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The Country Cat Dinnerhouse


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#21 jmatt

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Posted 29 April 2007 - 08:47 PM

Opening night at the Country Cat Dinnerhouse! Mt Tabor residents have been waiting 20 years for this formerly scruffy street to take shape and Country Cat is a big help in the transformation.

Busy opening night, as expected. We were the first diners in the door. A few opening night bumps here and there, but nothing serious, just a little bit of a wait between courses, but certainly to be expected under the circumstances. Our meals ranged from good to spectacular. A simple mixed salad with blue cheese ($6) was airy, light and delicious. I had the Cast Iron Skillet Fried Chicken with a braised bibb lettuce and grilled asparagus tossed in a creamy Tabasco vinagrette ($18). It was quite good, but my wife's Beer Batter-Fried Whole Rockfish was the topper. Maybe the best fried fish I ever tasted. Rich, lightly crusted and an incredibly fresh cut of fish. Decent wine and beer selection. Adam appears to be on a quest to keep things simple, yet innovative.

Smallish menu, but saw many items I will return to tackle again. Some intruiging items were: Toasted quinoa with wild mushrooms, rappini & fresh goat cheese, Grilled artichoke skewer, fish and shellfish chowder pot pie, maple suar-cured wild salmon, manila clams with smoked country ham and sugar peas, bacon wrapped trout, a good looking burger, molassas and hickory-smoked duck leg and on and on. My dessert of warm rhubarb pie with buttermilk ice cream was superb.

Beautiful, informal atmosphere, seating for 64, well stocked bar, we left very satisfied.


Well, a nice place. The pork mixed grill was very tasty. The artichoke skewers were excellent as well. Don't know about that rockfish though---of course, it's been 2 days, but IMO, it was pretty oily and flavorless. Comfortable space and atmosphere.

#22 Twitch

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Posted 30 April 2007 - 07:31 AM

Anyone know hours and if they have or plan lunch service? I tried calling in the late afternoon and e-mailing but couldn't get anyone on the horn.

#23 tdub

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Posted 30 April 2007 - 09:49 AM

Don't know about that rockfish though---of course, it's been 2 days, but IMO, it was pretty oily and flavorless.


Yikes, what a difference. Our rockfish was light and crisp on outside, rich flavor in and out.

To the other post inquiring about days/hours. 5-10pm Wed-Sun, no lunchie at this point. Saw this small blurb in the Mercury from a few days ago.

http://blogtown.port...y_cat_opens.php

#24 rfctex

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Posted 30 April 2007 - 08:41 PM

I ate there early Sat. night. Had a boston lettuce salad with green goddess dressing and the excellent fried chicken and asparagus. Partner had the seafood chowder, which he really liked though I thought it was a small portion. For dessert, the chocolate pudding was rich and tasty and the lemon-ginger tartlet was incredible with a ginger snap base. One of the most interesting desserts I have had in awhile. I was expecting something a little more rustic but the prices were great. This is an excellent addition to the SE dining scene. Go and support this great new restaurant.

As to lunch, I heard one of the waitresses tell the next table that they might consider once they get up and running in the future.

#25 Jill-O

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Posted 01 May 2007 - 06:19 AM

Welcome to the site rfctex!
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#26 ducky

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Posted 05 May 2007 - 12:33 PM

Meant to post this ealier. Been a rough week. Had dinner there last sunday. I think it's going to be a busy little place. There were people waiting by 6:30 on a sunday evening. Great to have a place like this near my neck of the woods. I have to say it was one of the best meals I've had in a long time. Portions on the entrees were very generous. Everything was delicious.

I started out with a cocktail, the tulip, made of peach schnapps, coconut rum, and pineapple. Hands down one of the best cocktails I've had. No heavy alcohol taste, went down way too easy and had a great little buzz after two even with food. It had a great balance, not too sweet and not tart.

We shared the wedge of butter lettuce w/green goddess dressing and soft boiled egg. Nice and refreshing, very simple and straight forward. The egg gave it a little heartiness without making it heavy.

The puree of sorrel and white bean soup made mom swoon. Nice flavors.

We had the Country Cat "Hobo Pack" of toasted quinoa w/ wild mushrooms, rapini and fresh goat cheese. Great flavors and wonderful complexity. Well worth the $12 IMHO.

