Thursday, August 16, 2012

Delta Café

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Portland, OR. Ask anyone who knows me and it becomes clear (quickly) that I can get really into my Southern cuisine. Fried chicken? Country fried steak? Fried okra? To this day I have a spot reserved to each of them and I often quest to find the next hosting eatery in any city I happen to visit. On yet another Southern front, let me introduce this fun little spot that chooses some of my personal fried favorites (yes, I said FRIED).

Delta Café was a recommended eat and an unexpected encounter. Shortly after taking seats in another Portland, bar-style, beer-serving restaurant, I reviewed the menu and quickly exclaimed "I'll take one of everything!" Starters, folks, Starters, what could I pair with my fried chicken but some fried goodness that I rarely see on menus in Los Angeles? The server happily took note but sadly informed us that the Cornbread...was out. My friends laughed and the group of us sat and awaited round number one...

Deep Fried Okra - a traditional favorite of mine that I typically found only in two restaurants: 1) a franchise located across most of the Southern states, 2) a small soul food restaurant in Los Angeles. The  okra here did a number on me, since I probably ate most of the serving. It had been too long since I've enjoyed it so it was difficult to not scarf it down. I eat my okra plain, savoring the little pops of the crisp, lightly salted exterior and the juicy center. Bite after bite I became numb to the taste and realized that some were on the side of overcooked. It wasn't perfect but it's luck of the draw. Either way, I'll order it again and again.

Corn and Black Eyed Pea Fritters with Black Eyed Pea Green Chili Cheese Dip

Corn and Black Eyed Pea Fritters - well this was a fun concoction. Slightly sweet, similar to what a fried cornbread might taste like. The mixture fit well and oddly I wanted a slight dust of powdered sugar and a sweet jelly to dip them in (Monte Cristo anyone?). All were flash-fried to a rust-color and were quickly polished. The fritters were already dense, and paired with the dip weighed a bit heavy on the belt. The dip itself didn't pair successfully in my mind, given that the crunchy exterior and steaming hot corn and black eyed pea blend gave me the sensation of a dessert. I will have to go for Round 2 next time I make it up to Portland to think it over with a few more bites.

Pups in a Pond

Pups in a Pond - Who doesn't love a brown pan gravy? Drippings thickened up with a little flour and served as a base for these home-style hushpuppies. The depth wasn't extensive but the light coating of the peppery brown gave a good finish to these otherwise dense fried corn appetizers. Hushpuppies, traditionally served side-by-side to seafood and barbecue dishes, stood alone on this night. The batter wasn't overly seasoned and the gravy really did give it the extra push to stand out. Though it reached the same level as many of my other experiences with the dish, I returned to the fried okra as my favored item. 

Sweet Potato Fries with Fresh Apple Sauce

Sweet Potato Fries - made a bit differently than may be expected but tasting as one would think. This version involved thinly sliced sweet potatoes flash fried and served with a homemade applesauce.  It tasted like any other fry one could imagine and the sauce was on the side of addicting. I could only imagine what an apple crisp would taste like with this in the mix.

Famous Mac 'n Cheese

Mac 'n Cheese - a steamy, hot gooey mess of deliciousness. I let the mac cool a bit and picked it apart with my fingers. I ate the crunchy bits followed by the cheese-coated noodles that thickened as they cooled. I try to order this dish at most restaurants that serve it just to see how it compares up to my grandma's version and my own - it always gives me a few new ideas (yes...coming soon, a mac 'n cheese recipe, definitely). This particular version of a white cheddar persuasion was mild to the tongue but contained enough cheese to deter those struggling with even a little intolerance to lactose.

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie - The pie, and fellow desserts, are supplied by a local bakery and served up with a heavy hand of whipped cream when brought to the table. I typically don't like Key Lime Pie, but the lime was light and it reminded me of cheesecake, which I DO enjoy. Needless to say, split among my friends, our small bites quickly demolished any sense of delicacy this dessert brought to our table. This dessert was presented gratis by a very kind server who supported the creative arts and the music of one of my friends.

Southern food is an incredible comfort that reaches far beyond the South, and having it find its way to the Pacific Northwest shouldn't discount that idea. The modern health trend can deter me from approaching a Southern restaurant only to discover that it may have 'lost its way' but I wasn't disappointed in Delta Café in the least. I was too full to order anything beyond my Starter expedition, but I just look at it as laying the groundwork for next time; I do believe that there is a Chicken Fried Steak and Potato and Cheese Casserole that I'm excited to meet.

Delta Café
4607 SE Woodstock Blvd
Portland, OR 97206
(503) 771-3101
www.deltacafebar.com

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