Closing Statement

This is the most difficult post I’ve ever had to write. On Thursday June 29th, we will serve our last dinner and close our doors for good.

Of course, there have been a multitude of factors adding up over the years to bring us to this decision. Ultimately, though, it came down to the fact that I am ready to start my family and it is clear that I cannot possibly run this restaurant and raise a child. Both commitments are too great, and at this point, I’m choosing family.

This breaks my heart because I had hoped that I could do both. This house has been so much more than a restaurant and this crew has been so much more than a group of co-workers. We all wanted to raise our families here together, and with all of you. The learning and growing, the caring and communion we have shared has been extraordinary. We are deeply proud of what we’ve done and we wish we could do more. Unfortunately, we are giving all we have to give and it isn’t nearly enough. As frustrating and disappointing as it is, we are finally ready to let go.
I have already told a few people who are near and dear to The BH, and this is essentially what I’ve told them:

It would have made all rational and financial sense to close when the fire happened, but we just couldn’t….
because of the intensity of devotion from our customers;
because of the overwhelmingly positive and specific feedback from people in all walks of life;
because of the gratitude from our local farmers, artisans and purveyors;
because of the resources we provided to doctors and patients from around the world;
because of the joy we brought to families who could finally eat out together;
because of the ecstasy people felt when they had their first meal in a restaurant without getting sick or being treated like a burden, or their first meal out in however many years…

What I am struggling to convey is that we really did try to stick it out for you folks because we are acutely aware of what we have meant to so many of you. We know because you have told us why you love us and showed us by coming in regularly. It has been exhilarating and sincerely amazing, a ton of fun and very informative.

If it weren’t for these few key things that have added up over the years, if I were five years younger, if we had gotten this popular a little bit sooner….maybe I wouldn’t be writing this.
But they did, and I’m not, and we didn’t…so I am.

And I am so so so sorry. We have all our fingers and toes crossed for a new restaurant from Matt Wells, the incredible chef who is the one and only reason this place was ever possible. Stay tuned for more on that in the coming months. And if something does happen, please support it and let it stand on its own two feet rather than comparing it to The BH.

Please come see us in these next couple weeks if you can. We want to say goodbye.

What farm-direct means to us…

As the phrase “farm-to-table” has become more and more commonplace, for us it begs the question, “which farms, exactly?”  Because every plant and animal product comes from a farm, and so it is a pointless phrase unless the restaurant knows the exact farmers who are raising their ingredients and the practices those farmers are using.  It is not enough to read “cage-free” or “organic” on a price sheet, because those words can essentially mean anything.  It is not enough to read that the animals had a vegetarian diet, or that they are from an Oregon company.  Knowing the people who raise the animals, cultivate (and forage!) the plants and foster the probiotic cultures….that is the bedrock of the farm-to-table movement, and anything else is capitalizing on a catch phrase.

Operating a restaurant with ideals this strong takes constant attention, sacrifice and an amazing amount of flexibility.  There is never enough time or money, and there is always more work than we can truly handle.  At times, it can be incredibly disheartening.  But getting to know our farmers has given us a strong sense of camaraderie, the feeling that there are countless others who are working even harder than we are in the fight for conscious food.  We learn and grow so much, and the lessons never end.  Together, with all of these people, we do as Wendell Berry says,

“…we experience and celebrate our dependence and our gratitude,

for we are living from mystery, from creatures we did not make

and powers we cannot comprehend.” 