The cast iron skillet fried chicken (3 pieces, boneless) was served with a nice spicy sauce that was cooled by the braised bibb lettuce. Mom liked it with the lettuce, I liked it without. I think next time I would order the sauce on the side to enjoy some of the chicken sans sauce. They were great together but I thoroughly enjoyed the corner I got without sauce too. Great caramelization and color on the outside and yet the inside was plenty moist.

The mixed grill of Carlton Farm pork was a great dish for sharing. Our server said she enjoyed the smoked shoulder the most, Mom loved the cutlet and my fave was the brined chop. It showcases the fact that every piece of an animal has an entirely different taste and texture.

Every bite of the meal was great on it's own as I ate seperate componants of the dishes but each were even better when you layered the bites to get a little of everything on the plate.

To finish we had the warm rhubarb pie (individual, not a slice). Great flavor, crust could be a little more tender but it was a nice finish without being too sweet or to heavy. Big enough to share for some.

Also tried the fudgy bundt cake which I found interesting in the fact that it has a nice slight crisp/chew to the outside and it was soft and moist inside. It was perfect. Rich, deep satisfying. Paired perfectly with the merlot mom had.

Overall, a really great experience. I enjoyed sitting at the chef's counter and the staff was great. Our server Kerry rocked really hard. She's obviously very experienced and had perfect timing and balance. There, but not too intrusive. Service was totally spot on.

Wonderful, wonderful meal and we can't wait to go back and try the salmon that we saw coming off the grill that looked amazing and the steak and burger that both smelled intoxicating while they were cooking. We'll be back soon.
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It is of great importance to the morale.

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#27 Twitch

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Posted 05 May 2007 - 12:40 PM

Thanks for the report! I'll be going tonight. Did you notice if the salmon was plated as a sandwich of some sort? It sounds like it from the menu: http://www.pfmenus.com/?p=67
Did you not enjoy the sauce with the chicken due to its heat?

#28 ducky

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Posted 05 May 2007 - 01:02 PM

Thanks for the report! I'll be going tonight. Did you notice if the salmon was plated as a sandwich of some sort? It sounds like it from the menu: http://www.pfmenus.com/?p=67
Did you not enjoy the sauce with the chicken due to its heat?


I enjoyed the heat. Mom is getting better over time with heat but it was a little spicy for her.

The salmon was served just straight up with marinated beet and green garlic salad underneath. It looked beautiful. Let me know how it tastes if you try it. We're thinking of ordering it next time.
Pamela

Eating is not merely a material pleasure. Eating well gives a spectacular joy to life
and contributes immensely to goodwill and happy companionship.
It is of great importance to the morale.

-Elsa Schiaparelli

(Avatar is the cover of Sunlight Cafe by Mollie Katzen)

#29 whippy

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Posted 05 May 2007 - 04:45 PM

My only complaint about the fried chicken that I had there last week was that there was NO heat in the tabasco vinaigrette. It struck me as quite bland.

I play on Team Sriracha to be fair, though.

Nice to see the joint bustling. I'll definitely be back since it's so close, and after they've been open longer I'll write a little more.
I love how yummy food makes me feel happy!!!!!!

#30 Twitch

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Posted 05 May 2007 - 06:17 PM

Q+D:

Sat on the kitchen bar. Adam's got a great team going, everyone's on the ball and were very friendly about questions when they weren't working on an order.

Service:
The junior wait staff were very friendly. There was an elderly lady there who was kind of snarky. I guess they don't have coverage on the bar worked out because we were ignored the whole time; I had to stand up a couple times to chase someone down when I wanted something.

Food came off the line very fast.

Plates:
Fried rockfish: the texture of the batter was awesome, nice and light, but essentially unseasoned; the whole affair was rather bland. The malt vinegar mayo was OK. The accompanying slaw of celery and carrot had a flavor I couldn't place that didn't agree with me. My favorite vinegar slaw in town is at Podnah's.

Chowder/potpie: essentially chowder topped with a biscuit. I sampled the biscuit; it seemed rather dense to me; somewhat bland. I didn't sample the chowder due to lactose and shellfish.

Rhubarb pie:
The crust on this was too dense. The rhubarb was great. I had a droplet of the buttermilk ice cream and thought it was nice.

Portioning was kind of awkward. I usually dont' do starters, but I guess I would need to here. I was still rather hungry. I would have supplemented with bread but it took three flags before we could get some to the table. The bread itself is kind of interesting. Dense loaf, inch high, cut into strips about 1x1x8. Glazed with something I can't place on the top.

