Farm Spirit 10th Visit — Portland, OR (3/2020)

My prior visit had been about 5 month ago, so I was looking forward to seeing what would be on the menu for this early spring visit.  I really liked the experiences that I had, and this was only my 3rd visit to their newer location.  As before, the meals are pre-paid upon securing a reservation.  Beverages (either the wine pairing or non-alcoholic pairing) can also be pre-purchased, or one can decide to select an option upon being seated.  I again opted for the non-alcoholic pairing.

The meal started off with a tea made from nettles blended with smoked kombu and smoked burdock broths and Lapsang tea for a nice savory introduction to the evening.

The first beverage pairing was spruce tips and loganberry kefir with a light ginger soda.

Up next was a plate of Cascadian snacks:  potato chips dusted with lacto-fermented pickle powder, fried  and finished with pickled onion powder; crispy curry leaves with sunchoke chips; kale chips dressed and with nutritional yeast and dried; oat cracker with a confit of yellow chanterelle mushrooms and a pea tangle; salted and marinated savoy cabbage topped with grated raw beets mixed with lime leaf, garlic and koji, and topped with tasted pumpkin seeds and dried za’atar (an herb); charcoal-grilled leeks peeled, chopped and marinated with seaweed emulsion and pickled mustard seeds, and topped with seaweed kombu jelly and the dark cracker on top made from the charred outer shell of the grilled leeks mixed with fennel pollen.

The next beverage was based on smoked huckleberry, smoked peaches, and Lapsang Souchong tea kombucha.

The next course was a layered pancake made of grated root vegetables (beets, rutabaga, carrot, potato and leek) and chickpea flour.  On top were a few vegetable sauces:  smoked beet, fermented turnips, fermented turmeric. All this was topped off with a piece of beet and a nasturtium leaf.  This was a very flavorful dish.

The next beverage was a blend of smoked hops with sugar, water, sugar and a few kefir grains for fermentation and mixed with a strawberry vinegar.

The salad presentation featured red chicory with purple mizuna, salad, Mausch Family Farm greens, Asian pear, and sunflower seeds. It was dressed with a vinaigrette of Pinot Noir and buttered rose petals.  Additional sauces underneath included a Pinot Noir and beet sauce and a sunflower praline sauce.

For the full write-up, click here.

Farm Spirit 8th Visit — Portland, OR (8/2019)


It had been about a year since my last visit to Farm Spirit.  I had shifted my trips to the Northwest to Seattle.  In doing so, I had forgotten how much I liked Farm Sprit.  In the meantime, they moved to a new location on a parallel street not far from the original location.  They have a bigger space, so there are tables where diners can make reservations  (which are taken on a staggered schedule).  The food is still served in a tasting menu format.  Additionally, there is a Chef’s Counter in front of the kitchen where they have two seatings an evening of 8 (they will accept solo diners).  The menu is slightly longer with a slightly higher price than at the tables. Pre-paid reservations are taken via Tock.

Upon seating us all, they started by offering a small bottle of cantaloupe and currant kefir.

The pairings offered were shown on the first page of the menu.  I had pre-ordered the non-alcoholic pairings.  You can decide at the restaurant for a selection, if desired.

Next, they served a piece of Tabor Mill rye grain bread with aubergine “butter”, which had some roasted eggplant ash and breadcrumbs sprinkled on top.

This was soon followed by a plate with a baked potato glazed in shitake mushroom gel and topped with summer flowers and herbs (including dill), a strip of roasted yeast emulsion, a torched cucumber with wildflower vinegar and topped with a foraged flower, and pickled mouse melons (which are a type of cucumber).

The first beverage pairing was a rose petal and black pepper kombucha.

This first real menu course was tomatoes torched then peeled.  These were sauced with a tomato dashi made with the tomato skins and scraps, dried mushrooms and seaweed. Succulents, including Malabar spinach (not a true spinach but has a similar flavor), purslane and sea beans, were the garnishes on top.  Just underneath the garnishes were some gypsy pepper purée and pickled mustard seeds.  The combination made for a very tasty dish, especially with the finishing touch of seaweed and lime oil.

For the full write-up, click here.

Farm Spirit 3rd Visit — Portland OR (10/2016)


I managed to find the time to make a Fall visit to Farm Spirit.  There were some physical changes to the space.  But they had also changed the format, which I did not realize.  When booking, I had noticed that the early seating was cheaper than the late seating.  I figured this was just reservation management, but I found out that the earlier seating had a smaller number of courses. When I bought the ticket for the dinner, I also pre-purchased the alcoholic pairings.

They put up some new shelving since the last visit.

We started out with some homemade rye bread and olive oil butter.

This was followed by mushroom tea, which was made by steeping dried porcini mushrooms and adding a little bit of chive.

