Monday, January 28, 2008

Serving the Neighborhood

I love the idea of a neighborhood grocery. Not to diss New Seasons, which I absolutely adore, but the idea of a little grocery owned by people who live in the neighborhood is a romantic notion, one that hearkens back to small towns where everyone knows everyone's kids (and their pets) by name and everyone attends the local school's open house.

It would carry breakfast cereal and milk, Bisquick and syrup for pancakes, natch, but in my dream it would also have a killer meat counter, imported pastas in my favorite shapes, marcona almonds and other delectable must-haves, plus a great wine selection. Then, if it's not too much to ask, a coffee bar so when it's raining you've got a destination for your dog walk or else Spot's going to be doing his business in the mudhole that's your back yard.

Though this seems like a fantasty inspired by watching too many "Mayberry RFD" reruns, on Saturday I went to a new little store tucked away on a side street in the Eastmoreland neighborhood that fits this description to a T. The e.moreland Market & Kitchen, owned by Pat and Colleen Mendola, was formerly the Eastmoreland Grocery, a fixture in the neighborhood since 1924.

The previous owners wanted to hand it over to people who would carry on the tradition of catering to the neighborhood, but Pat and Colleen had even bigger plans. Having owned the Tuscany Grill, a Northwest Portland institution, Pat was trained at the knee of his Sicilian father and grandfather and Colleen was raised in Spain with the kids of Armandino Batali (one of those kids being Mario of Food Network fame).

With shelves of the aforementioned pastas, hard-to-find Spanish ingredients and all manner of meaty goodness, this place is worth a stop any time you're in the vicinity, and even when you're not. In what will undoubtedly become a quintessentially Portland landmark, it's low-key, unassuming and excellent. And they've only been open a week. Believe me, it's only going to get better.

Details: E.Moreland Market & Kitchen, 3616 SE Knapp, 6 or so blocks south of Woodstock. Phone 503-771-1186.


The Chung Family said...

My friends and I used to buy candy and kool-aid after school at the Eastmoreland Grocery, or as the locals called it, 'The Little Store.'

I was sad to see the store was in transition a few months back; it had been a staple of the neighborhood for as far as I could remember. However, it seems the previous owners have left it in great hands and I'm looking forward to going back!

Kathleen Bauer said...

I remember markets like that from my childhood. I always felt so grown up going in and buying something with my own money.

I think you'll be happy to see its new incarnation.