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Castagna & Cafe Castagna


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#161 ExtraMSG

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Posted 29 May 2010 - 11:00 AM

That is some gorgeous food! Thanks so much for the pics.


And honestly, given the lighting and fullness of the table, I wasn't able to to do most items justice. So however they look here, they're better looking by half in person.
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#162 salmonfly65

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 02:27 PM

Back for lunch recently. Had the risotto balls and bucatini. Again, the risotto balls come "dry." I can't remember the exact name of the bucatini dish , but it came with diced tomatoes, onions, and bacon. I used that with the risotto balls - huge difference. They should add some $ to the pricing of those and drizzle it with the bucatini sauce.

I'll head back at some point even though it seemed very loud.

#163 Amanda

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 07:39 AM

CONGRATULATIONS TO CASTAGNA! The Oregonian named it Restaurant of the Year!

The cover:
http://www.oregonliv...-2010/index.ssf

The article:
http://www.oregonliv...year/index.html

Best regards,

Amanda

#164 ExtraMSG

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 11:30 AM

http://pdx.eater.com...-beard-menu.php

Lightner will be cooking up a storm at the NYC foundation venue next Wednesday (if you happen to be heading to the east coast, pick up your tickets here); for the rest of us PDX-tied sad sacks, Lightner revealed the menu on the Beard House blog this morning: Along with pigs' ears and lardo apps, Lightner will represent with an Oregon beef and wheat grass main course.


http://www.jamesbear...ds-rising-star/

Hors d’Oeuvre

Lardo and Tomatoes on Brioche

Salmon on Rye Toasts

Cheese Puffs with Garlic Aïoli

Crispy Pigs’ Ears with Radishes and Hazelnuts

Pairing: Matello Ribbon Ridge Pinot Gris 2009

Dinner

Willamette Valley Onion Salad with Caramelized Allium Vinegar, Herbs, and Crisp Vegetables
Pairing: Andrew Rich Vintner Roussanne 2007

Black Cod with Shell Beans, Seaweed, Brown Butter Infusion, and Wild Salcornia
Pairing: Matello Caprice 2009

Charred Oregon Beef with Poached Potatoes, Wheat Grass, and Leek Ash
Pairing: The Eyrie Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir 2007

Beets and Berries with Salted Meringue
Pairing: Andrew Rich Vintner Gewürztraminer 2007

Licorice Root with Streusel and Tahitian Vanilla


The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole & Kenny & Zuke's

#165 Jill-O

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 05:22 PM

Nice menu and nice local pairings.

Would love to try: Beets and Berries with Salted Meringue Pairing: Andrew Rich Vintner Gewürztraminer 2007

...as much for the dish as the pairing.
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#166 ExtraMSG

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 12:24 AM

http://www.wweek.com...ial/3647/14552/

Ten years in, Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard’s only successful fine-dining venture has dramatically reinvented itself, under the leadership of lauded chef Matt Lightner, in a transformation no less surprising than, say, the phrase “Senator Al Franken.” The restaurant that once specialized in enormous pork chops and bright fried vegetables is now the stage for bold culinary experimentation of a sort we’ve rarely seen in this city.

....

A few examples, which certainly won’t be on the menu by the time you read this: thick slices of quick-pickled cucumber marinated in rice vinegar and dill, sprinkled with flowers and peeled green almonds, attacked from the side by an avalanche of snowy powder—actually frozen, shaved, smoked tuna—that looked like some sort of accident and tasted like some sort of sushi ($14); a dish of morel mushrooms, buckwheat groats, ferns and barbecued lamb that looked and smelled like a forest floor ($23); a carrot, poached in birch-wood syrup, coated with finely chopped bone marrow and hazelnuts, that tasted like a barbecued pork rib ($14); an aged loin strip steak ($30) that tasted grilled not because it had ever seen smoke, but because it was rubbed with garlic ash (slightly gritty, but not unpleasant). Even a relatively traditional appetizer of grilled shallots and squid arms in pan jus ($15) was presented as a terrifying Lovecraftian landscape. As I ate, I imagined Lightner grinning as he positioned the tentacles just so. Why serve chanterelles over a gelatinous rectangle or corn curd? Why not?


The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole & Kenny & Zuke's

#167 friedalighthouse

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 08:04 AM

http://tmagazine.blo...-in-oregon/?hpw

New York Times blog piece about Castagna chef Matt Lightner's love of foraging.

#168 Angelhair

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 10:39 AM

From their newsletter: We have decided to close for lunch at Café Castagna.
Our last day will be Saturday, November 6th.

#169 Calabrese

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 07:01 PM

Sad. I am not often on the East side at the lunch hour but the Cafe and another place were my 2 stand-bys in SE.

