Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Country Cat Dinnerhouse

Hi everybody! Last Thursday I attended a dinner at the Country Cat with the Portland folks. I love getting together with these people. Finding this group of food-obsessed-even-for-foodies totally rocked my world, and now I have tons of willing dining partners whenever I need them. These people are like instant family, eating off my plate and offering bites of their own, dishing about new restaurants and favorite recipes. The family-oriented Country Cat was a hit with the group.

The owner/chef Adam Sappington dropped by to welcome us to the restaurant and sent out some starters for us to enjoy. The house made jerky was a spicy, sweet surprise, spicy wings crackled with flavor, and the heirloom tomatoes were fresh and summery drizzled with olive oil. After all those munchies, I decided to forgo a salad and just ordered the "Whole Hog" entree ($19). That featured a slab of pork belly, a brined pork chop and a nugget of deep fried head cheese atop a pool of grits. The head cheese was my favorite, although I admit I didn't know what I was eating. It tasted like liver or another organ or pate, all of which I really like. It was crispy and creamy and rich all at once. The grits were out of this world; I ate all of them first and took home a bit of pork belly and chop for bf. The chop was a little dry; I missed the little ring of fat that can juice it up a bit. I also prefer chops that are bone-in. Just a petty quibble, and it was quite enjoyable regardless. Someone ordered a plate of onion rings ($4) for the table and boy did I like those. Shoestring-skinny and piled on the plate, these were made for sharing. There's no way one or even two people could finish that plate.

Others tried the lamb ($22), beef roast, bacon-wrapped trout ($16), goat cheese and onion hand pie ($13), boneless fried chicken ($18) and duck leg ($18). The only bummers were the trout (needed salt) and the tarragon sauce on the fried chicken. The lamb got rave reviews, as did the whole hog for others that ordered it. I think we all appreciated the flawless service. My water glass was full the whole time and the servers were there when we needed them before we had to ask or look. Some have opined that the place is a little too upscale or expensive for the area, but I disagree. I lived 10 blocks from there last year and would have loved to have it as an option. It might not be what folks are used to as a "family restaurant" in the area, but the neighborhood can, I believe, support a quality eatery.

I had a great time overall and can't wait to return.

The Country Cat Dinnerhouse & Bar
7937 SE Stark
Portland, OR 97215

Open daily 5pm - close
Brunch Sat-Sun 9am-2pm

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