Having worked for Marsee and Great Harvest, I'm a bit particular about pastry. Mehri's [Little Flower Bakery & Deli] muffins are amazing and her strudel unrivaled. Also best cakes and quiche EVER.
-Kelli Clark (no relation-really!)
Self-taught baker Mehri (pronounced Mary) Gaspeed's Hippie cookies and apple-packed strudel taste deliciously...familiar. Usually she's up at 2:30 am, crafting wholesale delectables for businesses like the Rheinlander and the Nordstrom Cafe. Then this cheerful lady spends all day tempting the denizens of Southeast Portland with puckery, mini-Marionberry pies ($3.50) and meatloaf sandwiches at her tiny, lime-green bakery/deli. And about those muffins: It took Bite Club an hour to finish off a spicy pumpkin muffin sprigged with dried cranberries and walnuts at Gaspeed's well-loved space last week. We had our mouth too full of adjectives like "sinfully moist," "not too sweet" and "addictive" to swallow.
Your Gourmet looks to be owned, operated and supported by one man. I had apple- and pear-stuffed pork loin last time. This time I am enjoying ribs with red beans and rice...both meals cost me $5.50 each. It's a microcosm of big restaurant world in one man's dream. Bachelors like me want badly to see it stay open.
Mike Betteridge, the frugal gourmet behind this operation, has a simple manifesto: "Good food for good prices." Hungry neighbors stop by on their way home from work to nab tender, gravy-drizzled pot roast from this former Embassy Suites banquet cook. Other regulars perch atop a Paul Bunyan-sized picnic table to tackle paper plates heaped with herby roasted half-chickens and mountains of mashed potatoes. This diner doesn't have a deep fryer or a credit-card machine-hell, off-the-gridder Betteridge doesn't even have a bank account. But his weirdly appealing spot does have an awesome, rotating cast of slow-cooked, Ozzie and Harriet supper favorites, each costing less than $6. Eyeball the Safeway ads if you wanna know what Betteridge will cook up next. "I wanna do lamb shanks soon," the coupon-clipper told Bite Club. "But they haven't gone on sale yet."
I noticed a sign for the Sellwood Public House. I went up a long stairway...a marvelous aroma filled the air! ...it was a pizzeria! I order my New York-style pizza pie and took my first bite and I thought I was in pizza heaven!
"It took 6,000 pounds of flour to make that crust," sighs Public House owner/cook Kevin Hutchinson, a pastry chef who fell for the pizza arts when he lived in Brooklyn. The Portland native's hard work has paid off. His two-month-old restaurant, a rambling Cheers-like brewpub/wine bar that looms over Sellwood's antique row, is regularly inundated with transplanted East Coasters looking for a cheesy fix. Diners line up to order the joint's basic New York or Gourmet pizzas (made with heathen toppings like artichoke hearts and feta), fresh by the slice or full round. But Hutchinson's wife and restaurant co-owner, Danielle, mentions that diehard pizzaheads are a rowdy crowd. "We just remind them that we have New York pizza," she says, "not New York attitude."
Mehri's Little Flower Bakery & Deli, 6923 SE 52nd Ave., 788-9600.
Your Gourmet, 8000 NE Glisan St., 257-6646.
Sellwood Public House, 8132 SE 13th Ave., 736-0182.