Oh yeah, four taps, if anyone's interested:

TG IPA
Boont Amber
Deschutes Brown
Bud

#31 ExtraMSG

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Posted 05 May 2007 - 07:40 PM

My wife and I ate here recently as well. Great space. Really like the look of the all wood booths, the casually elegant lighting, and the copper counters overlooking the bar and the open kitchen. Lots of big windows, too. (One minor quibble is that the front door seems to be on some sort of hydraulics that make it keep opening on its own and shut slowly resulting in cold breezes that are unable to be curtailed; be wary if you sit near it.)

Menu is split into four sections: vegetables, fruits, grains & salads; fish & shellfish; meat, game & poultry; sweets. There's no clear distinction between appetizers and entrees within the sections, although I would guess that all the meat/poultry dishes are full entree size, whereas the fish and veggie sections are split. Price may be a good guide. Items range in price from $5 for soup to $20 for steak (doesn't say what cut). See below:

VEGETABLES, FRUITS,
GRAINS & SALADS

Puree of Sorrel & White Bean Soup
With roasted garlic mascarpone $5

Mixed Salad of Wild Lettuce & Herbs
Tossed in "Italian, French, Thousand Island, ranch or blue cheese" vinaigrette $6

Wedge of Butter Lettuce
With "green goddess" dressing & soft boiled egg $6

Baked Green Garlic & New Crop Potato Hand Pie
With Bellweather farms ricotta cheese & a shaved chickory salad $13

Country Cat "Hobo Pack"
Toasted quinoa with wild mushrooms, rappini & fresh goat cheese $12

Grilled Artichoke Skewer
Basted in spring herb pesto with a marinated lima bean & pearl onion salad $12

FISH & SHELLFISH TABLE

Fish & Shellfish Chowder "Pot Pie"
With fennel, celery, leeks & potatoes $7

Scalloped Hood Canal Oysters
With chopped spring onion, horseradish, & garlic bread crumbs $12

Beer Battered-Fried Whole Rock Fish
With malt vinegar mayonnaise $11

Manila Clams, Smoked Country Ham & Sugar Peas
Steamed with mint, sour cream, lemon & thyme $15

Salt-Baked Salmon
On grilled brioche with bread & butter pickles $10

Bacon Wrapped Trout
With a pan braise of farmers market spring vegetables $16

MEAT, GAME & POULTRY

Heritage Burger
On a French onion bun with cheddar cheese, garlic mayonnaise & onion rings $10

Cast Iron Skillet Fried Chicken
With braised bibb leaf lettuce & grilled asparagus tossed in creamy Tabasco vinaigrette $18

Mixed Grill of Carlton Farm Pork
Rolled belly, brined chop & smoked shoulder on white corn grits with Moyer plums $18

Molasses & Hickory-Smoked Duck Leg
Glazed in rosemary honey with buttered baby onions & fennel pollen $18

Grilled Strawberry Mountain Beef
On fork mashed new potatoes with House made Worcestershire sauce $20

SWEETS

Chocolate Pudding
With baked-to-order cookies $6

Warm Rhubarb Pie
With buttermilk ice cream $6

"Fudgy" Bundt Cake
Filled with "Manhattan" cream and topped with hot chocolate $6

Fallen Ice Cream Cone
With coffee, pistachio and vanilla bean ice creams $6

Lemon-Ginger Meringue Tartlet
With candied lemon zest $6


One thing I like about the menu -- at least for my tastes -- is that there aren't a lot of starches. Half the meat dishes come with vegetables instead of starches. Even more the case with the fish and veggies.

We ordered the butter lettuce wedge and the rockfish for appetizers. The butter lettuce wedge is a more substantial portion than it appears in my photo, but still not large. Fair for the price, though. It's the wedge of lettuce, topped by an avocado dressing that reminded me a lot of taqueria guacamoles (the smooth kind), but thicker and richer without any spiciness. It did taste like it had, perhaps, some cilantro however. It had a slight bitter component to it, like garlic past its prime. However, my only real complaint is that it was too much on the rich and creamy side and needed a tart component for balance, such as lime. The eggs said they were "soft boiled" but were truly somewhere around an 8-minute egg, I would guess. I think that's a good thing in this case. Some croutons or bacon bits would be nice. Pleasant enough, but no contender with Podnah's wedge.

