazes and toppings left over from the doughnut operation.
What to get: One of Fills’ strongest doughnuts is its take on a maple bacon, which has every opportunity to be cliche but is not — a light butterscotch pastry cream made with Famous Grouse plays off a maple ganache, with crumbles of applewood smoked bacon for just a little salt.
Level of service: Counter service and takeout
More information: Fills [Official]
What it is: Rick Gencarelli, who spent time in ritzy Todd English kitchens before opening this unapologetically indulgent sandwich shop, hawking tall cheeseburgers, pork shoulder sandwiches layered with kimchi, and mortadella sandwiches paired with briny peppers.
What to get: The rotating chefwich, a collaboration with a Portland chef that fundraises for a different nonprofit or mutual aid effort each month, is always a safe bet, and keeps things fresh for regulars. But the restaurant’s mortadella has been a menu stalwart for a reason.
Level of service: Dine-in, takeout, and delivery
More information: Lardo [Official]
What it is: Another one of Gencarelli’s brainchildren, Grassa is a super casual pasta chain that serves handmade pastas in preparations that range from a classic Sunday sauce to a gooey pork belly mac and cheese. The restaurant rounds out the menu with things like Caesar salads, meatballs, and garlic bread, with rotating pasta specials based on what produce is in season.
What to get: The shop’s Sunday sauce is nothing to scoff at, but one of the cheekiest — and best — dishes at Grassa is its carbonara. Instead of simply using the typical egg in the bucatini’s sauce, Grassa also tops the whole shebang with a fried egg.
Level of service: Counter service dine-in, takeout, and delivery
More information: Grassa [Official]
Lac St. Jack
What it is: St. Jack has been a favorite for celebrations in Portland for a decade, and soon, it’ll have a twin south of the city. Lac St. Jack will serve some of the most popular dishes on the St. Jack menu — steak frites, butter lettuce salad, chicken liver mousse — as well as French standards like steak tartare and seafood like oysters and whole-roasted fish. The wine list will be French-bottle-heavy, with cocktails from bar manager Nic Balcer.
What to get: At St. Jack, some of the finest dishes involve seafood, which chef and owner Aaron Barnett handles particularly well. However, St. Jack’s simple steak frites are some of the best in Portland, and that will likely be true of Lac St. Jack’s in Lake Oswego. An order of chicken liver mousse is essential.
When it opens: July 15, now accepting reservations
More information: Lac St. Jack [Instagram]
Oven and Shaker
What it is: This Pearl District pizzeria was a meeting of two incredible minds in food and beverage: Cathy Whims, the owner of Italian institution Nostrana, and Ryan Magarian, the co-founder of Aviation Gin. Together, they created this pizzeria-meets-cocktail bar, serving char-dotted pies alongside Old Fashioneds and Añejo tequila Manhattans. This new location will honor the original location, with pizzas cooked in an Acunto oven, cocktails, and a serious wine list.
What to get: The menu hasn’t dropped just yet; however, if the Lake Oswego Oven and Shaker is anything like its sibling to the north, most of the pies on the menu will be hits. For something traditional, the shop’s margherita is true to form and delicious; those seeking something a little more distinct will enjoy the maple pig, which pairs apple and maple with smoked ham and pork belly.
When it opens: Mid-August
More information: Oven and Shaker [Official]
Mercato Grove is located at 4055 Mercantile Drive.