An Evening at Castagna {Sponsored}

This post is about Castagna, a local Portland fine dining establishment and is sponsored by Watershed Comm. Although I was compensated for sharing this post, the pictures, thoughts and opinions are still my own.

With Castagna, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew a little about Chef Justin Woodward (only that he had taken over for Chef Matthew Lightner back in 2011 and seems to be gaining steam in his realm as time marches forward. Justin was recently nominated as one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs of 2014 (which you can still vote on now if you’d like!)–Castagna is an exciting fine dining experience that takes you on a journey through many different courses; I’m going to try to give you small, memorable insights through my journey, although I know that food is best experienced by the person, so don’t take my word for it! Try Castagna next time you’re looking for a very nice evening out. This intimate restaurant would make for a great date night.

It’s always an exciting event to see a chef present his talent and ingenuity–it’s easily my most favorite part of the job as one not only learns about the chef, but in many cases about food as well. Recently, a dinner I attended at Castagna, in SE Portland, convinced me I need to play with my food more. The inventive styles of Chef Justin, a young Chef from San Diego (born in Boston), really knows how to consider flavor profile, texture, and color into each nibble and nosh he prepped for the group. I attempted to capture the food to the best of my ability, but if you want to see a really awe-inspiring take on dinner, head over to Aubrie LeGault’s blog post, as she tends to make food even more gorgeous than I remember it. Also my scarf does a cameo in that post 😉

I want to share a little bit about each course (what I experienced and I guess what I would call the profile of each dish), but I want to leave a majority of things up to the pictures. I hope you enjoy!

1. Beet with Tartare Black Truffle

A strong start, this colorful little item was light (almost airy) and had no notable beet bitterness, just a nice color and crunch! The entire menu was centered around light bites. Justin came out of the gate strong.

2. Buckwheat with Avocado and Sprouts

I feel like buckwheat is popping up in a lot of places in Portland right now, and this dish was super simple and fresh.

(INTERMISSION) Bread and Homemade Butter (Hold over)

This little bread plate made me wish I could snack on it all day long. The butter was butter on steroids (it was just amazing), and the bread was warm and thick crusted with a soft white core. There was also a bacon spread from (I believe) Olympic Provisions that was a lovely addition. I just love bread.

3. Puff with Egg Salad and Trout Roe

My favorite dish for its imaginativeness–the puff hides the egg salad underneath the dome, and had a ver interesting mouth feel overall. I would have liked a little more egg salad but I doubt it would have held on to the roof had they added more. Again, this dish was beautifully plated.

4. Onion Terrarium Pea Vines Sunflower Sprouts Winter Cress

Spring is the single word that comes to mind with this dish. It tasted very green. Also, very fresh! For me, it was interesting to have it plated this way, but it sure presented strong and had a lot of people taking pictures of empty cups as they gobbled it up before having the chance to photograph it.

5. Cranberry Leather with Sheep Cheese and Shiso

Back to brights–flexible cranberry leather makes this finger food a little finicky but still a fun, smooth bite. The fruit leather was the highlight, as it was cooked to perfection–not really sticky but not stiff.

6 Satsuma with Espelette

This was like a dessert! I believe the cayenne (or hot pepper) on the top of the satsuma was my favorite addition of the evening–giving a nice nod to the central American cuisines. Mixing fruit with the heat of the pepper made for a nice change in pace as we prepped for the next course….

7. Oyster with Chorizo Char Roe

This was a lovely clean oyster. The chorizo char roe made for a very mild heat–overall found the oyster to be delicate but I would have love some more heat here.

8. Smoked Salmon Wild Ginger Green Apple Horseradish Lime Ice Horseradish Snow

I was surprised with this cold salmon dish–it was very good–and made me want to play with my horseradish at home more.

9. Beef Culotte with Broccoli and Miner’s Lettuce

This is was my favorite savory item of the evening. It was an extraordinary cut of beef and was just so flavorful. While it may be less cooked than some are used to, I would suggest this to all meat eaters. It made me see stars.

10. Huckleberry Chamomile Financier

On to dessert–this cleansing little bowl had a nicely baked item as well as a sorbet-like scoop (and is that more “snow”? Not sure). This dish had some of the most texture I experienced that evening. The baked financier had a thicker crust than I expected but was so pleasantly sweet. I need to plan on adding more sponge cake to my desserts. This little addition was precious and an intelligent addition.

11. Meyer Lemon Brown Butter Ice and Pine

The last piece definitely measured up to the rest. Clean and neat, this Meyer lemon brown butter ice cream was airy and less sweet than you’d imagine.


via TheSpicyBee Instagram

Have you eaten at Castagna? What is your favorite fine dining establishment to visit in Portland?

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