Bar Carlo means breakfast and more, on Foster Road

by: Erick Mertz, Bar Carlo is leading the way in brightening up S.E. Foster Road.

The diagonal run west to east down Foster Road is very often a quiet one, once rush hour has passed. There is the occasional fast car, or a roaring motorcycle from the many remaining biker bars in the neighborhood can rise up and steal the silence, but these are rare. Otherwise, there is little on this forty-odd-block stretch that rises to the level of attention stealing.

When Bar Carlo came into the building once occupied by a Russian restaurant, their stretch of Foster Road was particularly quiet. 82nd is a safe mile distant there. The theater next door hadn't run a reel of 35mm film in years. A sewing machine display a block and a half down brought some daytime customers. Across the street, the Plaid Pantry brought in foot traffic, but only stop and go. There wasn't much in the way of an anchor - something to create an identity. It was just another stretch of Foster Road that felt as quiet as can be.

Since the proprietors of Bar Carlo have come into the neighborhood, that quiet doesn't extend to weekends when the brunch crowd yawns its way out the door, into the morning in search of exotic omelets and strong coffee.

Rather than exclusively heading in toward the neighborhoods of Clinton and Sellwood, they come here. With a name like Bar Carlo, it is hard to envision breakfast sausage instead of Italian link sausage - but the former is the new restaurant's specialty. Sure, they also have the latter for lunch and dinner, but they've already proven adept at showing off all the possible combinations for a morning meal.

'Before they came along here,' Woodstock resident Arnie Donner remarks, as he exits the still obscured restaurant door, 'I felt like I had to drive pretty far into town to get my taste of an exciting breakfast.'

Now, residents from Woodstock and elsewhere in Inner Southeast can add lunch to that consideration as well. Bar Carlo provides midday provisions on top of breakfast, adding a similar rustic, fresh local fruit and vegetable mix, or that familiar Italian flavor to the neighborhood's palate.

The ink hasn't even dried on the lunch menus, but the restaurant's culinary team is hard at work, honing down the perfect combination of new and old world flavors. (How does that look? How about a sloppy meatball hero, placed along side a pear and balsamic vinaigrette salad?)

As the restaurant slowly expands (they are building a second room into a store front encompassing the remainder of the block between their door and 65th), assuredly, so will their menu. Dinner fare so far is a simple pizza, sandwich, and pasta offering, and it is available until 10 pm when the bar and restaurant closes. With more space, the possibilities also expand.

'It all feels so close to home,' Donner continues. 'And for me, it is.'

Home: A welcoming place, an idea that's found itself the right niche of the Foster Road neighborhood.