The next dish was a kohlrabi taco, made with a kohlrabi slice and filled with walnuts spiced with cumin and allium, cultured cream made from pepita (pumpkin) seeds and some cilantro for garnish. This was a nice combination of crunchy texture and creaminess.

The next course was a herb fritter made with flour and kohlrabi shavings, with dill and fermented sunflower cream.

For the full write-up, click here


Next up was a beet salad with roasted golden beets dressed with pinot noir vinegar and hazelnut oil, and garnished with, fermented mushrooms and fried hazelnuts, smoked kestrel beet purée, komatsuna (Japanese mustard spinach), and a yogurt made from hazelnut milk enriched with fermented mushrooms.

Castangna 2nd Visit — Portland OR (7/2016)


On this mid-summer return to Portland, I debated whether I was going to go back to Castagna for a second visit.  I decided to go back because I didn’t really find any other place that I wanted to go to, and it was summer, so I wanted to see what the offerings would be.  A few days before my arrival, I was able to book an early-evening reservation for that Saturday night.  Again, there were two menus to choose from and a variety of wines.

I went with the full Chef’s Tasting menu and a glass of Chardonnay from Mâcon.  Just as before, they offered an alternative/additional selection for the main meat course.  Instead of the pork (or in addition to), I could choose to have Japanese wagyu beef.  I asked about the pork, and it seemed like something I would like anyway, so I opted to decline the beef this time.

The first presentation was a refreshing “cocktail” course, with Hendrick’s gin, shiso leaf oil, and melon and cucumber juices.

The next snack was albacore tuna tartare in a kohlrabi wrapping and finished with fennel blossom, micro-basil leaf and basil oil.  This was a nice, creamy and crunchy bite.

For the full write-up, click here.

Farm Spirit 2nd Visit — Portland (7/2016)


My first visit to Farm Spirit was in the late spring. I wanted to come back during mid-summer to see the full range of ingredients that they would be using to construct their menus.  I had booked a reservation for the late seating on a Friday.  A few days before I was scheduled to be there, I received an email from the chef asking for a favor – could I switch to the earlier seating because someone during my seating needed an extra seat at the last minute for a family member.  Since my schedule was flexible, I readily agreed.  The party was so grateful, that they paid for me to have the wine pairings with my meal.  As I had already pre-ordered the non-alcoholic pairing (which I really wanted to have), I opted to have both pairings with dinner.

The meal started with a carrot snack.  This was carrot custard with carrot tartare in the middle.  On top was carrot foam, carrot leaf and a carrot flower.

The beverage pairings were a blueberry spritzer made with blueberry vinegar, juniper and herbs and a Crémant de Loire (sparkling wine from the Loire region in France).

For the full write-up, click here.

Castagna — Portland OR (4/2016)


After booking my reservation at Farm Spirit, I searched for modernist cuisine restaurants in Portland.  Castagna came up as a possibility.  They were bookable on and had availability for my free night, so it was easy enough to get a reservation.  I have to apologize for the sub-optimal photos.  This was my first use of a new camera which was supposed to allow for better pictures, but I obviously have to learn how to use it first!

The restaurant offers two tasting menus:  a Chef’s tasting menu and a Seasonal tasting menu.  The latter is a subset of the longer menu. During the reservation process, they ask if you know which menu is your probable choice.

They offered one buy-up option on the menu:  Japanese A5 wagyu beef could be substituted for the listed beef course for an additional $35.  I selected that option.

The dining environment was a standard white-tablecloth modern setting.

For my wine choice, I selected the white Burgundy they had paired up with the halibut.

The meal started with several snacks.  The first one was a beet chip, presented as pictured on the left.  I turned it over to reveal the smoked beef tartare.  There was a little bit of spicy hotness at the end.

For the full write-up, click here.

Farm Spirit — Portland OR (4/2016)


I saw a short write-up on this restaurant just after it opened and decided I wanted to try it.  The cuisine is billed as fine-dining vegan, with an emphasis on using local ingredients.  They only serve a tasting menu with two main seating times (split into two sub-seatings).  They use Tock as their booking system and dinners are pre-paid.  You can pre-pay for the wine pairings or decide to order it when you dine.

The venue is all counter seating, where each sub-seating can handle up to six people (or maybe more with the two chairs at the end).

Obviously the menu is vegetarian only, but they did ask if I had any allergies.

There was a menu and place card for each place setting.  The reverse side of the menu had the pairings choices.  For this meal, I opted for the non-alcoholic one.

To get us started right away, they served a hot Whistle Red Fife roll with Oregon Olive Mill Arbequina olive oil and Jacobsen sea salt. Red fife wheat was the preferred bread wheat in North America in the 19th Century.  The bread was softly crusty on the outside and chewy at the same time.

For the full write-up, click here.