Tasty n Daughters: Another Jewel in the Crown

Address: 4537 SE Division St., Portland OR 97206— Get directions
Website: tastyndaughters.com
Telephone: (503) 621-1400
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Rostra rating: 4.6

Toro Bravo Inc. has planted its flag at the eastern end of the Division/Clinton restaurant corridor, and it is game on! After multiple visits to Tasty n Daughters, TeamMago is convinced that the venerable Woodsman Tavern has been replaced by an even better restaurant. And that rival destination restaurants like Ava Gene’s and Pok Pok are going to feel the heat from up the street.

Inside Tasty n Daughters

Although restaurateur and chef John Gorham has made some nice changes to the dining space, he did keep the two essentials: those gorgeous wood booths and the Tavern’s fourteen taps. The new lighting in particular has restored the grandeur of the old Tavern, which was starting to feel a little long in the tooth. In terms of ambience, Tasty n Daughters has swapped dark and friendly for warm and welcoming to good effect.

The menu will be familiar to clientele of the now defunct (well, relocated and renamed) Tasty n Sons, Tasty n Alder, and  Shalom Y’all, but there are some significant differences. The big three are:

1) a menu section devoted to fruits de mer including oysters, caviar, and Dungeness crab;

2) bespoke pasta made with a very high end Italian extruder; and

3) Turkish flatbread called either Pide at brunch or Lahmajoun at dinner.

Also Gorham has installed a Josper oven, which in addition to being ruinously expensive, is the hottest indoor grill available on the market. The beast runs only on real deal charcoal and the output has its own section on the dinner menu.

Here is what TeamMago has wolfed down at Tasty n Daughters so far:

Lahmacun Turkish pizza with beef and lamb

Lahmajoun Turkish pizza with beef, lamb, and spicy red pepper sauce: This one took me waaaaay back. It was called Armenian pizza and was served as an appie at a family feast presided over by an Armenian matriarch (just to get in even more ethno-nationalist trouble, this flatbread dish is also called Syrian or Lebanese pizza — wanna guess where?). The lamb and beef were tasty, but the surprising and gratifying heat of the red pepper sauce stole the show. If it were me, I would serve it with some of that killer labneh from Shalom Y’all and maybe a drizzle of EVOO to counteract the slightly dry ground meat as well as  add a bit more richness.

House made chips and french onion dip

House made chips and French onion dip: not your moma’s Lipton, “sour cream” and Lays by a long chalk, dude. This dish reveals chef Gorham’s nostalgic and playful side. The outsized bespoke chips were perfect for the exemplary dip. I could literally make myself sick with this dish (and I think that was the plan all along, as well as selling a lot of beer to accompany such a debauch).

Spaghetti carbonara with guanciale, black pepper, parmigiana Reggiano and house-made egg yolk pasta

Carbonara with guanciale, black pepper, parmigiano reggiano, and salt cured egg yolk. TeamMago lived in Rome for years and we are VERY opinionated about pasta carbonara. Guanciale, black pepper, and no cream were all good signs, but the use of parma by itself without an admixture of pecorino was a bad sign, and I don’t really care how fancy that extruder is, it is a sin to use fresh pasta for carbonara.

Well, damned if I don’t come off like a fucking pasta snob!! I absolutely loved the DIY aspect with the unbroken yolk on top, which rendered a mouth feel indistinguishable from the eponymous source of this dish in the Campo de Fiori. The guanciale was on par with that supplied by the Norcerini in the same piazza. And I have to say that the pasta, which looked like spaghetti alla chitarra to me, was both perfectly cooked and well suited to a carbonara prep.

Two nits. The dish needed a shit load more cracked black pepper, so it would be nice if this dish was served with a pepper grinder or the staff asked if one wanted a bit more than what was supplied by the kitchen; and at the same time they could inform folks who might not like to play with their food that the yolk needs to be mixed into the pasta prior to ingestion. I’m still very skeptical about using fresh pasta. It’s pretty much a sin even if it is perfectly cooked and delicious. I guess I’ll just have to have some more to figure that one out.

Tavern burger with fries and comeback sauce

Tavern burger with house bacon, hazelnut romesco, greens, red onion, zucchini pickles, and house American cheese served with frites and comeback sauce. This vital Rip City menu item seems like a work in progress. The burger was cooked a perfect medium rare and the fries were quite good. Unfortunately, the bun, bacon, and cheese need work if this baby is going to rival the burgers in Gorham’s other venues.

Prime rib

Prime rib with buttermilk mashed potatoes, demi-glace, and fresh horseradish. This fourteen ounce cut of Double R Ranch beef aged for thirty days is epic. The perfectly executed meat has that bacon-like savor from significant dry aging, but chef Gorham must be channeling Joël Robuchon for those mashies. When you combine those taters with that classic demi, you might just be tempted to ditch the meat for a quart of each, but not quite.

