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Restaurants & Bars 14

PDX - Cafe Castagna (Or, Frites Don't Fail Me Now)...

Marshall Manning | Jun 30, 200512:34 PM

We went to Cafe Castagna with a group of 9 local wine lovers last night and had an excellent meal. We started by ordering two pizzas, the asparagus, egg, speck and pecorino and the fennel sausage and lacinato kale pies. The sausage and kale came first, and since their was "an issue" with the other pizza, the chef sent out a complimentary dish of beautiful agnolotti that must have been on the restaurant menu, as it wasn't listed on the cafe menu. Mistakes occasionally happen in restaurants and this is the perfect way to alleviate them...don't just make the table wait, but offer them something else that will interest them and hold their attention.

I'm not generally a veggie guy, but the kale on the pie was an interesting and tasty touch, and it looked like it had been sauteed in butter as the texture was lightly crispy like sage that has been sauteed. The kale and sausage pie was my favorite, but the asparagus and egg pie was very good too, and would probably appeal more to those who really like favorite bites were those with no asparagus and lots of speck.

I ordered a rabbit and tarragon paté as a palate "cleanser", and it was excellent, with lots of rabbit flavor and a nice balance between creamy and chunky texture. Paired with the very spicy house mustard and bread, this was an excellent match with a couple of the Burgundies on the table.

A large number of us ordered the burger, myself included, and I'm glad to report that it's still the best café burger in town. Cooked medium-rare, nicely pink in the center, with intense flavor and good juiciness, but not greasy. I added bacon and swiss to mine, and dressed it with the house aioli, a light dab of mustard and two slices of Walla Walla onions...and boy did it hit the spot, especially washed back with '97 Voge Cornas. And despite my love for the burger, I saved the frites for last...they are simply the best fries in town, no ifs, ands, or buts. Thin, perfectly cooked, with crisp outsides and creamy insides, I can't imagine a better French fry. I could probably eat a pound of the frites. Even if you don't order the burger, order the frites on the won't regret it!


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