Friday, January 26, 2018

Hidden Gem: Milwaukie Cafe and Bottle Shop

When I started writing Good Stuff NW almost twelve years ago, I had no agenda in mind. It was simply an exploration of the blog form as a useful tool in a marketing toolbox, marketing and advertising being my profession at the time. I wrote about this and that, convinced that no one but maybe my mom and a couple of friends would ever know about it (or care).

In those early years I wrote about trips to Seattle or a visit to a restaurant, maybe throwing in a farmers' market shopping trip or two. Definitely recipes and pictures of our first Corgi, Rosey. Gradually the blog took on a life of its own, gaining a small audience and a couple of calls from editors asking if I was interested in writing for them. A column on farmers' markets, a profile here and there.

Look for the mural.

Eventually, as I learned about the concerns of Oregon farmers and the hard work they do to bring food to market, those concerns started making their way into these posts. Restaurant visits waned somewhat, and reports from the legislature in Salem and other issues began to take precedence. (Recipes and Corgis remained.)

But once in awhile I run across a truly remarkable spot, a hidden gem if you will, that deserves mention.

A friend and her husband recently moved to the Milwaukie area and, wanting to meet for coffee, she suggested the Milwaukie Cafe and Bottle Shop, located off  the (or any) beaten track in the Ardenwald neighborhood east of Sellwood. The nondescript stucco building would be easy to miss were it not for the large, colorful mural adorning its side wall, attributed to the talents of Jerry Schmidt and the North Clackamas Arts Guild.

Funky but sincere is one way to describe the ambience of the place, but a glance at the menu ran up against my initial hippie-homey impression. Polenta bowls? Brisket and collards? Homemade biscuits?

What have we here?

I ordered a coffee—Water Avenue is their bean of choice, another "Hmmmm…" moment—and a biscuit with butter and honey. A plate soon arrived, the biscuit halved, the top aslant, brimming with butter, swimming in a pool of honey. A bite through the crunchy crust, a light, buttery, not-too-salty crumb, and I was in.

Checking the website for more info, I found it's the result of the collaboration of two Portland food names, Chauncey Roach and Shea Pirtle, both Nostrana alums with long resumés in local food. So, friends, before the word gets out, I'd get in while the getting's good. The location may keep folks from flocking in too quickly, but I'm pretty sure it'll hit the skillet soon.

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