Hangtown fry

Hangtown fryfried oysters, scrambled egg, bacon lardons, biscuit, and remoulade. The key to this dish is the remoulade, which makes those perfectly fried oysters pop, and adds richness to the scrambled eggs, which are actually an omelette natur as far as I could tell. The biscuit could be flakier and less dense since it is underpins the eggs.

Tasty muffin

Tasty muffin with sausage and American cheese: not your daddy’s Egg McMuffin either, dude. A very good take on elevated fast food, but the egg a) ought to be mentioned on the menu, b) be cooked a bit runnier, and c) be a duck egg. I really dug the bespoke English muffin and the sausage, however.

Beignets

Beignets with lemon curd: as with the hangtown fry, the lemon curd is the kicker that elevates the dish. Standing alone the beignets are just fine but they fall short of Le Moule’s iconic version.

Bone marrow with fried oysters

Bone marrow with fried oysters and salsa verde: this dish hits on all cylinders. The god’s butter, perfectly fried oysters, and sweetened pig candy form a palate pleasing trifecta, and count on Gorham and co. to rescue Texas toast from the culinary dustbin and restore it to the glory days of its Denton Texas Pig Stand origins.

Manti pasta turkish beef and lamb dumplings

Manti pasta turkish beef and lamb dumplings with garlic yogurt sauce and urfa pepper. I have had the Afghan version of these and they point the way to improving this dish at Tasty n Daughters, since at present it lacks any culinary wow factor. Afghan mantu are often served with a hot and tangy chutney that would cut through the good but unidimensional garlic yogurt and deliver some much needed heat.

Glazed yams

Glazed yams with maple syrup and cumin. Listed on the menu as a side, these puppies would be a great dessert. Even better, these yams (maybe with a hint cayenne or espelette pepper) would crush it as an accompaniment for roast goose or duck confit.

Chop chop salad

Chop chop salad with molinari salami, provolone piccante, broccoli ,and roasted red peppers. Like the carbonara, this salad needs a serious grinding of black pepper, but that is the only thing is needs. The finocchiona, (real!) provolone piccante, and pitted Castelvetrano olives really elevate the aggressively bitter radicchio that also supplies an important textural component.

A very nice draft beer list

Drinkies?  I am already in love with those fourteen taps like I never was at the Woodsman Tavern. The highlight so far is the Logsdon Urban, which is brewed by former Commons Brewing staff for the express purpose of reanimating their killer saison.

The wine situation is somewhat strange. The selection strikes me as unbalanced with an emphasis on rare sherries and heavily francophone otherwise. Perhaps a “a focus on sustainable producers” has skewed the selection, but for the folks behind Toro Bravo, a wine list with no priorat is pretty hard to explain — especially since that wine would go superbly with that killer prime rib. The situation is even more confusing with respect to cava which does not appear in the wine list by the glass or bottle, although a glass of NV Marques de Requena is available for eight bucks at happy hour, as well as employed in an aperol spritz. Not to worry, you will find very good wines on this list, but the search will take longer than at other restaurants in the group. Craft cocktails are divided into brunch and dinner categories, while the list of artisan and small batch spirits rivals the wine list in length and quality.

The staff so far has been great: friendly, generous, and informative. The bar in particular is extremely well run. We got comped for the few kitchen glitches we experienced during both their soft and regular openings. And I always like the opportunity to explicitly tip the kitchen staff on the check.

Inside Tasty n Daughters

MagoTip: The Woodsman renovation anticipated lines, especially for brunch. In addition to the main Tavern, Gorham redid the old event room next door as a catered holding area called the R&R Room. You can get very nice drinkies and nibbles in this comfortable space during all of Tasty n Daughters operating hours, and the R&R Room is kid friendly when the bar is restricted to patrons 21 and over from 2:30 to 5 PM while the main dining area is being prepped for evening service. Both the R&R Room and main bar happy hours include buck a shuck oysters.

Morgan Hart

MagoGuide.com was launched in 2011 as a website and virtual storefront to showcase Patti's software and Morgan's content. Dedicated to slow travel, culinary excess, and ripping good yarns, MagoGuide is the digital scriptoria for the Mago Scrolls, Morgan's historical fiction series about the Punic Wars in general and one Mago of Syracuse in particular. Although Morgan has written a great deal of non-fiction over the years in the form of specialized journal articles, book reviews, op-ed pieces, and (his personal favorite) the most unpopular coffee table book in the history of the planet, he always viewed himself as a happily frustrated novelist. Get more information about Morgan's novel and travel writing at our Products page.

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