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Sympatico now offers dinner in a new space

by: Carole Archer, Fifteen-month-old Ethan Cron takes a nap in dad Keenan Cron’s arms as they pose with mom, Rebekah Cron, in the family owned Gresham restaurant Sympatico. The couple stand in the newly renovated Renaissance-themed space, which added 1,000 square feet and seating for 35 customers.

Gresham resident Keenan Cron admits that he is not a formally trained cook. But as the co-owner and head chef at Sympatico Bistro and Espresso, he believes that his talent for cooking and creating unique menus is 'divinely inspired.'

And Sympatico celebrated its return to business after a recent expansion by adding Keenan's own dinner menu that, he says, will add a whole new level to the bistro's many dishes.

Sympatico, located near the northern end of historic downtown Gresham, offers dinner from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.

Keenan, who co-owns the bistro with his wife, Rebekah, says they had always wanted to add a dinner menu to the bistro. When the neighboring Twisted Vine gift shop moved out of the building, they decided to buy the additional 1,000 square feet and expand.

The resulting remodel, which took place in October 2007, added 35 seats and a larger kitchen where the customers can see and smell their food being prepared - a contrast to when the kitchen consisted of hot plates and an outside barbecue, Keenan says.

'We went from camping to a full-on kitchen,' he says.

The Crons finished the major renovations on the building in about two weeks with much help from their family and friends. The couple's 15-month-old son, Ethan, even helped out on the long days and nights by keeping everyone smiling.

Sympatico specializes in European-style dishes with a mix of influences from France, Spain and the Mediterranean region. The bistro's decorations, from the wrought iron candleholders and Medieval-style crosses on the walls to the fountain and glass-top tables imported from England, reflect the European food and a relaxed atmosphere.

The Crons are also open about their religious faith and hope that the bistro reflects fellowship and comfort.

'Traditionally, a bistro is a place where a community gathers to have good food and fellowship together,' Keenan says. 'So we're hoping that we can have that here where it's a real community place.'

And all of the dishes at Sympatico, from the sauces and soups to the main entrees, are homemade. They use as much local and organic food as they can, Keenan says.

'We've always sought to have the best food, coffee, beer, wine,' Keenan says. 'We're offering high-quality of all our foods to people without charging them a really high price.'

The portions also ensure that the customers don't leave hungry, Rebekah says.

The new dinner menu is from recipes that Keenan created, with prices varying from $9 to $24.

Besides the pasta dishes, gourmet sandwiches, and soups, there are a number of entrees like the 'Rib Eye and Marsala… Oh My!' dish, a rib eye steak with melted gorgonzola and Marsala mushroom sauté served with a balsamic reduction sauce and with Garlic de Provence potatoes.

And there's the 'Crab Cakes and Sea the Scallops' dish, which offers crab cakes and sautéed scallops served with lemon chive hollandaise sauce and roasted garlic wild rice.

The Crons also plan to start serving local wines and beers with dinner. They would also like to add around 30 seats to the patio during the summer and eventually have live music, Keenan says.

If you go

Sympatico, 1000 N. Main Ave., is open for breakfast and lunch from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday and for breakfast only from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, call the bistro at 503-489-0979.