By Nancy Tannler
2030 SE 7th St.
(SE 7th & Lincoln St.)
Tuesday – Wednesday
4 – 9 pm
Thursday – Sunday
12 – 9 pm
Coming to Oregon from Connecticut for summer during childhood has given Neil Davidson a strong attachment to both of these states. There’s family in the east and the west but the draw to attend Culinary School in Portland and meeting James Neumeister, owner of Ground Breaker Brewery, has him committed to the left coast for awhile.
After graduating from culinary school, Davidson did his due diligence by working as a chef for several restaurants in California. He added to his repertoire of recipes, new food combinations and lots of gluten free dishes Then he got the call from Neumeister, who started the Ground Breaker Brewery here in 2011 specializing in gluten-free beer, asking him to manage the Ground Breaker GastroPub next door to the brewery.
That was two years ago and the pub has been building on its menu, new customers and increasing the hours of operation ever since. “I really like to cook,” Davidson said, “even with limited kitchen capabilities, the menu is dynamic. Everything is made in small batches.” In very small print at the bottom of the page on their menu is the assurance that all is 100 percent gluten-free.
“The intention is for the pub food to be inviting to everyone and not just appeal to people on a restricted diet,” Davidson said, “although it is a natural for us to be gluten-free since our beer is.” He’s experimented and found ways to make their homestyle dishes tasty–menu items like chicken and dumpling stew, chocolate chip cookies, Grass Fed Beef Burgers, pizza, sour dough corn bread–all regular sounding dishes, not what one would expect in a gluten-free restaurant.
The entire menu is eclectic, offering the basics as well as dishes with exotic sounding names like Cubano, a slow roasted pork sandwich, or Muffuletta, layers of Cotto salami and Mortadella, swiss cheese, gardenia pickle mix, olive tapenade or the northwest favorite, cioppino; a fish stew that includes, mussels, Willapa Bay clams, Astoria Dungeness crab, and wild black trumpet mushrooms in a tomato stew.
The kids menu serves all their favorites: cheese pizza, grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese or vegetables, hazelnut butter and berry jam sandwich, chicken noodle soup, potato soup – meals everyone’s kid will eat.
“A lot of people come here for our desserts,” Davidson said. They serve a completely dairy free Chestnut Olive oil cake, a yummy Cocoa Nib Cake and Huckleberry Bread Pudding. “We use chestnuts in some of our recipes because we have access to them from our supplier, Randy, out in McMinneville.”
Ground Breaker Brewery uses chestnuts instead of barley to ferment the beer since they are gluten-free. They roast the chestnuts used in their beer and recipes on site in a gas-fired nut roaster from Jordan.
“We were fortunate to find Randy who had the foresight to know that one day someone would want the fruit from his chestnut trees,” Davidson said. Otherwise we would have to import the chestnuts since there isn’t a lot of demand for them here.
On Wednesdays, GastroPub does a completely new menu with five options for people to choose from. These include dishes like fish and chips, oysters, chicken fried steaks, fried chicken, seafood etc.
There are eight beers on tap and a selection of wine. They make their own soda, sweetening the many different flavors with carbonated pear juice.
An interesting aside that Davidson shared is that India Pale Ales or IPA’s were made for the British soldiers in India because they used more hops as a preservative to get the beer to India without spoiling.
Ground Breaker Brewery is launching of a Kickstarter campaign to allow them to start canning their gluten-free craft ales. Go to www.kickstarter.com/projects/1059046333/yes-we-can-0 or www.groundbreakerbrewing.com.