Last night Team Mago joined Chefs Aaron Barnett (St. Jack) and Cameron Addy (La Moule) at a popup for fried chicken tenders, crinkle fries, vinegar slaw, comeback sauce, and some great beers. All this good eating took place at Lardo’s food cart on SE Hawthorne Blvd.
So what is a popup? The official definition is “a store or other business that opens quickly in a temporary location and is intended to operate for only a short period of time.” We’ve found that, in Portland at least, popups give well-known and sometimes not-so-well-known chefs an opportunity to shine by presenting their cuisine temporarily in a new venue, usually focusing on a speciality. Word about a popup is spread through social media.
So what about the food? Chef Barnett informed me that he had never worked in a food truck in his life. Well, OK chef, here is some unsolicited advice: you seem to be really, really good at cooking food from locales you have never visited, as in France, Belgium, and food trucks. So don’t mess with fate while MagoGuide has your back. We will handle the culinary pillage of the Gauls and the Belgae on our own nickel and report back to you with dispatches that rival Caesar’s riveting narratives if you’ll just keep feeding us when we are in Portland.
Fired chicken tenders: Dougie Adams eat your heart out. This is how you do chicken so that it remains flavorful, moist, and so that the batter adheres to the bird once it hits the table (see our review Imperial: The Emperor Has No Clothes). It did not escape Team Mago’s notice that only four lanes of traffic separated Barnett’s and Addy’s fryolatered yardbird from Chicken and Guns — oh to be present at the alpha and omega of Rip City birdage during a light drizzle with a Heretic IPA to savor!! And I could have done with a pint of that comeback sauce and a straw.
Wanna bet Chef Barnett has never been to Jackson Mississippi? Well MagoGuide has and we might suggest that next time he and Chef Addy get a jones for food truck food they serve a Lyonnaise take on fried koolickles to dip in their secret sauce (just sayin’). The straight forward acidity and crunch of the vinegar slaw was a perfect foil for the tenders.
OK, in order to debunk any impressions that we are Barnett/Addy groupies, it is necessary to have prayer about those crinkle fries. Now to start with, Team Mago was tortured with weekly doses of crinkle fries growing up which were a) inevitably baked in an oven with way too much crisco and b) relentlessly served up with frozen fish sticks. So there is this whole childhood gastro-trauma thing to get past, but the chefs’ crinkles just did not cut it. They struck me as not fully thawed when they were fried and not fried long enough to compensate. Carry over cooking saved about half of them, but in the end they were unworthy of the chicken. This is surprising given that St. Jack and La Moule between them do the best frites in the Rose City. More unsolicited advice: next time team up with Chicken and Guns, their twice cooked taters rule.
MagoGuide’s iPhone/iPad app for Portland is scheduled to be released in June — AND IT’S FREE! MagoGuide Portland features both St. Jack and La Moule, so please download the app, check it out, and let us know what you think. For more information, see our page MagoGuide Portland.