Stay on Target

It has been a long time coming, but the day that we have anticipated is nearly upon us! This summer started with a full business plan, several mentors, and a 10-week Restaurant Business Builders course at Portland Community College.  Around mid-June I was informally approved to start shopping for a cart, and by July I had found the right kitchen. After another month of paperwork, meetings, and board presentations a helpful micro-lender (MESO) signed a check with the business name on it and handed it to me.  Since then it's been a whirlwind of learning, failing, and checking items off the prep list titled “Do Business.” I now know more about grey water systems and plumbing, trailer hitches and towing, and about a hundred other jack of all trades type skills that I didn’t anticipate needing.

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But here we are!  I’m in the kitchen and recipe testing in preparation for the soft opening (hopefully) this third week of August, followed by a Grand Opening at the end of August. Keep an eye on our Instagram feed to catch some tasty bits during the soft opening. We will have plenty of items to share!
 

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I’m looking forward to seeing all of your friendly faces at the 42nd Ave Food Cart Pod.  It's looking great out there with the patio and shared seating with Taco Pedaler. I think this spot is a great fit for our menu and desire to create a truly Portland experience.

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Culinary Stage Tour ‘17

We are relishing the anticipation of opening our cart this Spring ‘18 and are hard at work developing recipes, working with fresh minds, and collaborating with our community. Winter is wet and dreary here and definitely not the up season for food carts.  For that reason, we decided that going on a culinary stage tour would help us keep those creative juices flowing and the continual learning … continuing.

The highest point of elevation in the Midwest is called, "Sears Tower Hill"

The highest point of elevation in the Midwest is called, "Sears Tower Hill"

In early November, Brian started a journey to the Midwest to stage with two well-regarded Chicago eateries. After packing up his Econoline van with scarves, pea coats and wool gloves, he was ready to hit the Windy City for some good ol’ fashion line cookin’. First stop, The Little Beet Table. LBT is a comfortable, vegetable-forward spot located just north of "The Loop." Healthful, gluten-free fare abounds with just the right amount of beef and chicken. The kitchen here was youthful and full of drive to hone their skills on this refreshingly light and nutritious menu. Brian enjoyed the marinated beet dish, which was plated in a ring mold similar to beef tartare, garnished with pepper yogurt, lemon zest, horseradish and hazelnut. 

Gluten-free brunch indulgence from The Little Beet Table featuring French Toast with fresh berries and crème fraiche, sweet potato toast, over-easy eggs and greens. 

Gluten-free brunch indulgence from The Little Beet Table featuring French Toast with fresh berries and crème fraiche, sweet potato toast, over-easy eggs and greens. 

Second stop: Paul Virant’s Vistro. Located in Hinsdale, just west of Chicago in the ‘burbs. Paul is known for his pickles and preserves and both of his restaurants showcase them, bringing a tart contrast to each of his dishes. The kitchen at Vistro had a heavy aroma of experienced industry folk who have found a spot they truly enjoy working at, day in and out. In his time there, Brian noticed Paul’s affinity for a brief retreat from the back of house to mingle with guests, make drinks at the bar, or chat up the local farmer dropping off his weekly delivery. From the top down, as they say.

Paul’s   quinceañera Rajas with pickled peppers

Paul’s quinceañera Rajas with pickled peppers

Favorite experiences of Vistro: 

  1. Adorning a sombrero while making flautas for a quinceañera
  2. Starting a batch of fermented turnips that came from Paul’s parents' garden in Missouri and botching the batonnets (Sorry Paul!)
  3. Dry-aged griddled burger with bacon and pimento cheese

Armed with a list of recommendations from his new friends at LBT and Vistro, Brian set out to indulge in Chicago dining. If you’re from Chicago, you might know some of these spots, if you’re not, well, here's a list of must visits for your next vacation: Dark Matter for coffee and hipsters, Spinning J Bakery and Soda Fountain for the breakfast sandwich on fresh baked English muffin, Boka for some fine dining (double shout out for nailing the service-related questions regarding allergens) and, most of all, Birrieria Zaragoza. The latter is a family-operated spot specializing in braised goat and service that makes you feel like part of the family. Seriously. Norma will come to your table and introduce you to the top tortilla makers in Chicago. Then she’ll send her server home to fetch some of her favorite Mexican dessert bread. And, when she finds out your girlfriend is allergic to gluten, well, free flan on the house. 

Braised Goat, fresh-pressed tortillas, warm salsa and fixins from Birrieria Zaragoza

Braised Goat, fresh-pressed tortillas, warm salsa and fixins from Birrieria Zaragoza

P.S. Shout out to Brian Proctor at The Knickerbocker at New Holland Brewing for his networking. We’re coming for you next time we’re in town!