Thursday, March 29, 2018

The American Local Will Close on SE Division on April 7

The American Local, one of SE Division's best restaurants, is closing after a four-year run. Owners Jenny Nickolaus and Chris Whaley tell Ravenous Traveler they will turn off the lights after service on April 7.

"We just got slower and slower after the election and never really got our balance back," Jenny says.

The American Local has been one of my favorite restaurants in Portland since the get-go (so much so I placed it on the Eater PDX 38 in 2016). Serving playful, izakaya-inspired dishes, it's a place where you can really enjoy eating vegetables, as well as bacon. Those sleek cumin roasted carrots came with creamy avocado and smoked yogurt spiked with crunchy sunflower seeds, every ingredient playing a supporting role in honor of the carrot. Those bacon beignets, when on point, made Voodoo Doughnut's maple-bacon bar look like a snack for children.

But what I'll really miss about the space was Chris's melding of flavors and seasonings within a party-forward atmosphere all of Jenny's making. Slightly smoked trout "tartare" comes atop a crispy grit cake with creme fraiche, reminding me of both the American South and Russian caviar with blini. For the sweet-spicy knockout, skewers come puncturing smoky pork belly glazed with maple syrup and finished with sriracha. On-tap saké and a solid cocktail program washed it all down.

Chris had opened seven restaurants before The American Local, but The American Local was the first he owned and operated. During their run, Chris and Jenny embraced Oregon's farming community and Portland's crafty fleet of artisan products, like Ota tofu and Forest Grove's Momokawa saké by SakéOne. Until April 7, the 50-seat restaurant will maintain regular hours, operating Tuesday through Saturday, from 5:30 to 10 p.m., at 3003 SE Division St.

Cumin roasted carrots at The American Local [Photo: American Local]

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