I met Olympia_Provisions_01Tom on a typically bleak Portland afternoon. He was slicing tiny matchstick juliennes of partially frozen meat, destined for steak tartare.

Without so much as glancing down at the brutally sharp blade as it bit its way through the steak, he grinned. “Everything is locally sourced,” he said proudly. “All of our meat is from Oregon and Washington, maybe a little of Idaho. Things here are sourced well, and that’s really important.”

Victor Deras, the sous chef in charge of Olympia Provision’s Southeast restaurant, reiterated the sentiment. “From the top down, this company really focuses on product first. Then quality. Then making sure the way we prepare it is respectful. It’s a system.”

Olympia Provisions, whose cured meat facility is headquartered in the heart of southeast Portland, is no stranger to the food community at large. First and foremost a charcuterie business, they specialize in delicious cured meats, turning a passion for salami into a successful empire. Their goods can be found in countless markets across the Pacific Northwest, further still across the country and were even featured in this past winter’s Holiday Gift Guide of the New York Times.

Their restaurants, however, are at the heart of their efforts, the gathering place where locals and visitors alike can revel in the glory of a good capicola and perhaps a sausage or two. At the end of the day, it boils down to something very simple: serving delicious food to those who wish to eat it.

“Surprisingly, we’re not particularly well-known to the local community,” Chef Victor shared, cracking a grin as he seared a sausage to crisp perfection. “We’ve been getting a lot of press lately. Often times we get tourists coming here right off the plane because they read about it somewhere. Truthfully, there’s almost a bigger national following than a local one.”

Although the national following is somewhat ironic, considering Olympia Provision’s dedication to local sourcing, Portland’s renowned community restauranteurs and cooks consider it to be one of the city’s brightest jewels.

“It’s a great place to eat and to work,” Emily, one of the southeast servers shared. “A lot of people in the [restaurant] industry come in to eat here because our food is really authentic, really intentional. I mean, if people who know good food come to eat here, that’s great. It means what we serve is really quality.”

And, true to its word, the city’s finest cured meats and charcuterie embellish both the menu and the décor. Displayed above a foreboding wine selection, several heavy sides of meat dangle from the rafters. “See those?” Victor points out to me. “A little dusty, maybe, but still edible, probably really delicious. Expensive displays, though.”

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Fortunately, their menu is more approachable. Serving up authentic charcuterie boards with a bounty of meats, cheeses and pickled vegetables, it is possible to taste your way around Europe with a handful of selections. Personally, I would give the French board my most glowing review. Teeming with tender, flavorful paté, pork rillettes, luxurious brie and flavorful garlic sausage, it is the best way to sample just a fraction of what Olympia Provisions has to offer.

Of course, with the recent release of the Olympia Provision’s Cookbook and access to their well-known Salami of the Month Club, access to the bounty is never out of reach.

Yet at the end of the day, what makes the OP family great is the ability to join in on the food, the atmosphere and the people. Like so many things, the heart and soul of Olympia Provision can be best experienced right here at the table.

NW Olympia Provisions Restaurant
1632 NW Thurman St
Mon-Fri 11am-10pm, Sat-Sun 10am-10pm
SE Olympia Provisions Restaurant
107 SE Washington St
Mon-Fri 11am-10pm, Sat-Sun 10am-10pm

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