Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Looking in the Screen Door

It was almost embarrassing. Like when I admitted that, as a native Oregonian, I hadn't ever been to the Steens Mountains in the southeastern corner of Oregon. So one year we decided to remedy the situation and rented a trailer at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge for a week.

Hush puppies.

I had no idea there was a huge wetland right in the middle of the high desert, much less a bird sanctuary teeming with birds stopping on their way across the continent. The Steens themselves were gorgeous with amazing views and mountain goats traipsing over rocky outcroppings. And the French Glen Hotel served a mighty fine and welcome dinner after a day spent gallivanting around the countryside. Glad to have finally paid my respects, I slapped myself for not getting there earlier.

The same feeling washed over me when we finally got around to having dinner at the Screen Door on East Burnside. It was Dave's birthday and, after the requisite happy hour oysters (now $12.95/doz.) at Dan & Louis Oyster Bar, we drove over to the eastside and snagged the last four-top in the room.

Crispy fried buttermilk-battered chicken.

After ordering fried oysters (you can never have too many oysters), hush puppies and drinks, we browsed the very reasonably priced menu of Southern classics. I went with the fried chicken, which consisted of three very large pieces of (as advertised) crisply fried and perfectly done chicken pieces on a bed of mashers with a small ramekin of tasso gravy and a side of braised greens and bacon.

Carolina pulled pork sandwich.

Dave went with the (duh) smoked and barbecued brisket with crispy fried onions and, happily substituted by the waitress, a side of the braised greens. The beef was both a smoky and deeply delicious example of the craft as well as being fall-apart tender. Mr. B chose the Carolina pulled pork sandwich in honor of our recently-departed-for-the-Carolinas friend Richard, though this example, while moist and deliciously smoky, was of the southern (sauce cooked with) rather than northern (sauce added after) variety. The white bread bun was a classic of the genre and the crunchy fries were excellent.

The tab was a nice surprise, too, and considering the amount of food we took home in boxes, well worth the trip. Which made us even more ashamed we hadn't been to this place before.

Details: Screen Door Restaurant, 2337 E Burnside. Phone 503-542-0880.

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