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Midwest Via East PDX

How To Know If The Food Is The Real Deal

(image courtesy

(image courtesy

Going out to a theme restaurant in Portland?

Heading downtown for some delicious ethnic food? The choices are endless.

Chinese food isn’t the only thing in Chinatown, but it’s a good bet you’ll find a place you like.

Other restaurant tells that let you know where they’re coming from: a checkered table cloth and Italian food, a Greek place and baklava, Japanese and sushi.

What can you expect when you walk into a place that promises “American food inspired by the Midwest?”

That was the question Friday night at the Savoy Tavern and Bistro on 2500 SE Clinton St.  

It won’t be dim sum, the Asian answer to Spain’s tapas, but you still need a guide.

When dim sum carts whizz by tables in a Chinese restaurant, do you know what to choose and what to avoid?

Walk up to a tapas bar and guess the food behind the glass. It takes an experienced diner, or a native of the region, to find the best food on the menu.

For the best Midwest picks, take someone who knows the region better than you.

Savoy offers bratwurst: “Served w/ fennel mashed potatoes, sauerkraut, and stone ground mustard. Add a PBR for a buck!”

Tempting, but not on a Midwestern Friday night with Portland baby boomers.

How about Mac and Cheese: “Cavatappi noodles baked in our vintage white cheddar cheese sauce. Served with your choice of two sides.”

Yes please, but it’s still a Friday night. That means one thing in traditional Midwest culture. Fish Fry!

If you don’t know the difference between English fish and chips and a Wisconsin fish fry, you need help.

So do those who consider the Midwest flyover country. They miss a part of America that works to keep tradition alive. So should your guide.

Here’s a checklist for qualifications:

  • Raised on a farm? (Extra points for yes.)
  • Knows how to cook? (Bonus points if you’ve had her food.)
  • They are a fearless foodie? (Chinese food, Greek food, Italian, and sushi for good measure.)

The Friday night docent for Savoy’s scored 100% in all categories.

Her sound advice came to three menu items:

1. Fried cheese curds – Deep fried Wisconsin cheddar cheese curds.

2. Kale saladLacinato kale w/ toasted pine nuts, parmigiano-reggiano, and dried currants tossed in a honey balsamic vinaigrette. 

3. Friday fish fry – Savoy’s take on a Wisconsin tradition upheld since 1848. Tender wild-caught cod, beer-battered, deep fried and served atop a pile of french fries w/ our house made coleslaw, tartar sauce, and applesauce.

With her green light for authenticity glowing, the food at Savoy’s showed up like a strong hand shake and a hearty slap on the back.

Would you expect anything less from the Midwest?

After dinner, we put on our hats and strolled the neighborhood on a beautiful Portland night with visions of cheese.





About David Gillaspie
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