In the industrial southeast district of the city, fringed by tattoo parlors and taverns, you’ll find Kachka, Portland’s latest destination restaurant. The décor is simple: Soviet propaganda posters and ornate window frames evoking traditional Russian architecture. The heart of the menu is an ode to traditional Russian zakuski—small plates, also known as “vodka snacks.” Chef Bonnie Morales, a Chicago-born daughter of Russian immigrants, embraces the cuisine she grew up with and elevates it with local ingredients and artistic flair. There’s Herring Under a Fur Coat (a meticulously tiered salad of salted herring and potato, sweet onions, carrots, beets and sieved egg) and buterbrodi (salt-kissed baltic sprats with parsley mayo on pumpernickel toasts). Any of the six caviar options arrive with feathery-light blini, slices of challah and a painterly stroke of butter garnished with egg and minced chive. Morales’s husband, Israel, tends to the wine list, with a tight selection that meets the need for high-acid, cleansing wines with this food (Clouet Champagne, Salvard Cheverny) and skews northeast (Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia and Austria make strong showings). But vodka is the drink of choice—with more than 70 served by the gram. Pick from six themed flights, or indulge in the housemade infusions, from chamomile to bison grass and black pepper with baking spices. When the server toasts na zdaróvye, that’s “to your health” in Russian.
720 SE Grand Ave., Portland, Oregon
This story appears in the print issue of April 2015.
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