Monday, July 02, 2012

Quick Hits: Bollywood Theater & Eastmoreland Market

Right after we moved into our NE Portland neighborhood I made a complete food of myself after smelling the intoxicating aroma of smoky barbecue coming from someplace nearby. I wandered down the street, nose in the air, trying to discern from which back yard it was wafting. Fortunately, the surprised neighbor I hailed from the sidewalk was kind enough to offer me a rib rather than sicking his dog on me.

I similarly lose my senses when it comes to the herbs and spices of the various regional cuisines of India. All it takes is a hint of curry or tamarind, and I'm totally in the thrall of their sumptuous richness. Sadly, Portland has very few restaurants that do this country justice, most content to offer copies of the same old curries and stews, dals and raita.

Now comes a glimmer of hope that…be still my heart…we may be blessed with an establishment that truly understands this most diverse of culinary traditions. Troy McLarty, an alum of Chez Panisse and, more recently, at the much-lauded Lovely Hula Hands, has opened Bollywood Theater on NE Alberta, and a recent lunch there with a friend bodes well for the future.

Charmingly appointed with Indian tchotchkes and wall murals, Bollywood Theater does much, much more than get the sound track right. The menu, comprised of small plates of street food as well as curries (called Thali Meals) and vegetable sides, knows its samosas from its chutneys. The papri chaat, housemade crackers topped with chickpeas and potatoes drizzled with yogurt, tamarind chutney and cilantro, were fresh, creamy and crunchy and a great starter to munch on while we decided what else to order.

Goan-style shrimp was several big, juicy, tenderly moist shrimp in a rich coconut chile sauce with saffron rice. The beet salad, chunks of roasted beets with coconut milk and curry leaves, was one of the best beet dishes I've ever had and may be making an appearance here at the house this summer. I have to say that the dal, described as lentils simmered with spices, was a little blah compared to the other dishes but was far from disappointing.

Suffice it to say that this is a great, reasonably priced place to stop in for a snack or meal, and one that may draw you in again with its magical allure.

Details: Bollywood Theater, 2039 NE Alberta. 971-200-4711.

* * *

Another magical place that draws me back again and again to its deep Southeast location is the Eastmoreland Market & Kitchen. Partly it's the Brigadoon-like surprise of finding not just a cute little café buried deep in the tony neighborhood surrounding Reed College, but more because of the consistently outstanding quality of its offerings, almost all of which are made on the premises.

In the morning its a sleepy little meeting spot for parents who've just dropped their kids off at nearby Duniway grade school or a place for dog-walking denizens to get their caffeine on. At lunch there are a dozen or so sandwiches on offer, most served with a side of chips and a wedge of nice pickle, along with deli salads from the case and daily soups.

Afternoons are dedicated to the previously mentioned coffees and menu items, plus beverages that include beer, wines and sodas. There's also the "market" side of the mathematical equation, which offers a broad selection of imported foods, meats and cheeses plus basics like boxed cereals and sundries, and they do a good business in take-out cold cuts and dinners from the kitchen before they close in the early evening.

A lunch stop the other day during one of the aforementioned dog-walking junkets had me ordering the house Cubano (top photo), a hefty roll packed with house-roasted pork, ham, assorted pickled vegetables and aioli that was mouth-wateringly satisfying. My dining and walking companion ordered the bocadillo de calamari (right) featuring fried calamari on a baguette with jamon serrano, manchego and aioli, a nigh-perfect combination of fried crunchiness and tender squid with an underlying smokiness. Wow.

I'd encourage you to seek out this little under-the-radar gem whether or not you've got errands in the neighborhood. It's that good.

Details: Eastmoreland Market & Kitchen, 3616 SE Knapp St. 503-771-1186.


cathy said...

Like you, I've been craving satisfying Indian food here in Portland. I will go to Bollywood Theater. I'm excited!

Kathleen Bauer said...

Hope you find it as satisfying as I did. Let me know what you think!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the kind words regarding our market. I read your blog every week so it was such a nice surprise to see Eastmoreland Market at the top of your page!
You inspire me every time I read your posts and recipes and I have passed on many of your recipes to friends and customers.
I look forward to saying hello next time you are in.
All the best,
Colleen with mary said...

Kathleen, you've done it again..made me hungry to try these new places. Thanks!

Kathleen Bauer said...

Colleen, I love the Eastmoreland Market…I just wish it was closer to our house so I could go more often! And thanks for your kind words about GSNW. It's still a blast to do!

Kathleen Bauer said...

And Mary, let me know what you think of these spots…I'd love to hear your feedback!