Before heading out to Portland I solicited suggestions from some locals as to where a comfort food favouring fellow such as myself might grab a plate of delicious, down home goodness in their town. I got a number of responses suggesting Screen Door, and after a quick menu search I was sold.
When we were deciding on what area of Portland to stay, we picked our hotel based on its proximity to many different restaurants and pubs but sadly, the Screen Door was not one of those. So this is one of those instances where having a rental car comes in much more handy than relying on public transportation or taxis. We could have made it there on the bus, but having travelled from Edmonton that day already and checking into the hotel…. well let’s just say I wouldn’t have been up for a 30-35 minute bus ride plus even longer coming back. Laziness would have won the day and I wouldn’t have gone.
Seeing as it was a scant 12 minute drive in air conditioned comfort, off we went to sample some of Screen Door’s southern offerings.
We arrived a mere 10 minutes after the restaurant opened, and it was easy to spot as we drove by because it was the only restaurant we had seen with a line-up snaking around the corner and down the street. That’s a good sign, but a little discouraging at the same time. Thankfully the line moved quickly as the restaurant hurried to get people seated in a manner that wouldn’t overwhelm the kitchen and the wait only ended up being 10 or 15 minutes.
We had heard that the fried chicken was a must-have so, naturally, that’s what I got. Served with collards, mashed potatoes, and tasso ham gravy, this was some pretty outstanding fried chicken. Going against tradition and serving only *gasp* boneless breast and thigh is a risk, but it payed off. The breast was perfectly crunchy and salty on the outside, and juicy inside. Top 5 fried chicken i’ve had. Unfortunately, the last 2 or 3 forkfuls of thigh were on the edge of being underdone, but I was so full by that time I couldn’t have eaten it anyway. Both the sides were good, and the tasso gravy was great. So salty and and porky with plenty of zing.
Robyn got the Screen Door Plate, which allows you to pick 3 sides, or “local organics”, plus cornbread. The list of local organics rotates, but on this night it consisted of an assortment of about 8 different salads.
Robyn decided on the Mac and Cheese, along with 2 local organics; the Peach Salad with mixed greens, blueberries, shallots, mint, shaved ricotta salata, toasted hazelnuts, and wildflower honey vinaigrette was the first. The second was Marinated Beet Salad with arugula, avocado, goat cheese, toasted pistachios, and creamy lemon vinaigrette. Though the choice of salads at a southern food restaurant may seem odd, both were very fresh and tasty, and added some much needed acidity to cut the rich fattiness of the Mac and Cheese and Fried Chicken.
The cornbread, however was very dry and even dredging it through the mac and cheese couldn’t help save it.
Speaking of Mac and Cheese, this version had a crunchy, cheesy crust on top, and an extra creamy sauce underneath. It had great flavour, and would hit the spot all on it’s own. Not surprisingly, almost every table had an order of their own. Plus, with all that salad on the plate we didn’t have to feel guilty about eating a big bowl of melted cheese!
I have to say, southern comfort food wasn’t something that came to mind when I thought of the Northwest United States but, thanks to the Screen Door, it probably will be now. And it should be for you too!