We work with so many farmers, and it is my goal to introduce you to all of them over the course of time.  For now, I would like to highlight an organic farm that we are particularly proud to call our supplier and friends:  Persephone Farm

Please take some time to read about this amazing farm, and learn some of the reasons that we are so grateful to know and support them.  Everything in quotes comes from their website, which holds much more information than I could ever write here.  They emailed us the pictures and we have plans to visit Persephone Farm as soon as we can.  They welcome anyone who wants to see what sustainability looks like in action.  For more information, visit their website.

http://www.persephonefarmoregon.com

PERSEPHONE FARM

Certified organic by Oregon Tilth since 1985 and now certified Salmon Safe, the folks at Persephone Farm are beyond committed to true sustainability….they live, eat and breath their ever-growing strategy to make the environment better than they found it.   They have a modest goal of cultivating farm and forest lands that can be used by the next THOUSAND generations, and they take their goal as serious as a heart attack.  “We strive to produce the highest quality, most flavorful foods based on the belief that healthy soil creates healthy plants, which sustain healthy people.”

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The farmers at Persephone do not rest comfortably on the laurels of their organic certification.  They constantly work to improve their practices, and they think critically about each and every impact they have on the world.

“We grow and market only those crops which are adapted to our land and climate.  Early production  of tomatoes, peppers, basil and other crops requires supplemental heat and light to get the plants started in the winter, adding a heavy carbon footprint to out of season food production.  If the organic solution to the problems of agriculture is to pour more limited resources into those problems, then what have we gained?  We greatly appreciate the support of our many customers who respect the natural limits of our farm and willingly wait for Persephone’s harvest to arrive.”

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“Several decades of organic soil building have reduced our need to purchase fertilizer, whiling seeing stabilized soil pH, improved soil tilth, increased cold tolerance in our crops and improved storability and flavors in our produce.  The life of the soil is reflected in the vibrancy of the plants it supports.”

Permacultural is without a doubt the best way to describe Persephone Farm.  There is always more to life than what is right in front of us.  These farmers know that for the best results, they must focus not only on the farm itself, but also on what surrounds the  farm.

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“The forested and riparian areas that border our farm (and the natural wildness which creeps in past the fence line) are an important part of a balanced farm ecosystem.  WE have invited birds and bats to join our insect pest reduction team by providing  houses we’ve hung in trees and on fence posts.  We’ve learned what pollinators and beneficial insects like about wild places and incorporated some of these natural features into the farm landscape.”

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Of course, no conversation about sustainability is complete without a discussion about labor.  The excessive exploitation of farm workers is rampant in this world.   It is devastating to both humanity and the economy.  Persephone Farm creates a working environment that is safe, supportive and fair.  Beyond that, it seems that everyone has a really great time doing what they do.  They have a variety of options for working on the farm, including seasonal farm work and internships.

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“Regardless of which option you choose to purse. You will find that we take our work seriously and we enjoy doing it.  If you work with us in any context you will have the opportunity to taste, cook and learn about new foods; to enjoy the season’s bounty; to gain some basic knowledge of organic farming techniques; and to meet and work with interesting and fun people.”

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“The Greek goddess Persephone spends part of each year in the underworld, tending to the spirits of the dead. As her mother, Demeter, mourns Persephone’s absence, winter spreads over the earth. In spring, when crocuses bloom and announce Persephone’s return, the joy of reunion between mother and daughter fills each seed, bud, and bloom with enthusiasm to burst open and grow.

At Persephone Farm we are grateful for the abundance and beauty we experience in all seasons.

As the first frosts begin to nip at summer’s fruits, and foliage changes color, it feels right to let summer go and plant cover crops to nourish and give back to the soil which has given our lives so much richness.”

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It’s a Date!

Grand Re-opening: Wednesday September 23, 2015  

5:00pm to 10:00pm

Reservations very much appreciated and recommended

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Our GoFundMe fundraiser is still active.  Please consider contributing; everything helps.

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After over three months of waiting and wondering, we are thrilled to finally announce the date of our grand reopening.  We still have a great deal to accomplish in these coming days (including finishing the floors and painting the entire house!), but we are now confident that our timeline is realistic enough to release to the public.  We hope that you will join us to celebrate, and to see all of the beautiful changes. They have proved to be the silver linings of this otherwise stressful and frustrating bump in the road.

