Friday, July 8, 2011

Sardine a la Plancha


Evoe is one of my very favorite places in Portland.  Sadly it’s off my beaten path, so I don’t get there as often as I’d like. But this past week a couple of high school friends were visiting, and we went to see the Hat Museum (if you like hats it’s worth a visit). Biggest one in the states. And also conveniently close to Evoe.

I recently picked up Jen Stevenson’s new book, 100 Best Places to Stuff Your Faces. It’s about, well, you guessed it, places to eat in Portland.  Practically every listing is one I would have included or one I’ve been wanting to try.  For each listing she includes ‘must eats’. I’m especially enjoying those, since they’re generally different from my ‘must eats’. But at Evoe, Stevenson does point you to the artichoke, fennel, and guanciale salad. And I would as well.

Unless your visit goes as mine did. You sit down at the counter and look up at the blackboard for a while, and scan the piece of paper with sandwiches listed (another of my must eats: the Gallego, a sardine, fennel, and pepper sandwich).  After a few minutes, owner/chef Kevin Gibson leans over and asks what’s it going to be.  I did notice ‘sardines a la plancha’ on the board, and asked about them.

“The sardines just came in this morning. I’m opening them and taking out the backbones, and grilling them flat. Serving them with a little celery salad and some olives.” 

Ordering was a no-brainer. The sardine was perfect—Gibson tossed some blanched celery with nothing more than salt, olive oil, and lemon juice. The sardine lay down next to the salad, its tail resting on top. Some olives on the side. After putting the plate in front of me, Gibson leaned over and sprinkled a little salt on top of the sardine. Exactly enough.

When it comes to eating, often my favorite things are the simplest. Evoe’s sardine a la plancha was just that--my favorite thing this week, and the simplest. The sardine’s pure flavor complemented only by a little salt. Offset by the celery salad (I’m going to have to make this salad at home for my own lunch) and some olives. Oh. And a glass of Rosé.

3731 SE Hawthorne
Portland, OR (503) 232-1010
Last I checked, Evoe is open Wednesday through Sunday, from noon to 7.
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