By Nancy Tannler
6839 SE Belmont St.
Wed – Sun – 8 am to 3 pm
Dinner Wed – Sun – 5 to 10 pm
Neighbors have been curiously watching the corner of 68th & SE Belmont to find out what the restaurant Coquine is all about. It is now open and ready to delight the community and the Portland area with their food offerings.
Owners Ksandek Podbielski and his wife/chef Katy Millard have been preparing for this day for three years. Coquine first began serving food at custom cocktail parties, weddings, vineyard lunches, wine cellar dinners, beer pairings and pop-up harvest dinners. Food aficionados are aware of this latest incarnation of the farm-to-table movement where farmers host their own meals or collaborate with local restaurants like Coquine.
By laying this ground work, Coquine opened with diners ready to enjoy what Podbielski says is there. “Uncommon yet approachable food. We don’t want to challenge the diner – just serve something delicious.”
Podbielski and Millard are citizens of the world. They have lived in Europe, Africa and other parts of the United States before settling here six years ago. With all the flavors and textures of these different cultures, Coquine has an inspired menu. Millard’s Portuguese ancestry favors fish and the Mediterranean diet. Her first cooking experiences under the tutelage of French chefs gives her a solid repertoire to draw from.
The morning menu consists of Stumptown coffees, teas and pastry with tantalizing items like the Cardamom Crumble coffeecake; the Buttermilk Buckwheat biscuit with thyme-honey butter or cherry jam; Toasted Panecoi Santi (sweet savory bread) with butter or fresh ricotta and blackberries to name just a few.
Lunch is served from 11 am – 3:30 pm serving sandwiches and salads that are also available to go for a picnic in the park.
Dinner is their pièce de résistance with options of the Chef’s Choice Menu with an optional wine pairing, select dinners or a la carte.
The Chef’s Choice menu is a four-course dinner that includes snacks and a candy tray for dessert. Millard recalled a recent dinner she served the following menu: Snacks from the kitchen: chilled melon and cucumber salad with shiso and toasted almond and Pane fritto with rosemary lardo and treviso; First Course – oil cured Oregon Albacore with new potatoes, cucumber and sorrel scallion vinaigrette; Second Course – tomatoes with olive oil pastry, fromage blanc, pinenuts, olives, and summer savory melted onions; Third Course – molasses lacquered pork short ribs with padron pepper and pecan succotash; Dessert – fresh figs with fig leaf ice-cream, malted graham, and toasted chocolate marshmallow or choice of sweets from the candy tray.
“We like to prepare meals that expand the diners interest in food flavors,” Podbielski said. Their menu changes with the season to use produce when it is most delicious. He remarked on the cucumber and melon salad Millard made recently that everyone enjoyed.
Podbielski has selected wines he hopes will appeal to all types of wine lovers. There are inexpensive but absolutely delicious white, rose and red wines, and also uncommon items like a small Italian producer who ages Babera in chestnut barrels for seven years, or a slightly sparkling chenin-blanc from a natural wine producer in the Loire valley.
The conversation about dessert was enlightening. The reason some people prefer cheese with a little sweet is to retain the flavors of the dinner. The pecorino sardo (raw sheep’s milk), fennel-shallot agrodolce (sauce) and black pepper candied walnuts would be the perfect finish for those who like ending a meal this way. Even better would be to enjoy it with one of their many dessert wines.
Ksandek Podbielski and Katy Millard prepare everything themselves from scratch. See their menu online at CoquinePDX.com