We will open as a dinner restaurant only, with the possibility of more in the future.  For now,

our new hours will be WEDNESDAY thru SUNDAY, 5:00 to 10:00.

For those who are not aware of what happened, or for those who are still a little unclear about what exactly did happen, here is a little recap:

In late May, we announced that we would close on the first Sunday in June to get a three-day stretch of house renovations.  We took up our old carpet, sanded the original hard wood floors, polished them with linseed oil, painted the walls and floors in the downstairs area by the restrooms, and cleaned the entire house from top to bottom……..all in temperatures ranging from 90 to 98 degrees throughout the days.

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We finished on Tuesday evening around 5:00.  As we were locking up, we left a plastic bucket on our front porch that was about a quarter-full of linseed oil with a lid set loosely on top.   We left it there so it wouldn’t leave a ring mark on our newly polished floors.  The bucket was in the shade, but the heat was too much and the liquid was too low in the bucket, allowing dangerous gases to build up.  That gas spontaneously combusted into flames.  The flames melted the side of the bucket, hopped over to a number of flammable items within reach (including the carpet), climbed up the side of our front porch and licked the tip of our roof around the rain gutters.

BBM is the one of the best messaging application for the computer. Download BBM for PC is becoming a competition for the Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Wechat and Hike application.

The folks who own Southeast Grind ran to the rescue with a fire extinguisher and put out the fire while customers at Bushwhacker Cider called the fire department.  By the time firefighters arrived, the fire was just a smoldering mess to manage rather than a full-scale house fire that could have put us out of business.  Ultimately, we owe the continuation of our business to these brave, loving people.

Immediately upon arrival, the fire inspector approached my vehicle to assure me that he knew exactly what had caused the fire and that he was positive it was an accident.  He said that it was the second time that week and it was only Tuesday!

So this is the point where I will add a clear public service announcement…

LINSEED OIL IS DANGEROUS, EVEN WITHOUT RAGS. 

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The next day we gathered to access the damage and decide what to do.  We discussed closing the restaurant and cutting our losses, but we fought through the feelings of defeat and reached out to our biggest fans.  Within a few days, we had raised over $5,000.  That completely carried us until we started to see financial help from our insurance company and gave us a sincere belief that this restaurant is worth fighting for.  And now that the construction is all coming together, it’s starting to LOOK like a restaurant worth fighting for.

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Now we are over three months down the road and we have almost missed the entire summer bounty.  Because the insurance money comes in tiny spits and spurts, we were not able to stock up on fruits and veggies to preserve for winter.  Now that we are getting close to reopening, we have asked our glorious farmers to extend some short-term credit so we can take advantage of September’s harvest.  Again we are reminded of why we love them all so much.

So while Kennedy Reconstruction finishes their beautiful work on our beloved house, we are getting our creative juices flowing and getting our hands dirty.  Tomorrow we will be gone pickin’ at Sauvie Island Farms to collect a variety of corns, peppers and tomatoes to fire roast then vacuum seal for winter.  We also hear there are a few golden raspberries that we will vacuum seal as well.  On Saturday we will go to the PSU Farmer’s Market to get a big load of essentially every pepper under the hot hot sun, a variety of onions and tomatoes, peaches and berries.  As we play and process, we will use the inspiration of beautiful produce to create our newest menu.

Worry not, because the most treasured items will remain.  Goulash, Alfredo, Crispy Kale and Grilled Sweet Potatoes are safe.  But the last menu was written in early spring, so anyone who knows us knows that we couldn’t possibly reopen with that menu in early fall….

We would like to thank everyone for being so patient and supportive, and for taking the time to reach out during the closure.  It has been so reassuring to know that people are waiting in the wings to devour our food.  We will post the new menu as soon as it is ready, and we will look forward to your taking your reservations soon.

