PINE STREET MARKET, that new fancy food hall with nine stalls from Portland's heavy-hitting restaurants, is now open for business. But the Eastside hasn't been totally left out: Providore Fine Foods opened in February. It's a more traditional, European-style market anchored by the new home of longtime gourmet grocer Pastaworks. It's a constellation of ready-to-eat foods and high-end groceries, with long blond-wood communal tables for lingering with wine, an impulse purchase of a Little T Baker baguette, and some tangy Taleggio. We've been nibbling our way through Providore, and here are our five favorite bites thus far:
1. Rotisserie Chicken at Arrosto
Ever since the market opened, I've been skulking around Arrosto's bright-yellow window, waiting for the next entry in Portland's ongoing chicken craze. Finally, in mid-April, Arrosto arrived. Pastaworks co-owners Kaie Wellman and her husband Kevin de Garmo discovered their dream bird years ago vacationing on Italy's Ligurian Coast. The three-plus pound, free-range, antibiotic-free chickens are smoked as they luxuriate in the rotisserie, the skin laced with lemon and rosemary oil. The result is a moist bird with infused skin that's made all the better with a bright orange Calabrian chili dipping sauce. For two hungry or three peckish adults, a half bird plus sides ($18) will get the job done. Add the sauce liberally to the meat and the side of golden potatoes roasted in chicken fat. Arrosto is planning on bottling the stuff; I could not be more pleased. (Pro tip: Grab bottles of Grüner and rosé to-go for a reasonable $12 each.)
2. Focaccia from Pastaworks
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Focaccia may be super '90s, but like Doc Martens and Kate Moss, it never really left. A $2.50 slab of Pastaworks' oily, salty, decadent Italian bread is one of the cheapest and most flavor-infused options at Providore. A recent pizza-style slice was slicked with pasta sauce and topped with crispy pancetta. Grab a cup of the simple but stunning cioppino ($5) from Flying Fish Company for the perfect $7.50 lunch.
3. Oysters on the half shell at Flying Fish Company
In the back corner, there's a chic little bar made of Oregon cherry wood, where I've only seen pretty people perch. This is where Flying Fish Company serves up oysters on the half shell (starting at a cheap $2 each). Fresh outta the Pacific Northwest bays, seas, and tidal inlets, these lovely bivalves are served simply with a mignonette.
4. The Woodblock Chocolate Cookie from Little T Baker
This wonder cookie ($3.50) easily enters my top five list of chocolate chip cookies in town. (Yes, I do keep a running mental list of chocolate chip cookies.) With local Woodblock chunks, nuts, and a hint of salt, the cookie itself is moist and yielding. You won't go wrong with any of Little T's stuff, including croissants, a Platonic ideal of a shortbread cookie, and a loaf of bread made with Commons' Urban Farmhouse Ale. Gluten, as their T-shirts say, is magic.
5. The Shooter from Pastaworks
I'll admit it: I really like watching that Gordon Ramsay show Hell's Kitchen. One of the signature dishes he regularly smashes with his fist is beef wellington—that British classic of a beef filet wrapped in mushrooms, sometimes truffles, and always baked in a pastry. The Shooter ($10) is the sandwich version: strip steak and a mushroom duxelle with Dijon ensconced in a baguette shell. It is monumentally rich (and slightly difficult to bite through). It is a very good lunch.
Make it yerself!: Along with the grab-and-go options, Providore's grocery shelves are enough to send me to the ambitious chef poorhouse. Along with local specialties like Marshall's Haute Sauce and the countless imported sauces, olive oils, tins, and chocolates that Pastaworks is famous for, Providore has a few other standouts. The Meat Monger recently had whole rabbits; Flying Fish Company has plenty of sustainable raw fish (sushi grade cuts! Oregon rockfish!); and Rubinette Produce Market boasts hard-to-find veggies and coveted (but pricey) local Ayers Creek Farms dried beans. There's also a nice little bottle shop with an above-average selection of rosé, Emerald Petals flower vendors, and a coffee bar next to Little T that serves Illy coffee.
Providore Fine Foods
2340 NE Sandy
Market hours: daily 9:30 am-7:30 pm; individual stall hours vary.