I think Twitch is right on with his description of the rockfish. The batter was light and nice, but ours was a little under-crisped. The edges were excellent texture-wise, but the steam from the fish inside quickly made the light tan middle part of the crust a little soggy. The flesh inside was tender and moist, almost buttery, but as Twitch said, both were BLAND. That fish needs some salt as does the batter. The malt vinegar mayo was bitter and off-tasting. Neither my wife or I enjoyed it at all. I'd rather toss my fish in ketchup. I liked the slaw, which consisted primarily of fennel and carrots. It was very tangy -- too much so for my wife. I certainly wouldn't have minded if it was toned down. It was like eating a salad of pickled fennel and carrots. Without a big starchy side, I'd say this dish is a bit small to be an entree. I would guess there was 4 ozs (two chunks) of fish and the salad.

For entrees my wife got the fried chicken and I got the duck. Like the rockfish, the chicken suffered from lack of seasoning. It's tough to just add salt to fried chicken or battered fish at the table. Not a fan of the boneless chicken. It gives it a little bit of a rubbery hunk feel. But even with that, this is easily one of the best fried chicken plates I've had in town. Love what cast iron does to a crust where you get a generally golden-brown and deliciousness pocked with darker bits. The crust was thicker than, eg, Ken's Place's, but lighter than Simpatica's. It had a nice crunch yet the meat was juicy. Because of the lack of seasoning, I definitely preferred the chicken WITH the sauce. I would have liked more sauce (but on the side). I didn't think it was very spicy and it was mild enough that it didn't bother my wife at all. It might have been more tangy than spicy, even. Nice mix of creamy, tangy, and spicy. I didn't really care for the braised lettuce. Too delicate for my palate. I like heartier braised greens. I think they were done about as well as they could be, though. It also came with perfectly cooked grilled asparagus. A big step up from Screen Door's fried chicken, a slight step down from Ken's Place's fried chicken. It was a pretty hefty portion, too.

The duck was our favorite savory dish. I couldn't taste much rosemary in the glaze, but the honey gave it a wonderful dark sweetness. The skin could have been more crisp, but it's flavor was terrific. The meat (leg and thigh) slipped easily from the bone with a fork, like duck confit, and was supremely moist. I think the glaze could use a little bit of a bright note, or perhaps a side with a brighter quality, or perhaps some glaze reduced with vinegar or finished with lemon on the side, but that's only a minor quibble in this case. It came with sauteed pea greens in addition to the buttered baby onions. Both were tender, but not mushy, and tasted fresh and delightful. I didn't notice the fennel pollen.

Our favorite dish, though, wasn't made by the chef, but rather the chef's wife: the rhubarb pie. My wife and I have eaten several rhubarb desserts lately. They're one of my wife's favorite things. And this is the best we've had. It started with a great crust, very crisp, flaky, and buttery with a complex and not overly sweet taste. One of the best pie crusts I've had in a while. The rhubarb compote inside was tart and mildly sweet with chunks that still held their shape. The buttermilk ice cream matched perfectly, had a nice dense and creamy texture, and intense flavor. I could have eaten it on its own and been happy.

A good meal overall. There's room for improvement and fine tuning, but this is a great start. This is a lot closer to our house than most quality options in Portland, so I could see us here relatively regularly, especially if things get even better.

Photos:

http://www.extramsg....umName=album648

Posted Image

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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

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#32 Twitch

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Posted 05 May 2007 - 07:59 PM

Why the hell didn't I recognize the fennel...I think my taster's off, because fennel/anise is usually one of my favorite flavors. My beer has been tasting odd today as well.

I wonder what's going with the pie crust though - if we have different preferences or just got radically different instances. I tend to think that you and I are alike on a lot of preferences regarding flavor and texture, so perhaps it was the latter.

I only got one chunk of fish, btw ;_;

I didn't get the braised bibb after seeing them braise it. About a cup of butter with no seasoning - the lettuce just didn't look like it could stand up to that.

They had a compound butter on the line that was made from braised pork shoulder though. Let me find the smiley...oh, there it is :shifty:

#33 PDXWine

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Posted 05 May 2007 - 08:56 PM

I started out with a cocktail, the tulip, made of peach schnapps, coconut rum, and pineapple.

:shifty:

#34 ExtraMSG

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Posted 05 May 2007 - 09:18 PM

I wonder what's going with the pie crust though - if we have different preferences or just got radically different instances. I tend to think that you and I are alike on a lot of preferences regarding flavor and texture, so perhaps it was the latter.


