December 2nd, 2009 5:33 pm | by KELLY CLARKE News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP

Merry Meatmas: Olympic Provisions is Open For Biz

Olympic Provisions 1

Olympic Provisions,
the Clyde Common crew's happy-making new charcuterie, wine and food spot, opened for biz today in a sun-filled corner of the Olympic Mills Commerce Center in Southeast Industrial—officially marking 2009 as the year Christmas came early for Portland's meat lovers.

You'll recognize a lot of CC-isms here, from the polished concrete floors to the wide open kitchen. But, OP gets bonus points for subway tiles, a giant light up MEAT sign (the "M" blinks off and on in time with the dishwasher's cycles) and a soon-to-be USDA approved cured meats making facility behind a door marked "Meat Dept." It's a homey, charming and chic space that already feels like it's been slinging executive chef Jason Barwikowski's addictive, crunchy-savory apple, pickled fennel and confit chicken sandwiches (piled high on a Pearl poppyseed bun for $7) for years.

A positively beaming new co-owner, Nate Tilden, gave me a sneak peek at Olympic meat man Elias Cairo's shop (see photo of Cairo, above), which they hope to have open for biz by next week. The crew did the build out on the space all by their little selves (Tilden is a welder), including a big proofer room (see photo, below) where they can hang dozens of pancetta and salami to cure at 90 degrees for four days at a time.

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The wholesale cured meat biz is a huge focus for Olympic Provisions, and Tilden says the crew is excited to be able to innovate and try out new kinds of sausages—under the watchful eye of their USDA inspector, who is required by law to drop the facility every single day. Tilden says he dreams that one day the operation will grow popular enough to expand to the basement of the Mills building, joking with Cairo about his vision of an army of chefs and workers trundling carts of cured goods down the halls and up and down the freight elevator like some meaty Willy Wonka factory.

But back to reality: on the retail side, Tilden promises fun stuff like weekend butchery classes and curing demos sometime soon, but right now the focus is on lunch from 11 am-4 pm Monday-Friday (dinner is on its way, he says).

For now, that'll keep us all busy. Although a kitchen sink soup brimming with everything from fatty pork rinds to escarole and chickpeas could have used more salt, a hearty-yet-delicately spiced pâté de campagne—sprigged with crunchy pistachios—was already spot on. A rasher of house-cured Tesa, a kind of Italian bacon, positively melted over a mound of brown lentils. And then there's small servings of fois gras filled quail, griddled brioche n' cheese sammies and mushroom chive tarts to be tried next time. Everything is a la carte, and not a thing is priced over $8. Lounge on the soft faux leather banquettes while you eat or grab a sausage and other meat treats to go along with a bottle of wine.

Merry Meatmas, everybody.

Olympic Provisions, 107 SE Washington St., 954-3663,

Sub par quality photos of Elias Cairo at work in the Olympic Provisions kitchen and Nate Tilden showing off his super cool proofer by Kelly Clarke.
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