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A Proceeds Day for Outgrowing Hunger

September 27th, 2014 from Noon to 9:45

Outgrowing Hunger

5-course Dinner beginning at 6:00

Reservations are required; no set seating times

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 10% of REVENUES (not profits) for the entire day will be donated to

Outgrowing Hunger,

which helps the poorest communities in East Portland 

get large garden spaces to raise nutritious food.

They empower the poor and feed the malnourished…

and they need our help.

 

We want sustainability to be at the heart of everything that we do, and sustainability is a very dynamic concept.  It’s more than “local”, “healthy” or “eco-friendly”.  All of those concepts play their roles, but there is a bigger picture.  We call ourselves a sustainable company, but what does that really mean?  Ultimately, we concluded that sustainability is something that we must constantly reach for, even though we may never fully grasp.  Our challenge is to find the balance between supporting ourselves and supporting others; being sure to give all that we can without putting the restaurant in jeopardy.

 

We decided to team up with Outgrowing Hunger because we share a common mission: increase wide-spread access to nutritious foods that were naturally and locally produced.  Our business will never truly be successful while so many in our community go hungry.  This month marks one year of helping raise funds for Outgrowing Hunger, and there are many years to come.  Unfortunately, the need for food assistance is perpetual and so must be our commitment to providing it.

 

Our sponsors are donating and discounting food for this event because 10% of revenues (not profits) is a huge donation for a struggling restaurant like ours.  These donations are vital to the sustainability of this project, allowing us to do more events like this in the future as well as continue our daily operations of supporting local farms and offering nutritious meals.  The people behind these companies see the clear benefit in participating in this event because they know the value of a healthy, thriving community.  Our gratitude runs deep, and we are proud to partner with such amazing businesses.

 

These are the outrageously generous folks who have already joined us in supporting Outgrowing Hunger:

 

Gerstenfarm, donating non-GMO, organic, free-range duck eggs and organic produce

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Whole Foods Market, donating a ton of produce, as well as 18 year-aged balsamic

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Finnriver Cider, donating a variety of artisan ciders

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Rick Steffen Farm, offering a 20% discount on their produce order for that day

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Outgrowing Hunger Gardens, is bringing produce, of course

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DeNoble Farms donated a bunch of heirloom brassica, golden & red beets, & more!

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Full of Life Farms donated THREE BOXES 100% grass-fed & -finished beef & bones

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Vivacity Spirits donated a bottle of their direct-trade Turkish Coffee Liquor

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The 5-course dinner menu has us utterly thrilled:

Oregon Cheese, Fruit & Honey Plate….paired w/ Hellfire White Wine

Salad Nicoise w/ seared Washington Albacore…..paired w/ Finnriver Fresh Hopped Cider

Duck Confit w/ brassica & delicata…paired w/ Finnriver Farmstead Apple

Beef Short Ribs w/ demi glace & purple carrot puree…paired w/ Finnriver Sparkling

Apple, Pear & Quince Crisp w/ cranberry sauce & whipped cream…paired w/ Finnriver Black Current

 

The Windows of Spring

Foraging, Planting, Harvesting, Preparing

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Clarence & Co. are invaluable garden helpers

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Peppers on the garden patio at the restaurant
Photo by Heidi Janke

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Garlic, shallots, borage, tomatoes & parsley in the garden at home
Photo by Heidi Janke

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Chives, pansies & lettuces on the garden patio at the restaurant
Photo by Heidi Janke

 

There’s a lot going on right now, and it’s all happening very quickly. bigolive apk  Spring is a time of long-anticipated wild shoots and leaves that can easily get eaten by slugs or become bitter as they bolt in the sun.  These foods are precious and their window as edibles is small.  We revised our menu to exchange items like fiddleheads and miner’s lettuce for asparagus and snow peas.  The strawberries are finally ready for the plucking, and cucumbers are finally ready to make their debut.

