Dinner and a Movie. The Dinner: Scratch at Lake Oswego. The Movie: The King’s Speech at Lake Twin Cinema, a small theater that sweetly offers you the option of sprinkling either parmesan on your freshly popped popcorn or nutritional yeast. Note to self: next time I go to the theater maybe I should carry some lil shakers with me.
The pictures are from the dinner, inspired because the chef will be on Iron Chef next month (following the recent footsteps of Naomi of Beast and Vitaly of Paley’s Place in representing Portland and the Northwest. His cuisine is simple, using local seasonal ingredients (which is all that is listed for each item on the menu) and making everything from scratch, naturally.
Appetizers: Bread with soft flavored butter (onion) that they generously refilled as we waited for our entire party to arrive and sipped on our wine; Tuna tartare, capers, sour pickles, lemon, olive oil, endive; Fried stuffed mushrooms with parmesan, gouda, onion, garlic, chile dipping sauce; Trio of cheese that included a triple cream brie, Amish blue, and peppered chevre with housemade crackers, dried dates, 25 Year balsalmic vinegar.
I love flavored butter- though I am not crazy about onion butter necessarily- and the bread was a good neutral zone to balance the slightly greasy fried top of the mushroom so you could appreciate the gooey cheese and woodiness of the mushroom, with just a lil bit of the dipping sauce to bring extra interest. I liked the texture of the tuna tartare, but I was hoping the tuna would have a stronger role in you know, tuna tartare, then all the other ingredients- maybe it just wasn’t a good tuna catch that day, but the textures were very nice- just needed the tuna to be a stronger taste player.
I was really digging the house made toast bread and the blue Amish cheese. The other two cheses were ok but the stronger flavors even in the bread and fruit meant those cheeses faded to the background and out of notice- though if you smeared a little of the vinegar on the triple cream brie it give it a little perk.
Entrees: Stuffed collard greens, lentils, brown rice, yams, potato, onions, tomato. Wild mushroom, leek, black lentils, risotto with parmesan asiago and romano. Snapper with cabbage, oyster sauce, sticky rice, green onion, carrot, bok choy.
My entree, which I can comment on more detail on, was the cod with white wine, butter, olive, parsley, potato, carrot, greens (which was broccolini). After all the risotto and pork of the night before, I wanted something a little lighter- and this certainly qualified. From the list it might seem a simple cod sauteed in wine and butter would be on the plate, but the cod came out lightly fried, almost like a fish a la fish and chips with more gentle breading around the flaky but moist cod.
The potatoes were done perfectly, soft inside but still crispy and firm, with the carrots cooked but not overcooked to also give crunch backbone to the dish. I would have liked a few more stems of the brocollini to just get a little bit more touch of bitter to the dish – I was carefully cutting them into pieces to try to distribute them, even though I usually like to eat brocolli from stem to flower to enjoy the whole texture.
Desserts: Chocolate lava cake, ice cream, berry compote and sugar, and pineapple upside down cake with a coconut mousse and sugar. Beautifully presented, though the lava cake is super teeny (though good) and the pineapple upside down cake was not quite what we thought it would be- and dry like it needed coffee, and it didn’t have that expected glaze that everyone expects.
Scratch also supports gluten-free dining with their small menu with proportions so each dish is just enough for 1 person as you can see from the photos. The atmosphere is small and cozy but straightforward and clean lines- if it had more warmth and coziness rather then control it could be like an American bistro. My impression from this visit is that it reminds me just a simple neighborhood place you stop by and have dinner without worrying about it- it’s not knock your socks off, but it’s comforting while still being modern enough, the kind of stuff you could cook at home but better and coming out more prettily presented then you would do for yourself. It’s like treating yourself but not going overboard so you have reasonable restraint- just right in the middle between fancy and home. Though, none of us at the table ordered the crudite of radishes, smoke, sea salt, and nitrogen charged butter… so maybe there’s more then meets the eye in the monthly changing menu to still be seen, as the description seems to imply a polar take on food from what this experience was for us. It’ll be interesting to see if the spotlight from Iron Chef brings more guests and where they go from there.