When Bite Club checked in with Dahlia Cafe owner Karen Harding last Wednesday, she was busy perfecting her spuds. Frying up sweet potatoes, russets and Yukons--with garlic, without garlic, with olive oil, you name it.
That's because next Tuesday, Harding is ditching the Dahlia and reopening the Killingsworth Street diner as the Cup and Saucer Northeast, a sister-spot for her 16-year-old Hawthorne Avenue breakfast standby, the Cup and Saucer. And those spuds are serving as her, well, white flag of surrender.
Harding says she's doubling up her Cups in order to boost the Dahlia's sales and strengthen both cafes' menus. Although the Dahlia has been plagued by reports of uneven service since it opened three years ago, Harding says there was a major "Cup and Saucer dis-fest" when Dahlia's customers heard the news. "They said the Cup and Saucer was boring," she says. "They didn't like its potatoes."
Harding decided to marry the two menus to create a smaller list of offerings that includes breakfast all day. The Killingsworth cafe's biscuits and gravy and those crisp sweet potatoes will make an appearance on a spruced-up Cup and Saucer menu. The Northeast location will inherit goodies like the Hawthorne location's fluffy scones.
And about the Saucer's infamous, soon to be compost, potatoes: "They are bland," Harding admits. "Even I don't like 'em, and I own the place. My mom brings hash browns from Fred Meyer with her when she visits instead of eating them."
In the eastside breakfast civil wars, change is good.
In less palatable news: Bite Club has learned that Chef Eugen Bingham's Italian spot Sala is finito. Surabaya, chef Richard Van Rossum's Dutch-Indonesian taste traveler, has also closed, due to "tough economic times" according to a sweet, detailed message left on the restaurant's phone line. Another chopping-block candidate is Cafe Casanis. Bite Club noticed that the lovely little Northwest Glisan Street bistro, which opened a little over a year ago, has papered its windows and disconnected its phone.
Another Pépin? Claudine Pépin is one of the most talented chefs in the country, Rivers chef Rollie Wesen brags, adding that he was lucky enough to marry her. Now Portland will play host to Claudine's world-famous papa, French chef Jacques Pépin. Pépin will dish about--get this--fast food as part of the "Cooks and Books Visiting Chef Series" all Friday night at Caprial's Bistro. Caprial's Mark Dowers will prepare a feast inspired by the elder Pépin's latest cookbook, Fast Food My Way.
Get yer shuckers at the ready: Dan & Louis Oyster Bar is throwin' a slurp-happy oyster street festival this Saturday. Local chefs will expose locals to the salty goodness of the pearled one, on the half shell ($1.50), pan-fried and whipped up in a gazpacho ($3-$5). But please, Portland, show some restraint when gorging on the sacred shellfish. Bite Club doesn't want to see oyster-pumped gastro-whores dry-humpin' each other in the alley between the Oyster Bar and Berbati's. Ugh.
, 3566 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 236-6001.
, 3000 NE Killingsworth St., 287-4427.
Jacques Pépin at Caprial's Bistro, 7015 SE Milwaukie Ave. Call 236-6457 for reservations. 5-9:30 pm Friday, Oct. 8. $95 per person, $170 per couple. For more information on Portland's "Cooks and Books" series, visit www.kimricketts.com .
Dan & Louis Oyster Festival, 208 SW Ankeny St., 227-0019. 11 am Saturday, Oct. 9.