It’s also a time to play the annual guessing game of, “When to plant what.”  Is the warm weather really here to stay?  Is it too late for broccoli?  Too early for peppers?  But the farmers, foragers and general food-lovers of the Pacific Northwest are up for the challenge, year after year.

Gardening for a restaurant adds another level of hope to the early- to mid-spring planting.  Getting a jump-start feels like we are getting that much closer a fresher product for a much lower price.  Sometimes the rain has its way with the little starts and it’s money down the drain, but most of the time the sun comes out soon enough for the starts to make their long summer journey to the finish line.  Along the way, we pluck and prune to get the best yields and strive to let as little food reach the ground as possible.

We’ve been gardening for our guests for years, with a greater harvest each year.  When we opened The Brooklyn House, we planted what we thought was adequate.  It became almost immediately apparent that we had severely under-planted and our efforts would need to more than double in 2014.  The weather was particularly hot this past May, making it impossible to resist putting sun-lovers in the ground to soak up the rays and set down their roots.

We get our starts from Tony’s Garden Store on SE Holgate & 103rd because they grow all of their own veggie starts themselves, then pass the savings to the customer.  We bought flats upon flats of annuals, plopped them in the plots and plucked off all their little flowers.  They got several days of hot, hot sun (with early morning waterings, of course), some mild warm days, and now the rain is pummeling them with a great force they have never known.   The climbing cucumbers are having none of it, but the bush cucumbers are holding their own just fine.  The snow peas are having a field day, and the night-shades are standing proud, promising to weather the storm and grow stronger in the face of adversity.  My partner (in life and in gardening) reminds me that a 100% transplant success rate is rare, and I should be happy with our 80%.  We will replant!

While we wait patiently through spring for our own plants to produce, we rejoice in what our farmers are bringing to market.   Our new relationship with the folks at Rick Steffen Farm is proving to be a glorious one.   We pick up our orders at their stand at the PSU Farmer’s Market and proceed to delight our guests with the colorful spread: purple and orange cauliflower, green and purple broccoli, tender asparagus, curly purple kale, bright green cabbage and tasty little snow peas.  Oregon has a lot to offer, and our passion lies in serving it to you.

As time marches on, the warm rainy spring will be replaced with a dry hot summer, and some windows will close while others open.  We are on the edge of our seats waiting for nightshade veggies and the stampede of cherries and berries.  But for now, we are delighted with the bounty of spring in Oregon, and all the little windows of time that keep us on our toes.

Pint-sized preferences:

No one puts baby in the corner!

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Sometimes it seems that people think we are just trying to be nice when we tell them to bring the kids.  That is not the case…we sincerely enjoy the company of people younger than ourselves, and we take great pleasure in seeing them enjoy our nourishing food.

This house has been serving families comforting food since long before we were here.  The culture that we entered into is a culture that we are happy to continue supporting.  In the years we have been in this house, we have had watched families grow and change in so many ways.  Guests come in to tell us they are pregnant, bring in babies just a few hours old,

let toddles crawl around our dining room floor, celebrate good grades, come in before the prom & after graduation ceremonies.  When we say that we are a family place, we are serious as heart attack.  “You better bring that baby in!” is not an uncommon thing to hear us hollering at people as they leave after their dinner.

So why no children’s menu?  Simple.  We don’t want to put your child in a box in the corner of our menu.  We are not going to make assumptions about a person’s preferences simply because of his or her age.  We are not going to assume that your child only wants starch and dairy, that they don’t like meat and veggies, and that they want bland flavors.  We don’t have “alternative menus” for adults, and we do not intend to create one for children.

We want to have a conversation with your children.  We want to know what they like to eat, and if there’s anything new they want to try.  If it’s just noodles and oil, that’s just fine with us.  But if they want to add some chicken, or a meatball, that’s fine too.  Maybe they want a little bit of cauliflower, maybe not.

