Signs of Spring on Portland Menus

It's been a long time coming, but nettles, miner's lettuce, green garlic, and rhubarb are here to officially kick off the season of color.

By Allison Jones March 15, 2013

Foraged spring green salad and nettle and white bean soup at Bar Avignon.

This week's warm weather has brought out the long-awaited signs of spring in Portland: street trees are exploding into bursts of pink blossoms, daffodils are showing off their sunshine hues, and Portland chefs are celebrating the chance to cook with something other than beets, potatoes, and kale.

Here's a glimpse of the dishes that herald the end of winter:

Bar Avignon's Eric Joppie is wrestling the infamous stinging greens for his nettle and white bean soup in fennel broth and nettle gnocchi. He's also serving up green garlic vichyssoise and a fresh foraged spring salad of wild wood sorrel, red and green miner's lettuce, lemon balm, and watercress tossed with baby radishes, fennel, and meyer lemon.

Over at Ava Gene's, chef Joshua McFadden is showcasing nettles atop a bruschetta along with fresh sheep ricotta, as well as a crsipy fritto of purple broccoli and kale rapini.

◊ Lovely’s Fifty-Fifty on N Mississippi is serving up a wide variety of spring veggie-topped pizzas. Think hedgehog mushrooms pizza with fontina, spinach pizza with green garlic and ricotta, housemade fennel sausage pizza with spring braising mix, or stinging nettle pizza with taleggio and pancetta.

Ken Norris of Riffle NW is featuring Oregon coast rockfish with hedgehog mushrooms and creamed nettles and bacon-wrapped monkfish with charred spring garlic.

◊ NE Dekum's favorite neighborhood spot Firehouse is firing up a green garlic pizza bianca topped with nettle pesto, wood-oven-roasted baby fava beans, and rhubarb crisp with housemade lemon verbena ice cream. 

Marco Frattaroli's Cibo and Vitaly Paley's Imperial are offering spring razor clams fresh from the Oregon coast.

Aaron Barnett of St. Jack is welcoming spring with baked asparagus and gruyere crepes topped with nettles and a cognac and morel creme. 

In the coming weeks, Pacific Pie Co. will launch into full-blown rhubarbpalooza with specials like strawberry rhubarb pie, raspberry rhubarb pie, rhubarb custard pie, rhubarb tarts, rhubarb meringue pie, and rhubarb cocktails.

◊ Clarklewis's new man in charge Kyo Koo is offering fresh burrata with Viridian Farms basil shoots, nasturtium, pistachio crackers, and La Vecchia balsamic vinegar, as well as roasted pork topped with white grits gnocchi, miner's lettuce, and horseradish.

Your turn: which menu items have you thinking spring? Share your seasonal Portland food finds in the comments!

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