It’s not difficult to find restaurants serving local produce in a foodie, environmentally conscious city like Portland, but few establishments can boast of their own farm. Two years ago, Meriwether’s Restaurant, a nine-year-old business in Northwest Portland, started operating Skyline Farm, a five-acre plot of land twenty minutes from the restaurant. After starting the venture in 2011, the proprietors have conducted two successful harvests and have served over 15,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables at their restaurant. The tiny farm can provide about 75% of Meriwether’s produce during the peak season. This year, some highlights from the garden include Green Zebra Tomatoes, Painted Mountain Corn, Seascape Strawberries, Mexican Sour Gherkins, and Chiogga Beets.
The dinner offerings fluctuate weekly, depending on seasonal inspiration. On a late February evening, the menu included a Skyline Farm Beet Salad with feta cheese, baby greens, and almonds. The magenta-hued chunks of beets contrasted the creamy tang of feta and the refreshing bite of freshly harvested greens. Crisp apple slices and jeweled pomegranate arils decorated a green salad, blending with Oregonzola cheese and decadent candied walnuts in a celebration of the season. A butternut squash risotto maintained the integrity of each rice grain and tender bite of squash, complemented by maple bacon and a luxurious swirl of goat cheese. Dinner guests basked in the malfatti, plump ricotta dumplings laced with farm-sourced kale and painted with a light, buttery chestnut sauce. From the leek fondue accompanying the comforting short ribs to the golden potato gratin supplementing the smoked paprika chicken, local, fresh vegetables dominated the menu.
An increasingly global market means that, even in the dead of winter, one can purchase kiwi from New Zealand or pre-cut pineapple spears from Chile, but no travel-weary tropical fruit can compare with the pleasure of earthy, vibrant lacinato kale cut a few hours before. Meriwether’s Restaurant exemplifies the farm-to-table mantra that is sweeping the nation, spotlighting seasonal produce to create a memorable, sustainable dining experience. If you should choose to experience Meriwether’s fine dining first hand, be sure to sample a few small plates that can be shared around the table under the Pantry Board section of the dinner menu. Pay special attention to the chickpea fries, Oregonzola dates, and cheese and honeycomb. Although some may consider the Meat, Fish, and Fowl entrées the highlight of a meal, Meriwether’s tasteful array of pastas, grains, soups, and salads provides exciting, delicious, and adventurous takes on dishes that won’t break the bank.
2601 N.W. Vaughn Street
Meriwether's Restaurant. Web. 24 Feb 2013. http://www.meriwethersnw.com/home.html