Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Sunday Dinner - Cafe Castagna
We've been trying to go to Castagna for a couple of years now, but it just never seemed to happen. Once, we went right as they were closing and then for awhile it was too expensive for us. But then on Friday a follower of this here blog (the only follower, I believe) posted on Facebook that he and his wife went there and that prompted me to go soon. On Sunday we were thinking about going to either Laurelhurst Market or Cafe Castagna - and after looking at both online menus it was an easy choice - Cafe Castagna. How can I turn down arancini? I cannot. For those of you who have not experienced arancini - you are missing out! They are basically fried risotto balls, and typically involve some type of cheese. I've made them before but they are a messy ordeal, and they take awhile to make so if I can get someone else to make them for me I am one happy camper.
The meal was fantastic. Well, mine was. Trey was trying to decide between the penne baked with gruyere, cheddar, fennel and leek and the razor clams. He told our waitress that he once had a bad experience with razor clams, but was willing to give them another try if they were delicious. She assured him they were great, and told him that if he didn't like them she wouldn't charge us for them. He also ordered fries, just in case he hated the clams. Turns out, he just hates razor clams. They were good, if you like razor clams (I don't either) so I am not knocking the dish. They just weren't up our alley. We did pay for them.
I don't want to treat this like a review, so I'll just say the food was amazing. The service was great, our waitress was knowledgeable and helpful and fast. It was, however, a little more expensive than we would have liked. But I will certainly go there again (and again and again).
Here's what we ordered, pictures follow.
Me - Miss Scarlet (lemon drop with pomegranite)
Trey - Hurricane (light and dark rum with orange and lemon juice)
Sauvies Island Egg with Frisee, Lardons and Toast - You may be asking what lardons are. We did. They are the most amazing thing the world. It's basically just pork fat, fried. Yum.
Me - Salmon with Lentils and Horseradish Creme Fraiche
Trey - Razor Clams (from the starter menu) and Fries (from the side menu)
The salmon was cooked perfectly and the horseradish creme fraiche was phenomenal. I will be adding that to nearly everything from now on. I typically am not a lentil person, but these were really good with the salmon and the mirepoix (fancy word for onions, carrots and celery).
I've already spoken to the clams, and the French fries were great. Light, crispy and thin. Just the way I like 'em.
Manchego cheese with honeycomb and spiced almonds
One word: delish. I love cheese as a dessert, because you know, I love cheese. This came with local honeycomb and spicy almonds. Take some cheese, put some honey on top and pop it in your mouth with an almond. Heaven.
As far as the ambiance goes, this place is pretty great. It's right on Hawthorne, though, so you'll get the occasional motorcycle tearing by loudly, but the large trees and the small herb garden make it feel slightly removed. The tables are tiny - but it gives it an intimate feel. A good thing on a date night. Speaking of dates, mine is quite handsome isn't he?