written by Jen Stevenson | photos by Alan Weiner Photography
No longer Café Castagna, but still Castagna’s café, this lively new Ladd’s Addition wine bar retains the same sleek look (and beloved patio) as its predecessor, while debuting a playfully scholarly natural-wine-centric list to pair with James Beard Award-nominated Castagna chef Justin Woodward’s simple but superlative new bistro menu. Settle in for a late summer evening at one of the garden-side tables, inches from fragrant plumes of fresh mint and lemon verbena, and enlist the help of spirited sommelier Brent Braun, who won’t steer you wrong on the perfect bottle to go with Woodward’s burnt-beet-topped steak tartare, grilled squid with chicory and Thai basil, and buttermilk fried chicken with spicy greens and hot sour cream.
Like the savory offerings, desserts are often twists on dishes served next door as part of Woodward’s modernist tasting menus. They shouldn’t be missed, particularly the Pacojet-pureed concoction of housemade chocolate sable cookies, heavy cream and macerated Oregon strawberries, splashed with a balsamic vinegar reduction, dusted with sable crumbs and aptly described on the menu as “kinda like a Blizzard.” Those concerned about the fate of the famous Café Castagna burger may have mixed feelings about its new incarnation, but it’s hard not to love a slab of beef slathered in smoked beef fat remoulade. If lingering over after-dinner drinks, sip the Scissors & Sidewalks, a light, effervescent, dangerously drinkable mix of Pineau des Charentes, Dolin blanc vermouth and lemon. Stay long enough (the wine bar’s open daily until midnight), and you might just end up joining one of the barista’s impromptu late-night dance parties. This makes our list of places to try this month in Portland so make sure and stop by.
1758 SE HAWTHORNE BLVD.