In August 2015, Portland Monthly broke the news that celebrated food cart Cheese Plate PDX was shuttering; its owners, Carina Rumrill and Nick Dickison, intended to open an all-vegan restaurant called Of Roots and Blooms. Over the next two years, Rumrill and Dickison operated Of Roots and Blooms as a twice-weekly pop-up, offering inventive plant-based menus that, incredibly, changed with every service.
By all accounts, the pop-up was a staggering success. Lines routinely snaked out the door, dishes often sold out quickly, and Dickison reports having once made 150 orders of vegan mac ‘n’ cheese in a six-hour period. But last month, the pair made a surprise announcement: they were shutting down Of Roots and Blooms and moving to Vermont.
All is not lost, however, for fans of that fabled mac. Only days before their big move, Rumrill and Dickison have teamed up with the Lightning Bar Collective (LBC)—the vegan-leaning team behind popular neighborhood bars Sweet Hereafter, Associated, Victoria, and the Bye & Bye—to design a menu for LBC’s newest cocktail bar. Dubbed Capitol, the roughly 2,000-square-foot bar will be located at Northeast 15th and Broadway, across the street from vegan stalwart Blossoming Lotus.
“We’ve never done anything in that part of town,” says LBC’s John Janulis. “It’s in desperate need for a place to get drinks and good food.” The menu will feature Of Roots and Blooms classics like beer cheese soup, artichoke scampi, Brussels sprouts grilled cheese, and the Thanksgiving-inspired Vermonster sandwich, as well as that award-winning mac ‘n’ cheese. Rumrill’s 24-year-old son, Alex Knowlton, will manage quality control in the kitchen.
“They have such a good following,” says Janulis. “The only time I go out is to eat their food.”
In addition to crowd-pleasing vegan eats, Capitol will also offer cocktails (duh) and low-key karaoke. (“It’s down the hall and out of the way,” explains Janulis. “If you were to go in and get something to eat, you would never know that was going on.”) The bar is slated to open in the first half of October, offering lunch, dinner, and late night service.
“Depending on the reception of the guests, we may decide to do brunch, because it would be a killer brunch spot,” says Janulis. Did you hear that, Of Roots and Blooms? Better get that brunch menu ready before you leave….