One of the best parts of this job is helping children develop these types of social skills while encouraging them to verbalize their desires and eat fresh, healthy food. That is why we volunteered for the Kids Cooking Corner healthy cooking demo this month, and why we intend to continue helping that non-profit succeed in exactly the same goals.  Partnered together, we will foster a brighter future with people who will have a strong connection to their food and their farms.

Our concern with making a “children’s menu” has also been that kids will be less likely to ask for what they would really like to eat and much less likely to try something new.  Adults tend to be comfortable asking to modify a menu item, asking what a dish is like or ordering something special all together.  But most kids don’t want to draw attention to themselves in restaurants.

Also, of course, with the variety of dietary allergies that children are diagnosed with everyday, it seems like a waste of time to create a separate menu that is going to be modified just as much as our “adult” menu.

We want to keep things as simple as possible for everyone.  We use whole foods and freshly prepare our dishes, so it’s easy to look through our menu to create a meal that works for people of all ages.

And if you need something put in the blender for the littlest ones, just let us know 🙂

 

Moderation will support us all

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Owning a restaurant is like an extreme sport.  We have to be ready for a rush at any moment, and have a variety of options to keep each guest feeling supported and intrigued.  If the rush doesn’t come, we have to be ready to go into survival mode and find interesting ways to re-create, preserve and otherwise utilize products so as to not waste the money already invested.  We still have to pay the bills, and we still have to replace the fresh food that went by the way side for the folks we are hoping will come in the future.  We are orchestrating an intricate ballet on the edge of a cliff that doesn’t have any safety nets.  It’s terrifying and exhilarating and we could fall over the edge at any point.

So why do we do it?  I so often speak for my co-workers, but I’ll tell you confidently that we are all addicted to the sensational joy of serving people healthy, affordable comfort food.  Ultimately, it was our combined passion for serving people in this house that led to us dancing on the edge of financial disaster for the opportunity to do something spectacular, something so poetically beautiful.

The rewards for such suspended periods of anxiety may seem simple to most, but they are everything to us.  People feel safe eating out for the first time in years because of us.  People are relieved to know that we are still in this little house-restaurant, where they have made family traditions and lifetime memories.  Farmers have had checks put directly in their hands, November starts to get busy leading up to Thanksgiving, and business builds steadily, culminating in the epic week between Christmas and New Year’s.  We over-extend our tiny staff while we watch people indulge financially and calorically for a solid month or so…….. Then come the tumbleweeds.  They blow through the dining room with wild abandon as people stay home to make up for all the money they spent and the treats they ate and drank. These are the times that make people cringe.  Food service workers are cringing because business is so slow, and everyone else is cringing because they are thinking about their New Year resolutions to eat healthier and spend less.  It’s not fun for anyone, yet it happens every year.  So this is the part where we suggest something different, something better.

Take advantage of our two greatest assets: healthy comfort food & portion size options.

Below are examples of how two people who are willing to share plates can get a meal that is filling, delicious and truly healthy for $30, give or take a buck.  Granted, it doesn’t include alcohol, but that’s not normally on the New Year’s resolution meal suggestion list….;)

A colorful spread of tasty nutrition…

Small Mixed Green Salad $4

Small Brussel Sprouts $7

Small Grilled Sweet Potatoes $4

Small Meatball Plate $10

A piece of our “you’ll never believe when we tell you how healthy this is” lemon bar $6

Total: $31 for a farm-fresh, high-protein, low-starch, low-dairy, fiber-filled, vitamin-packed meal for two that includes dessert!

Want a vegan suggestion?

Small Baked Kale Salad $5

Mushroom Ragout w/ grilled sweet potatoes & roasted veggies $16

Raw Cookie Dough Bar (equally as unbelievably healthy) $8

Total: $29 for a completely vegan meal for two, which meets all of the qualifications above

Want something a little heartier?

