Our club-wielding ancestors would have a rough time making chicken tenders the Cultured Caveman way. Considering Paleolithic hominids couldn't reliably control fire, they'd have to hand-mill coconut flour and wait for lightning to heat their tallow.
OK, so maybe Joe Ban and Heather Hunter's two Cultured Caveman carts don't cook exactly what Fred Flintstone ate. Their Kickstarter-funded outlets on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard and Northeast Alberta Street serve up a modern refashioning of the hunter-gatherer diet of millennia past that eschews grains, dairy, soy, legumes and processed foods. Rabid flocks of CrossFitters swear by this beef- and bacon-heavy diet for their taut bods, so let's let historical accuracy slide. But those chicken tenders ($5)—three slightly soggy cuts in a grease-stained paper bag—didn't convince me to give up the last 10,000 years of culinary evolution.
The salads (each $3) are better. Though both—a sprightly jumble of carrots, kale and cabbage with a lemony dressing, and another with beets, jicama and walnuts—had grown a tad soggy, they remained flavorful. But the meat chili ($5) is champion. Thick with tangles of beef and pepped up with tomatoes, cumin and oregano, it's a comforting winter dish.
Other meaty soups aren't up to the same standard. The bone broth ($4) is made from marrow and collagen-loaded knuckle bones. Like an enthusiastic naturopath hawking nutritional supplements, Hunter detailed the myriad health benefits. "And it'll give you lustrous skin," she promised. Vainly, I ordered a bowl. But knocking back a few spoonfuls of the pressure-cooked, dark brown broth left a medicinal slick on my tongue. Sorry, skin. Me want more chili.
- Order this: Grass-fed meat chili ($5).
- Best deal: Bacon-wrapped dates, stuffed with a raw almond ($1, or three for $2).
- Iâll pass: Bone broth ($4).
EAT: Cultured Caveman is at 1477 NE Alberta St. and 4031 SE Hawthorne Blvd., culturedcavemanpdx.com. 11 am-8 pm daily. $.