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July 6th, 2005 KELLY CLARKE | Bite Club
 

SUMMER OF S.A.A.D.D.

     
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KRUGER'S FARM
IMAGE: AMY OULETTE
Our culinary standards go out the window once it gets warm. If we could get away with it, Bite Club would broil ourselves in our back yard, sprawled out with a Bud Light in one fist and an Otter Pop in the other, listening to Whiskeytown CDs all summer long. Just thinking of all the gastro-opportunities we should get a jump on gives us a raging case of "Seasonal Appetite Attention Deficit Disorder." Still, here's a crop of food developments that inspires even the Bite to focus on raising our lazy behind off that plastic lounge chair.

We had practically forgotten about the Vista Spring Cafe (2440 SW Vista Ave., 222-2811), a shadowy Fern Bar-meets-gourmet pizza joint hidden in the leafy heart of the West Hills, until we heard the disturbing news that the 19-year-old restaurant had new owners. Gasp! Would tha Hills' moneyed families lose Vista's thick hand-tossed pies decorated with generous lumps of Montrachet or crisp pancetta? Or those spinach salads busting out with fresh berries and cantaloupe? Luckily, no.

The new owners, Josh Walker and Jason Bonfiglio, a pair of 34-year-old Northeast Portland natives and middle-school buds, are intimately acquainted with this cafe: Both worked as servers here a decade ago. "We've come full circle," Walker says. The duo plans on sticking with the old-school staff-a crew that includes 15-year Vista veterans-while Bonfiglio splits his time between their new West Hills restaurant and his other eatery-he owns the bento haven the Red Fig (4537 NE Fremont St., 335-7068). We haven't heard the last of the Vista's former owners: Ben Estes, Ted Douglas and Gary Hutton. According to Walker, the trio's new St. Johns project, Signal Station Pizza, will open soon.

Stumbling out of a sweaty yell-fest at Sabala's at Mount Tabor and right into the salty embrace of one of Zach's Shack's (4409 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 971-235-9888) beefy, all natural-casing dogs at 2:30 am is pure nitrate heaven. But owner Zach Zelinger is about to abandon his late-night outdoor wiener hut. On July 15, Zach's moves two blocks east to better dogs digs at 4611 SE Hawthorne Blvd., a storefront complete with indoor seating, a back patio and-hell, yes-a bathroom. Zelinger also tipped us off that we'd soon be able to order our Coleslaw Dog with a side of beer.

Due to the disturbing proliferation of puppies, strollers and huge-hat-wearing ladies clutching oversized bio-friendly grocery totes, a stroll through the Portland Farmers Market has started to feel like driving the Sunset Highway at rush hour. Escape to Sauvie Island for a little more breathing room and ripe U-pick blueberries, raspberries and marionberries, in season NOW at Kruger's Farm (17100 NW Sauvie Island Road, 621-3489). The bucolic 100-acre paradise kicks off its Farm Tunes outdoor concert series with the twangy torch band Amelia this Thursday. Got more fuel to burn? Head farther out in the other direction to Hood River Valley Cherry Days (www.hoodriverfruitloop.com, 541-386-7697) this Saturday and Sunday, July 9-10. Gorge yourself on all things, well, cherry at more than 25 farms, orchards and vineyards along a 45-mile highway loop. Mind the pits and the potholes.

 
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