Where can you find a 12-foot duck statue, burgers built on fried brioche buns and second locations of some of Portland’s best restaurants?
Starting next month, you’ll find them at Mercato Grove, a new Lake Oswego development at 4055 Mercantile Drive with more than 200 apartments, 50,000 square-feet of retail, a giant duck from Danish company Monstrom and six distinct restaurants from the ChefStable group.
As first reported by The Oregonian/OregonLive.com back in January, those half dozen restaurants include some of Portland’s best-known dining options, including second locations for St. Jack, Oven & Shaker, Lardo and Grassa. Fills Donuts, the Berliner-style doughnut shop that opened its first location in downtown Portland during the pandemic, will open a stand-alone shop rebranded simply as Fills, adding burgers, thin-cut fries and soft serve at lunch and dinner.
Sandwich shop Lardo and pasta spot Grassa were the first out of the gate, opening their third and fourth Portland-area locations, respectively, at the still-under-construction Mercato Grove in April. Next out of the gate will be Tasty, a revival of Portland’s once beloved Tasty N Sons set to open July 1 in a 100-seat space with room for nearly that many on a large outdoor patio along Southwest Boones Ferry Road.
Here’s what we know about the remaining restaurants opening this summer:
Last July, longtime Tasty general manager Faye Crosswhite and chef Michael Kessler joined baker Katherine Benvenuti and ChefStable’s Kurt Huffman in buying the Tasty brand from former Portland chef John Gorham, who has since moved to Central Oregon. After hosting a pop-up series at the old Bar King space this spring, the group is taking their first crack at a new Tasty location in Lake Oswego, with a second location already in the works for Southeast Portland.
The new Tasty transports the look, vibe and menu of the old Portland restaurants straight to the suburbs, with sleek furniture, exposed brick walls and a cocktail menu filled with Bloody Marys, bubbly drinks and boozy coffee. Kessler’s globally inspired food menu launches Wednesday with dinner five nights a week and, in a first for the brand, reservations for weekend brunch. Happy hour is on deck as soon as the restaurant beefs up its kitchen staff. Go to tastylakeoswego.com for more information.
“Tasty has something for everyone,” says Crosswhite, whose favorite dishes include the brunch bibimbap and cedar-plank salmon at dinner. “We do brunch, lunch and dinner. It is approachable, eclectic, and Mike really pulls inspiration from his travels. So you’ll see lots of little bits and bobs that have roots in Spanish cooking, North African cooking, Mediteranean cooking. But really it’s something that anybody could walk into the restaurant and find something that they want.”
Fills Donuts opened in the original Blue Star Donuts space last October, offering Benvenuti’s “brioche-ish” dough piped with an array of fillings and seasonal glazes. Those tangy doughnuts, more savory than sweet, did double duty as buns for a breakfast sandwich made with an bacon-egg patty and chili aioli.
Starting July 4, Fills — the “Donuts” was dropped — will continue to focus on doughnuts in the morning, with classic crullers and glazed rings joining the Berliner lineup, plus an expanded breakfast sandwich section. But starting at 11:30 a.m., Fills becomes Lake Oswego’s latest burger spot, with throwback burgers on fried brioche buns, good French fries, a soft-serve sundae menu and family burger kits to take home. “Cooked with Cannabis” host Leather Storrs stepped away from the company this year, but Erin Skipper (Baker & Spice) has jumped on board as General Manager. Look for Fills to launch from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 4, then take a break before opening full-time the next day, with hours running to 9 p.m..
“I really want you to feel like you’re eating at a classic burger shop, In-N-Out, A&W, with great soft serve, an affordable burger, but we’re using really high-quality ingredients,” Benvenuti said. “Calling it Fills hopefully alleviates a little bit of that confusion for people and makes it feel like they’re not going to a doughnut shop at night to get a burger.”
Lac St. Jack
Perhaps the most exciting addition where Lake Oswegans are concerned, Lac St. Jack is the second location for Aaron Barnett’s popular French restaurant, which has spent the past decade high up on lists of Portland’s best restaurants for its increasingly polished takes on a Lyonnais bouchon. Barnett will be on hand for Lac St. Jack’s opening months alongside chef Elise Walker, whose rustic-refined approach should help distinguish the restaurant from the finesse French-trained chef John Denison shows at the Northwest Portland location.
“They asked us for a St. Jack-type restaurant, and we talked about how it could change to simplify or make it easier to manage.” Barnett said. “And I kind of made the decision that if it’s going to be something that I’m a part of, I need it to be something that I’m proud of. So it’s going to have comfort, but it’s going to be loud. For us, doing something stripped down or simplified would be a disservice, and frankly dull for me. We’re going to do it properly. Cocktails are the same quality and style. The wine program is tailored but well thought out. Bone marrow is going to make an appearance.”
Green-and-white tiles, brass fixtures and other ornate details are inspired by 1920s Paris — those dark clamshell booths are calling our name — while the service is led by Donan Whelan, the former general manager at Santa Monica’s Michelin-starred Rustic Canyon. Bone marrow and other “more esoteric” dishes will be joined by seafood crudo, oysters and other fruits de mer, as well as brasserie classics such as chicken liver mousse, pied de cochon and several different steak frites options. Look for Lac St. Jack to open with dinner service on July 15, with lunch to follow before the new year.
Oven & Shaker
The last restaurant to go online will be the wood-fired pizzeria first opened by Nostrana owner Cathy Whims of Nostrana and Aviation Gin founder Ryan Magarian, currently targeting an August opening. Look for classic Italian dishes made with Pacific Northwest ingredients, fruit-forward cocktails and pizzas baked in an Acunto oven from Naples.
The patio area around Fills, with Tasty and Lac St. Jack on one side and Oven & Shaker on the other, will host a grand opening celebration on July 24 and 25, with live music and “a little something” from each restaurant, including wine tastings and free doughnuts, according to events manager Natalia Toral. Outdoor areas will play host to events throughout the summer, including St. Jack’s Beaujolais Nouveaux, Lardo’s Hazy Daze Beer Festival and chef dinners including a collaboration between Barnett and Le Pigeon chef Gabriel Rucker on August 12.
Lardo and Grassa are open now, while Tasty opens July 1, Fills on July 4, Lac St. Jack on July 15 and Oven & Shaker as soon as August at 4055 Mercantile Drive. A grand opening event with live music and food will be held on July 24 and 25.