#170 ExtraMSG

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 07:57 PM

Via FD

Bon Appetit Top Celebration Restaurants

Castagna
Portland, Oregon
Chef Matt Lighner uses the expected local ingredients (Dungeness crab, blueberries) as well as the unusual (green almonds, ferns, nettles), with dazzling results. 1752 SE Hawthorne Boulevard; 503-231-7373; castagnarestaurant.com


The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole & Kenny & Zuke's

#171 ExtraMSG

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Posted 13 January 2011 - 01:28 AM

http://www.portlandm...-matt-lightner/

Call him our gastronomic Harry Potter…David Blaine…Pablo Picasso. Whether they deem him a wizard, magician, or artist in the kitchen, the local and national culinary critics can’t seem to stop praising Matt Lightner, 30, executive chef at Castagna since October 2009.

....

New Year’s Eve is essentially the food scene Super Bowl, but here the young chef takes a brief break to answer a few questions for us about what’s cooking—past, present, and future.

1) What one item on your menu right now would you say best represents your philosophy of cooking perfected on a plate?

A dish of lightly-cured scallops dressed with a milk made from parsley root, an ice made from the juice of unripe pears, and dandelion greens. It allows us to use very mainstream ingredients in a new fashion, taking a time of year that’s generally rich and heavy and, instead, making it refreshing.


The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole & Kenny & Zuke's

#172 grapes

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Posted 14 May 2011 - 01:56 PM

We did the Chef's tasting menu at Castagna last night. It was 10 courses plus five snacks to start.

The five snacks weren't listed out on the menu, so my descriptions are sure to have some inaccuracies. My wife, who ordered the wine pairings with her meal, got a nice complimentary glass of prosecco to go with the snacks.

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Snack 1 - Purple carrot leather, with orchid gel and hibiscus powder. Presented on pebbles in a wooden box. (How do they clean that, I want to know?) Fun start, very floral, but recognizably a fruit leather. It stuck to my teeth, which would actually happen with several of the snacks.

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Snack 2 - Buttermilk puff, filled with an herb aioli and trout roe. The puff itself was mild, with a texture kind of like a shrimp chip. The green-tinged filling inside had a flavor that defies my attempts to describe it. Not in a bad way.


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Snack 3 - Rye cracker with chicken liver pâté and poppy seeds. This was simple and perfectly done. The paper-thin rye cracker was very nice.


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Snack 4 - Dried sunchoke "skin" with yogurt filling, powdered yogurt and curly grass(?). At last, a good cannoli in Portland! No, ha ha I kid. The sunchoke-based shell was pretty nice, but I found this to pack a little too much of a sour-yogurt punch for my full enjoyment -- and I eat plain Nancy's yogurt every day. It was also a mess -- yogurt powder all over my face. That said, this was novel and fun.


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Snack 5 - Duck fat chips with greens and duck jus. Nice idea, but my least favorite of the snacks. Kind of bitter, kind of funky. Not actually bad though.


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Moving on to the actual menu now. This is "almonds with radishes, almond curd, sprouts and flowers". (Italics and bold are reproduced here as in the actual menu. Just because I think it's funny.) That's yuba skin on the bottom, hidden underneath that is the custard-like almond curd. These were fresh almonds (I think, either that or some sort of magic was done to regular almonds) and they were a revelation: soft and moist inside a distinctive skin. The clover flowers added some flavor, unlike some of the more purely decorative edible flowers to come later. I loved this salad.

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"Scallops with licorice, fennel, juice of rhubarb, and sweet woodruff". Powdered licorice covering a scallop ceviche, with a little fennel on top and a little red rhubarb sauce hiding underneath. Oddly, even though I like licorice and she does not, my wife enjoyed this more than I did. For me it was kind of a muddled miss.


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Right after the scallops, my wife said to me "I wish I could ask for some bread." I am pretty sure she was not overheard, but nonetheless the next plate out had some house-made rye rolls, accompanied by butter and lardo. Nom. The rolls were super-crispy on the outside, in a way that first concerned but soon delighted me. I thought they might have actually been deep-fried, but I asked the server and she said that they were instead baked with a liberal olive oil coating.

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"Duck Egg with asparagus, potato crumbs and smoked oyster" was the menu title here, but those are clearly potato chips, not crumbs. The stuff that looks like it is the egg white is actually the smoked oyster -- a smoked oyster foam, that is, surrounding a duck egg yolk. I found the foam fishy-tasting in a bad way but still enjoyed this. The sauce contained the asparagus; the vegetable garnish was young watercress (we asked).


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"Ground Anemone pine nut gravy, morels, rabbit sausage and nettles". The morels, stuffed with rabbit sausage, were recognizable and delicious. Really the best morel preparation I've ever had -- not that I've had that many... not the biggest fan, usually. The big stones this was served on/in were quite warm, a nice touch. As for the rest of what's going on in this dish, it was yummy too, but I have to admit I don't know what's what -- I don't even know if the anemone in question is the flower or sea anemone, nor if it is ground up, or something actually known as "ground anemone". I think not having the slightest idea what you're eating is part of the joy of a menu like this.