Small Classic Ceasar $6

Wine-braised Lamb w/ root veggies & white beans $18 add roasted veggies $3

A slice of Granny Smith Apple & Mountain Elderberry tart $4

Total: $31 for a hearty, healthy, savory meal for two that comforts the body and lifts the spirit

We are versatile.  Think of us for your celebrations, and think of us on nights when you don’t want to cook but you don’t want to splurge.  We are here to support our guests’ health by helping people manage portion sizes, offering a full menu of healthy foods and keeping prices absolutely as low as we possibly can.  We are all in this together.  If we support each other modestly throughout the entire year, we will all be the better for it.  Please come in and let us know what choices you are making to make your life better.  We’ll give you a high five and get you a great meal.  We are looking forward to it.

 

 

Our Home for Portland Holidays

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A Crew of Transplants

Working on the Holidays has a very bad repuation, and over the years, we have received many people’s sympathies.  I get it.  I used to work in a hospital cafeteria and even though I was happy to serve patients who couldn’t be at home, I didn’t love it.  I can’t imagine if I had to spend a holiday in a corporate retail chain store!

But this place is different. Working in our cozy house with candles on the tables, a crock pot of gluhwein, a kitchen full of nourishing food and groups of smiling families pouring in the door….that doesn’t sound like work, that sounds like a dream come true.

This is our Home for the Holidays.

The Brooklyn Crew is built of transplanted foodservice workers, and anywhere we go in this city will not be “home for the holidays.” But all of us made that choice when we moved here years ago knowing that was part of the package.  What we do with our time otherwise is what makes it count.  Putting comfort food on your holiday table so that we can continue sustaining
our business and supporting our farmers…that’s what counts.

Oregon farmers wait all year to sell the heritage turkeys they’ve raised, or the cranberries they’ve worked all year to harvest.  It’s the restaurants that buy their products for Holiday service that keep farmer’s around to farm another year.  We all want to be around another year and the Holidays help make that possible.

What it does for you is help to relieve some of the financial and energetic stress of Holiday meal service while relaxing in the comfort of our home-away-from-home.  We can do the work, feed you just what you need (to avoid wasting time and money on leftovers people don’t want), and we will clean up when you are finished.  At the end of the night, we will all sleep better.

Please come to our house for the Holidays.  We are more than happy to be here and we promise to treat your family like our own.  We’re transplants; we’re good at that.

The House and The ‘Hood

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We chose the name “The Brooklyn House Restaurant” to give folks as much information as possible about where we are: we’re in the Brooklyn neighborhood, in a house, which happens to operate as a restaurant.  It turns out that a surprising number of Portlanders have been confused by the “Brooklyn” part, asking about connections to Brooklyn, NY.  So here’s a little history about our cute little gasthaus and the cute little neighborhood where is sits….

The area was originally called “Brookland” because
of the rivers and creeks throughout the area.  By the 1890’s, the Oregon Central Railroad laid tracks, people (mostly German) moved in and the corner of Powell and Milwaukie became the town center.  People eventually shortened the name to “Brooklyn”.   Starting in the 1920’s, a series of construction projects served to break up the thriving neighborhood in a variety of ways and cultivate a culture of disinvestment, poverty and crime.   Even though it became the first neighborhood association in Portland in the 60’s, it wasn’t until the 80’s that the area started to really turn around.   We now enjoy a culturally rich neighborhood that is a desirable place to visit, work and live.

Our house was built in 1922 as a private residence at the end of the booming growth.  It was later sold as a boys’ boarding house and stayed that way until 1978 when it became a German restaurant called The Edelweiss House.  It closed in the late eighties, then struggled through a couple failed attempts at other ventures before becoming The Berlin Inn Restaurant, Bakery & Wine Stube.  For 21 years, memories were made that are generational, memories that are important to a lot of people.  This house has seen babies a few hours old; toddlers learning to walk; teenagers graduate high school; lovers get engaged; holidays, birthdays, weddings and wakes; folks being wished fair-well and folks being welcomed home.

