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Tuesday Night Dinners

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Caesar Salad at Cafe Castagna.

We have started a tradition of going out to dinner on Tuesday nights. Originally, we were thinking maybe every other Tuesday, but this month went to three places — of course, I am certainly not complaining. We tried two new places: Bar Avignon and Nostrana and revisited an old-standby: Cafe Castagna. This post is mostly pictures, enjoy!

Bar Avignon
2138 SE Division Street
Portland, OR 97202

I liked the food a lot. Also, it was a very cozy space. But, jwa and I were both a little surprised with the vibe. Not really uninviting but not that inviting either. It was weird, the whole time we were there I don’t think I saw any of the staff smile at all. I’m perfectly willing to assume it was just a strange night or something and go back again, though. I really want to love this place. And it’s totally walkable from our house which is a huge score. C’mon, Bar Avignon, cheer up! I think you may be secretly awesome.

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Arty menu shot.

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Ambiance through a water carafe.

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Paprika spiced hazelnuts.

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One of my most favorite newly-discovered prosciutto applications: prosciutto wrapped lettuces with fromage blanc.

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jwa’s meal: a artisan cheese & charcuterie selection with salmon rillettes and a blue cheese.

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Roasted chicken with a nutty, currant-y rice and a cucumber, garlicky yogurt accompaniment. Oh, it was so good!

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Vanilla bean crème brûlée.

Nostrana
1401 SE Morrison St # 100
Portland, OR 97214

Nostrana, Nostrana, Nostrana. I want to like you a whole lot. Really. I’ve heard so many good things and the space was really nice and all and I loved my cocktail. I just wanted more, I think, for the money we spent. I also thought our server was a little condescending, especially when we were just ordering pizzas and salads (put your fancy-pants away, okay?) Also especially when he asked how I liked the radicchio, which I was tentative about, since I normally am not a fan of the bitter lettuces, and then seemed bored by my response that I did actually like it in the salad. Dude! You asked.

I’d totally go again and try the 3-course farmhouse dinner. Just probably not until we go to a few more new places (Laurelhurst Market!) and hit a few more old favorites like Country Cat and Cafe Castagna. So, don’t hate me, but I didn’t love it. Bummer.

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Green Smoke cocktail…it had gin, chartreuse and a few other things along with a smoked salt rim.

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Nice ambiance with tall ceilings and a well-stocked, colorful bar.

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Funghi verdi pizza: shiitake, house mozzarella, pecorino, garlic, lemon oil, arugula.

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Alla fiamma pizza: tomato, red onion, Mama Lil’s peppers, wild oregano, spicy oil, black olives.

Cafe Castagna
1758 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Portland, OR 97214

Speaking of which, when we left Nostrana I really kind of wish we had gotten cocktails, pizzas and salads here instead. So, the next Tuesday we went and had dinner at Cafe Castagna and paid the same amount of money. We also really enjoyed the food, got a server that joked around with us and was very pleasant.

Regarding pizza, I guess it can depends on whether you are more of a crust person or a toppings person. Myself, I am more of a toppings person. Plus, their crust is not bad at all, very light and almost crackery with a nice poof to the edges. Nom-nom-nom.

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Cocktails: Aviation gin martini with one olive and a raspberry lemon drop.

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Arancini: fried risotto balls filled with fontina.

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Gooey, tasty fontina.

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Pizza: summer squash, fresh sheep’s milk cheese, sweet onion and oregano. Very fresh and delicious tasting. I loved it!

10 comments to Tuesday Night Dinners

  • Hello fellow Portlander! I found your blog while looking for recipes to use up all of my green tomatoes which sadly are not quite going to turn red this year. We plan to try your green tomato lasagna soon. I have been dying to go to Laurelhurst Market since they were recently in Bon Appetit. I have only heard great reviews so far… Really like your blog!!

  • mlb

    Hi Lori: Hello! I hear you on the green tomatoes thing. I have a feeling I’m going to be searching out a lot more green tomato recipes in the next month too. :(

    Yeah, Laurelhurst Market is definitely next for us! I can’t wait to try it!

  • I had the opportunity to go to Laurelhurst Market recently! The steak frite was outrageous. The rapini sauteed in olive oil and topped with pecorino and a fried egg was top notch, too. Yum. The hostess and bartender there were a little snooty, but the servers were great. I can’t wait to hear about your visit.

  • Thanks for the neighborhood restaurant reviews. The arancini looked fantastic. Can’t wait to try them. I went to Laurelhurst Market the last time family visited from out of town. I had never heard of the cut of steak I ordered (Piemontese, I think) but the meat was fantastic.

  • mlb

    Alexis & Terrell: I am sooooo excited to try Laurelhurst Market! You both make it sound wonderful! Definitely the next place we’re going to eat out :)

  • OMYGOSH it has been a while! my computer died a year ago, and all my saved daily reading blogs were GONE, and so is my memory, so… ;)

    through some miracle, I was able to resurrect many files just today, and I’m having fun visiting old blogs…

    just wanted to tell you YES go to Laurelhurst Market as soon as humanly (schedulely?) possible. We have enjoyed EVERY meal we have had there… and we’ve had many, as I am already dreaming of the next one while we are still finishing the current. :) In my Top Five Portland favorites. Probably Top Three. :)

    • oh YES ! :) do you use a DSLR? do you take a large camera into these restaurants? I’m too chicken, but I really want to. We had an amazing dinner the other night (Ten 01) and I took photos with my phone, and they didn’t turn out well. :(

  • Absolutely wonderful post, and what amazing pictures you took! I don’t know how you manage to snap gorgeous photos in a restaurant, but you definitely know what you’re doing!

    The one with the funghi verdi pizza, the light, the colors, just superb!

  • mlb

    Kristina & SallyBR: Thanks! I actually have a small cannon powershot A510 that is about 4 years old. It’s not a fancy camera by any means, but it has macro-focus and I was really lucky with the lighting!

    We’ve actually been going out pretty early on Tuesday nights (5pm-ish), so I’ve been able to get great natural light! ;-)

  • My point-and-shoot camera died on me last month, so I’m left with a bigger camera that I don’t know quite how to use yet. Struggles… struggles…

    I look forward to your next dinner out – I’ve been in Portland a couple of times (my sister in law lives there), such a great city!

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