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"Spot Prawn with geranium, amaranth and head jus." So the silverware situation for this tasting menu is kind of funny. Most of the time there is a salad fork and a dinner fork on your left, and either a table knife or a spoon on your right -- leaving you to sweat the choice of which fork to use. Anyway, before this one came out, they cleared all the silverware away, announcing that it was to be eaten with your hands. Fair enough I guess. It was a eat-the-tail, suck-the-head deal with this one -- the only twist being that the head had been hollowed out and repacked with a sauce made from what had been in there to begin with. It was a tasty enough shrimp I guess. My wife didn't like it so much, mainly due to the gross-out factor for her.


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"Cheeks of halibut with garlic and seaweed butter". The halibut cheeks were poached sous vide then separated into individual fibers, turning them into a kind of super-delicious pseudo-pasta. The garlic was small whole cooked pickled cloves, hidden under the halibut in the photo. The seaweed butter was poured over the plate at the table (as were several other of the sauces during the meal). This was my favorite savory dish; the strong ocean aroma of the seaweed butter turned off my wife, though.


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"Pork confit, young garlic, pine nuts and dried scallops". (I forgot to take the photo until after we'd begun to eat this one; ignore the chunk of discarded fat on the plate, please :-) A miss for me. Too much pork fat for my enjoyment, and the dried scallop was surprisingly unflavorful. The pork meat itself was nice, though, and the crisped bit on top of the fat was a treat.

#173 grapes

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Posted 14 May 2011 - 01:57 PM

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"Sherbet with lemon pulp and wild flower meringue." Wow! Wow. The big foamy block on top -- that's not the meringue, that's the sherbet. Some sort of vacuum pump apparently converts it from normal sorbet into an amazingly light, almost effervescent treat. The meringue is the snowy-looking crumbles around the edges. There's some lemon curd underneath. This was spectacular. Great lemon flavor too.


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Continuing on the tasting menu, we get to the desserts...

"Rhubarb with toasted oats and olive oil, wild ginger and sorrel." A deconstructed rhubarb cobbler with olive oil ice cream? A nice touch was that the serving stone was ice cold. Everything tasted OK, but the need to get out a fork and knife to cut through the rhubarb was a little bit of a let-down.


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"Sunchoke with sunflower and apple." Sunflower ice cream, apple gel hemispheres, and some sort of candy-like concoction made from sunchokes. Any complaints I may have had in the previous dish about the rhubarb being too rhubarb-like were demolished here, where nothing was anything like one might have thought from the menu description. I enjoyed the delicate transparent apple gel hemisphere things. Actually, all of this was very nice.

We finished up with a couple of lovely cocoa-dusted chewy pralines and some of the better-tasting decaf coffee I can remember recently. Even at $95/person for the tasting menu, I think the value for the money here was pretty good. Service was efficient, friendly, and knowledgeable. Dishes came to the table at a rapid pace but the whole shebang still took two and a half hours.

#174 Angelhair

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Posted 14 May 2011 - 02:04 PM

Great write-up, Grapes and nice pics. Thanks!

#175 polloelastico

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Posted 14 May 2011 - 02:52 PM

Those rolls look good.
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#176 doglover

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Posted 14 May 2011 - 03:03 PM

We went on Thursday night for my wife's birthday. We did the 4 course meal. The tasting meal looked amazing and with the report above we need to return soon.
We brought our own bottle of 2004 Cameron Clos Electrique Blanc. It's drinking quite well right now and was a nice complement to the food at Castagna.

Amuse-Bouche

The snacks were all quite fun.

http://www.foodspott.../reviews/560132
http://www.foodspott.../reviews/560139
http://www.foodspott.../reviews/560148

Rye Rolls

http://www.foodspott.../reviews/560151

Beef Tongue

I've never had beef tongue done like this. Very special very delicious.

http://www.foodspott.../reviews/560170


Morels & Nettles

I really loved this dish. I'm ready for a 2nd visit soon to try it again.

http://www.foodspott.../reviews/560195


Game Hen

This was very nicely done.

http://www.foodspott.../reviews/560217


Dessert

My battery died just as I was snapping the picture. I had a wonderful rhubarb dessert with wild ginger ice cream. Really nice.

#177 Trish

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Posted 14 May 2011 - 03:16 PM

Looks like a very adventurous menu!

#178 ExtraMSG

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Posted 14 May 2011 - 10:07 PM

Funny, had almost that same meal a few days ago. There was actually three of us and we tried absolutely everything on the menu, plus had them add-on the two things we didn't get from the chef's tasting menu.
The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole & Kenny & Zuke's

#179 nervousxtian

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 05:59 AM

Great report Grapes. Nick what was your overall impression? Grapes mentioned "fishiness" a few times, and I know that's a complaint you will often have with seafood.

#180 ExtraMSG

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 08:24 AM

Fishiness was definitely present in some dishes, but it was more of an intense sea flavor than an off-flavor. I think the bigger question on Castagna will always be whether the pure flavor of the dish stacks up to other top restaurants or whether you have to enjoy the more cerebral and creative parts of what Lightner is doing to love a meal there.
The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole & Kenny & Zuke's