Monday, June 23, 2008

Abandoned Gimpy Lunch at Castagna Cafe

Well, since Sis went on vacation and abandoned me for over a week, I decided that I should hoop it up! I figured it was safer to party solo anyway, because I was worried she would push me again and break my other foot. Mom decided to come down to help me hobble to different restaurants, so that TableTalkPortland wouldn't collapse and I wouldn't starve!

We started out going to Farmer's Market on Saturday, and after the crowds we were in need of a nice peaceful lunch. So, we headed to Castagna because we love their lunch menu, they have a great patio, and as some of you know we have an "in" with the chef. We were feeling decadent, so we ordered two glasses of rose, Spring Pea Mint Agnolotti, and the Grilled Octopus Salad.

The agnolotti (priest hats in Italian) were delicate pasta gently folded over marscapone, mint, sugar snap peas, and topped with carmelized butter. The smoothness of the cheese and pasta intensify the strong summer flavors of the fesh peas and mint.
The octopus in the salad was so tender and it was served with grilled potatoes and arugula with a light squeeze of lemon... it made Mom and me feel like we were in Greece again.

You'd think we would have stopped at this since it was only lunch, but that is just not the way we roll! Mom informed me that she had not tried the Castagna burger and I almost fell over... it is the BEST BURGER IN PORTLAND I told her, so then she knew she had to have one. At first bite, all I heard was ooooh, yaaaah, it is so tender, what do they do to make their meat tast so fresh, the garlic aioli adds just the perfect amount of spice, the homeade bun, PERFECT- and then she suddenly stopped and said, "You have to take my picture with it- this is the best burger I have EVER tasted." (This might be where Jen and I get our odd obsession of photographing ourselves with food we love... who knows?)

Since I've tried the burger several times, I decided to branch out and try the housemade pastrami sandwich. Castagna's pastrami is perfectly salty and tender like pastrami should be, thinly sliced with a peppered crust, and they put mounds of it on rye bread with swiss cheese and serve it with housemade chips and pickles. I have to say that it definitely rivals the burger!

I was going to leave out that we ordered fresh strawberry shakes out of embarassment about all the food we consumed, but I couldn't do it because the shakes are so creamy and fresh that everyone should try one. Castagna uses housemade ice cream and mixes in fresh strawberries. Mom and I knew we reached a new low (or maybe a new high) when we found ourselves dipping our fries and chips in the shake, and decided that it was the most perfect salty sweet combination in the world.

I may have been abandoned by Sis for this week, but I felt some joy in knowing that Jen was in a place where it was 104 degrees outside and surounded by chain restaurants!


Castagna Cafe* 1758 SE Hawthorne Blvd* 503.231.9959* lunch tuesday - saturday 11:30 - 2pm* dinner 7 nights a week at 5pm* reservations available only for parties of 5 or more

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