Dessert at Trifecta Tavern & Bakery

At Ken Forkish's bread-centric Portland hangout, pastry chef Eve Kuttemann gives us three reasons to order some sweets.

By Karen Brooks February 3, 2014 Published in the February 2014 issue of Portland Monthly

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Trifecta's chocolate walnut orange cake

Image: Nomad

By Portland’s micro-loving standards, Trifecta Tavern & Bakery is the Coliseum. The sky-high industrial ceiling makes room for a raucous marble bar shaking highbrow classics, a bustling kitchen separated from diners by a mountain of oysters on ice, and stretch-limo booths for all. The steak frites–meets–seafood shack menu isn’t quite ready for prime time, but Trifecta is already a Portland hangout. The just-baked bread and churned butter are world-class. Drinks satisfy. And desserts are a hit. For his collaborator on rustic sweets meant to “make you weak in the knees,” owner and local bread star Ken Forkish tapped a rising pastry talent, Eve Kuttemann, whose résumé stretches from Michelin-starred Paris kitchens to Portland’s own Castagna. Here are three reasons their desserts strike the sweet spot.   


Exquisite tenderness yields to dead-on flavors and the whomp of glossy frosting whipped to a shocking lightness. In tall layers, from chocolate walnut orange (pictured above) to German chocolate cake, Kuttemann channels a grandmother’s exuberance and a French baker’s perfectionism. 


This springy, yeasty, rum-soaked cake, reclining on whipped cream and doused tableside with even more rum, is many things: a Parisian obsession, a rarely seen treat in Portland, and, to Forkish, “a baker’s dessert.” Kuttemann uses Forkish’s house levain starter to get the ball rolling. 


In this homage to Forkish’s childhood sundae favorite, vanilla-bean ice cream hunkers beneath a thicket of whipped cream and crispy peanut sable cookies. Hot bittersweet chocolate sauce, bumpy with Spanish peanuts, is poured in the cracks. You can’t eat it fast enough.

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