Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Quick Hits: Dime Store

Really great Chinese food. A brewpub with a menu that ventures beyond pizza, burgers and fried food. An East Coast-style diner. All in short supply in food-mad PDX. But the diner, that fixture of Americana with stools lining a counter and booths predominating over tables, may have just reappeared on a moribund corner of downtown.

Formerly Leo's Non-Smoking Coffee Shop and before that a series of greasier-than-greasy spoon luncheonettes parked behind the Central Library on SW 11th and Taylor, it was bought and reimagined as a "finer diner" by Dayna McErlean, she of the revitalized corner of NE 30th and Killingsworth's Nonna, DOC and Yakuza.

Hiring the whiz-bang wunderkind Claire Miller, known from her magical touch in the kitchen at Ben Meyer's Grain & Gristle, to run the kitchen at Dime Store was a stroke of genius. Claire, if she'd been born a few decades earlier, would perfectly fit the bill as the sassy proprietor of a classic 50s diner, cigarette dangling from her lip, slinging hash and bon mots at her regulars while feeding them food their mothers would approve of.

Though smoking has gone out of fashion (thank heavens), Claire's menu couldn't be more of a throwback to the days where everything in your favorite diner was handmade from quality ingredients. Breakfast is chock-full of items like granola, flapjacks, home fries and biscuits. Lunch features a meat loaf sandwich to die for, a burger of house-ground beef and a selection of desserts that look like they came from your grandmother's kitchen.

Portland hasn't seen a place like this since the days of yore when the late, lamented Shakers Café took the nascent and as-yet-unbranded Pearl by storm. Let's hope that Dime Store gets the same attention, because this classic is worth keeping.

Details: Dime Store, 837 SW 11th. 503-228-1866.

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