Ex-tapeo chef puts a tavern on the green
Tucked between busy Northwest Broadway and the rapidly encroaching Pearl District, the North Park Blocks encompass a quiet, verdant zone that almost approximates a leafy French boulevard, if you squint hard enough.
All that soothing greenery and the off-track location are precisely what attracted chef Scott Dolich to the restaurant space most recently occupied by Baobab.
In May, he will open Park Kitchen at 422 N.W. Eighth Ave., which no doubt will make the north end of the park blocks significantly less sleepy.
Dolich is just the man to convert a tricky location into a thriving, talked-about business. He was executive chef at Tapeo from February 2001 until last October (Tapeo owner Ricardo Segura has been acting as chef since Dolich's departure). Before that, he was daytime sous-chef at Higgins. He helped Cory Shreiber open Wildwood back in the day and cooked at the esteemed Lark Creek Inn north of San Francisco.
His approach to cooking is simple and self-assured: Start with quality, local produce and protein, and coax maximum flavor with a minimum of embellishments. 'I became very fond of the tapas concept at Tapeo, and my appetizers will reflect that Ñ bold flavors, not a lot of butter and cream,' Dolich says.
Dolich describes Park Kitchen, which will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, as an updated tavern. 'My aspiration is to create a really excellent neighborhood tavern,' he explains. 'My whole style is to take familiar things, deconstruct and reconstruct them.'
To that end, Dolich will put his singular spin on pub fare.
'Everything on the menu will be recognizable Ñ but refined,' he says. 'I'll rely heavily on appetizers and small plates, but it will by no means be a wine bar.'
He's aiming for something more informal, a comfortable spot where you can enjoy a good bourbon and choose from among two dozen hot and cold appetizers. The dinner menu Ñ still in development Ñ also will offer about five or six entrees in the $15-$17 range.
Dinner will be full service, but during the day, workers can stop in for grab-and-go breakfast sandwiches, pastries, panini, pasta and salads. Dolich currently is working on a recipe for his own hot dogs as well.
Those who follow the careers of Portland culinarians will be excited to learn that pastry whiz Ellen McFarland will create and execute the breakfast offerings and sweets at Park Kitchen. McFarland was the pastry chef at Higgins before launching the wholesale pastry outfit Angel Food last year.
The look and feel of Dolich's venture will be 'very Northwest,' outlined in fir and beach-glass tile, with shades of green inspired by the park. Lighter, brighter and better designed than your average pub, Park Kitchen will feature a copper-topped bar and seat about 40.