Monday, September 03, 2007

Country Cat For City Slickers

If you're someone who thinks that anything good about Portland stops at the west bank of the Willamette and the only time you head east is to go to your ski chalet on Mt. Hood, then you're reading the wrong blog. Readers of GoodStuffNW know that this city, and I mean north to south and east to west, is full of enchanting, surprising and downright amazing places and people.

In the last couple of years, one of the new hot spots for development has been the Montavilla neighborhood along SE Stark above 76th. They have their own farmers market, a Portland status symbol akin to getting a Starbucks in your neighborhood (so last century!), a restored movie theatre (the Academy) that's become a community landmark and some very Portland, very groundswell places like the Bipartisan Cafe, Cellar Door Coffee Roasters and The Country Cat.

Kristin and I wandered into the Cat for lunch after a particularly intense workout last week (or was I just being whiny?), ready to eat anything that wasn't nailed down. The interior tends toward mid-century, with lots of wood and cork used to carry the theme. There's a good-sized dining room on one side and a well-stocked bar on the other, with booths around the perimeter.

The menu is definitely homestyle with an upscale twist and the prices are in the reasonable range. I really wanted to order something large and carbo-loaded but decided on the hickory-smoked duck leg on a bed of spinach salad. Now, they would have impressed me there, but they added balsamic marinated peaches and fresh chevre, which sent the whole dish, and my mouth, into orbit. The tangy sweetness of the peaches, the smoky duck, the creamy chevre and the greens...egad!

Kristin took on their fried chicken sandwich, fried chicken being a signature dish on the dinner menu, and it was definitely something to write home about. Perfectly fried chicken on a homemade bun with caramelized onions and green sauce, accompanied by a farmers market salad of fresh corn, beans and cherry tomatoes. Rich, juicy and meaty with enough oomph to quell those post-workout pangs.

Now I just have to grab the guys and get there for dinner. 'Cause it looks like this cat is going to be a keeper!

Details: The Country Cat Dinnerhouse and Bar, 7937 SE Stark St. Phone 408-1414.

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