Now that the Berlin Inn has closed, we who worked those final years know what this place means to people.  We understand that by opening The Brooklyn House, we have taken responsibility for something greater than ourselves.   We are here to witness and care for the next generation of memories to be made.  There will be more babies, more lovers, more fair-wells and welcome-homes…and we will be here for all of it.  When you need a home to come to and a family waiting for you, we’ll be here, happily situated in the Historical Brooklyn Neighborhood.

If you’re looking for a fun day,  
bike down the East Bank Esplanade to Brooklyn.  Stop by The Southeast Grind for a coffee, The Portland Juice Press for a fresh juice, Know Thy Food Grocery for local snacks, picnic at Brooklyn Park and continue down to Oaks Bottom for nature hiking.   Come back north for a cider at Bushwhacker Cider, over to our place for dinner and end the night with a show at The Aladdin Theater or Replicant.   We have bus lines 9,17,19 & 70, and the Max Orange Line construction will finish soon with a stop just north of 12th & Powell.

We are truly Portland: music, nature, public transportion and a Slow Food Revolution!  Come down to 97202 for a touch of history, a taste of Oregon and a breath of fresh air.

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“Accommodation” is a dirty word!

A story about dietary specifications

      We all have a list of foods, however large or small, that do anything from rub us the wrong way to threaten our health.  Some of us bare through it and profess it’s no big deal, some us of stand our ground and demand our meals be prepared without the offending foods.  When I was younger the list was loooooong and I face the risk of “starvation” rather than consume anything on it.  I was always grateful when servers were nice to me about my no mayo/well-done steak/sauce on the side neediness.  As a server myself, I knew it was a pain.  But I wanted it that way and, as a server, I knew it was their jobs to get it for me.  I gradually became more accepting of various foods and chose to eat everything presented to me while I lived in France.  I didn’t want to be that American, nope.  With the exception of beef tartar, I ate it all and I liked most of it.

I left France in search of a new life in Portland where I could get my fresh baguettes, farmer’s market produce, farm-direct meats & cheeses and dinner out at a different cuisine any night of the week.   My list got much shorter to include only cilantro, mustard and horseradish/wasabi.  Not too bad; I say they’re like David Byrne, you either love them or you hate them.  But then came the gluten free revolution, and I had to add something HUGE to the list.  It became of list of its own.

Of course I didn’t have to, but I did chose to spend a few days without gluten to see what all the fuss was about.  Within a few minutes, I started to learn all kinds of ways that my body likes to react to gluten exposure, and I chose to add gluten to the list of “absolutely no way…I’d rather go hungry.”  Because honestly, how I pay for it later is far worse than temporary hunger.   People shake their heads at me, but I don’t care.  Watching people shake their heads is far better than cold symptoms and gut-wrenching pain.  And as a restaurant owner, when servers give me sass for my dietary specifications, I have no patience.  I know it’s their job to get me what I want and watching them formulate opinions about my dietary choices as I order my meal is unnecessary.  It’s none of their business why I don’t eat gluten, whether it’s because I have celiac’s disease or am just “following a fad”.  I doesn’t matter if I’m allergic to tomatoes or I just think they’re gross if they aren’t sun-ripened.  I don’t want to worry that I’m offending the chef’s art by insulting the ingredient list.  That’s ridiculous.

We understand that when you dine with us, you’ve made an important choice about how to nourish your body and spend your time and money.   If you tell us you are allergic, sensitive or just flat out don’t like a food(s), then we will tell you what we can make that is both delicious and meets those specifications.  Period.  No rude service, no back-of-the-house complaining, no food contamination…just a clear understanding of your needs and a flawless execution for a leisurely dining experience, just like everyone else gets.  How’s that for art?

In this house, “accommodation” is a dirty word.  We are here for everyone just the same, because we know that everything isn’t for everyone.  Tell us what you want.  It’s no problem; it’s our pleasure.