Well, it was a little dense compared to some, but I like an old-fashioned hearty pie crust and get tired of the misuse, imo, of puff pastry for way too many tarts/pies or laziness that results in crumbly crusts (because they're easier) for anything and everything.

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

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#35 Flynn

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Posted 05 May 2007 - 10:48 PM

For entrees my wife got the fried chicken and I got the duck. Like the rockfish, the chicken suffered from lack of seasoning. It's tough to just add salt to fried chicken or battered fish at the table. Not a fan of the boneless chicken. It gives it a little bit of a rubbery hunk feel. But even with that, this is easily one of the best fried chicken plates I've had in town. Love what cast iron does to a crust where you get a generally golden-brown and deliciousness pocked with darker bits. The crust was thicker than, eg, Ken's Place's, but lighter than Simpatica's. It had a nice crunch yet the meat was juicy. Because of the lack of seasoning, I definitely preferred the chicken WITH the sauce. I would have liked more sauce (but on the side). I didn't think it was very spicy and it was mild enough that it didn't bother my wife at all. It might have been more tangy than spicy, even. Nice mix of creamy, tangy, and spicy. I didn't really care for the braised lettuce. Too delicate for my palate. I like heartier braised greens. I think they were done about as well as they could be, though. It also came with perfectly cooked grilled asparagus. A big step up from Screen Door's fried chicken, a slight step down from Ken's Place's fried chicken. It was a pretty hefty portion, too.

Have you even been back to Screen Door since your one visit, Calabrese ExtraMSG? I think you should be sentenced to a year's worth of fried chicken dinners at Bernie's for pimping any sort of boneless fried chicken, sir.

#36 ExtraMSG

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Posted 05 May 2007 - 11:30 PM

I was dubious going in. But it was good.

I've been to Screen Door a few times. I didn't like the chicken, but I like the place fine overall. I've never ordered the fried chicken again, though. I've been at the table with someone who has and it looked the same. It was the concept that was wrong, not the execution. That breading should be on a steak, not a chicken. The breading/skin on fried chicken is important enough to me that I'd rather eat KFC than what I had at Screen Door. I'd definitely rather have Popeye's.

Country Cat has a full bar, so I expect you'll actually give it a try, then you can report back and acknowledge that it's better than your precious Screen Door.

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

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#37 Flynn

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Posted 06 May 2007 - 12:07 AM

Oh sure, go straight for a brotha's drinking problem. Have you no sense of decency?

Hey I like me some Popeye's, and I do like to defend Screen Door, but I honestly haven't ordered the fried chicken there on my last several visits. I'll try to get past my deeply held beliefs that boneless fried chicken is just slightly less of a bad idea than say, Cannonball Run II or Twitch's fabled tempeh reuben.

#38 ExtraMSG

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Posted 06 May 2007 - 12:27 AM

I'll grant you the tempeh reuben, but any movie that casts Charles Nelson Reilly as a mob boss is high comedy. The cast iron skillet is the Charles Nelson Reilly of Country Cat.

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

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#39 jcoll4

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 10:08 AM

Went last night with the family. I like the space. Interesting for us is the kid friendliness of the place. there was lots of kids in attendance, kids menu, crayons etc... eating out with my little one is a challenge. I generally don't go out to a place like this with the boy (he's two) but we sold our house yesterday so we celebrated. service was good, kids food came out fast, I think a bit too fast cuz the kids ate all their food before mine came. Then they got anxious. Its a balancing act.

Wife had the burger, and I sampled. Its not castanga, bun is too thick and bready. meat was very good. no pickles however. the onion rings where tasty. I think with a different bun their burger would be very good.

I had the bacon wrapped trout. I won't get that again. It needed salt in a bad way. and thats funny because people always say I am too sensitive to salt. I always say simpatica's food is too salty. I think the trout was wrapped in bacon and cooked in an oven. the bacon wasn't crisp and I didn't taste any of the bacon flavor in it, broiled away it was. the trout flesh was ok, kinda dry. I don't like fish skin so I would have prefered the trout to have been butterflied and fried with bacon.

any of you eat the trout there?

We'll give it a few more shots because we really want a place like this in our neighborhood.
All I did is say I eggs in a vegan dish..

#40 ZenBoy

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 02:28 PM

That sucks about the trout, that's the menu item that I keep drifting back to, but in my mind it's got crispy bacon on it.