Ned Ludd

Named after the proletarian hero who inspired the Luddites, Ned Ludd follows in his footsteps by eschewing the comforts of a modern kitchen in favor of a cooking technique that predates modern man

By Mike Thelin June 22, 2009 Published in the July 2009 issue of Portland Monthly

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Co-owner Jason French prepares lunch in Ned Ludd’s open kitchen.

During the industrial revolution, the fabled proletarian hero Ned Ludd inspired a gang of technology-hating artisans (who came to be called “Luddites”) to go about smashing machinery in defense of craft. And so it is fitting that an eatery named in Ludd’s honor would eschew the comforts of a modern kitchen in favor of a cooking technique that predates modern man: everything at this forty-seat restaurant in Northeast Portland is prepared in a wood-fired oven.

Ever-changing menu items—such as piping-hot saucer-size flatbread (baked to order); flame-blistered rapini simply tossed with olive oil, salt, chile flakes, and lemon; and tender lamb chops—arrive at your table imbued with deep flavors of smoked pear- and apple-wood—proving that the simple flame can still outdo more sophisticated fusion cooking methods in bringing out the possibilities of each ingredient.

Veteran chefs Jason French and Ben Meyer also cool things down with inspired salads drawn from Oregon’s seasonal farm offerings, like roasted asparagus folded into crisp leaves of spring lettuce, tossed with sherry vinaigrette, and topped with a hard-boiled egg. Save room for wood-fired s’mores, or dense shortcake topped with the season’s first strawberries.

Since opening last December, Ned Ludd has now found its groove, skillfully bringing diners hearty, handmade fare at modest prices and charting an entirely new course in Portland dining. Its namesake would be proud.

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