Let’s face it.
The idea of cooking dinner after a long day of work can sometimes be painful. The grocery store can be a battlefield after five o’clock and it can be hard to strike that balance between preparing a meal or grabbing something quick on the commute home. That’s where New American comes in. Opened last November, New American (2103 N Killingsworth St.) is the brainchild of chefs Aaron and Faith Dionne. The couple has created a menu that marries the ideas of slow food and local sourcing with the convenience of take-out.
Like many new ideas, New American’s style is a bit off-kilter. While the food is comforting and delicious, the ambiance didn’t quite feel dialed in. They embrace technology with updating and changing electronic menus, but it seems to leave servers unaware of what is currently available. While it was a bit perplexing, the friendly service and wonderful food had personality, which is more than I can say for many of the trendy spots currently around town. Our favorite moment of dinner was chatting with our young server who had us laughing and sampling a few of the local beers on tap. Out of the six options, we settled on a Belgian style beer out of Corvallis called Mazama Grand Cru. Priced perhaps a bit high at $6.00 for a 10 oz. pour, it was a great recommendation and one that I plan on enjoying again soon. For the non-imbibing folk, try the Crater Lake Rootbeer on tap. You won’t regret it.
Looking over their family-style menu, it can be a bit hard to tell portion size. You’re encouraged to mix and match main dishes with sides and sauces of all varieties so my husband and I shared the Smoked Pork Shoulder with the house red sauce as well as the Alpine Burger Plate. While I was a fairly hesitant to veer away from the main menu area, I’m so glad I did. My burger, made with Painted Hills beef, Gruyere cheese, onion, and bacon was perfectly cooked and served on a heavenly wheat bun. For sides we ordered the Potato Parsnip Mash and the Polenta. Vegetarians, this is where you want to be. Time slowed as I enjoyed the rich and secretly spiced deliciousness of their mash that hinted to a dash of cardamom. The polenta could have been a meal on its own, and I left wishing I had ordered some to take home.
After our feast, I had to take a look around the counter area which showcased Faith Dionne’s homemade cakes and chocolate confections. Her personal side project, Bees & Beans, is a regionally-based ingredient candy company. I couldn’t leave without trying a slice of her towering Coconut Cake. The layers of sponge cake separated and blanketed with salted vanilla buttercream were sinful and satisfying. Don’t forget to ask for a side of vanilla bean ice cream.
Although plating is a tad lackluster, New American accomplishes its overall goal. Their food is homey and shareable while remaining locally sourced, seasonal, and quick.