Olympic Provisions

Masterly crafted meats headline the menu at Olympic Provisions - Portland's inaugural salumeria.

By Mike Thelin May 14, 2010

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ANY FOOL WITH A MEAT GRINDER and a bag of salt can make salami. But with a Swiss-trained salumist at the helm (Elias Cairo, formerly a chef at Castagna), the results at Olympic Provisions are a showcase of mastery. Set on the ground floor of the Olympic Mills Commerce Center, this is Portland’s inaugural salumeria. Charcuterie fiends will love swinging by the retail meat counter to pick up fresh sausages and house-cured meats—but before you run home with packages of paprika-spiked Spanish chorizo, spicy coppa, or habit-forming kielbasa under your arm, stop and linger in the intimate industrial setting of the restaurant for a lesson from chef and co-owner Jason Barwikowski, who uses these treats as the building blocks of his European and North African dishes.

Try the lunchtime offerings, such as smoked chicken salad flecked with fennel on brioche, or hand pies stuffed with pork rillettes. Or consider the heartier dinner menu’s slabs of morcilla—a rich Spanish blood sausage—draped with a fried egg and a dollop of piperade; kielbasa with sauerkraut; daily fish specials; and a charcuterie plate with a rotating cast of regional house specialties.

Meat is king on the menu, but veggies get some royal treatment, too. A salad of shaved raw brussels sprouts and sunchokes brightened with olives, anchovies, and garlic became one of the most talked-about dishes in town when the restaurant opened last December. And seasonal soups—made with, say, baby turnips and spring onions—offer a fresh transition from winter. With so many satisfying options, a chocolate bread pudding or navel orange flan is worth planning for, but at a price: less room for sausage.

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