Using family recipes and a Culinary Institute of America degree, chef Bonnie Morales is turning Portlanders into Russian food fans with her cooking at the new Central Eastside restaurant Kachka. The menu focuses on dishes from her childhood, presented with the refinement of a classically trained chef. Bonnie’s husband, James Beard Award winner Israel Morales, runs the front-of-house and has curated an equally exciting beverage list to accompany her menu: Eastern European wines, Baltic lagers, kvass and of course an extensive selection of vodka. The restaurant itself is fun and casual with guests being encouraged to share small plates family style for what the owner calls a “Ruskie Zakuski (appetizer) experience.”
I hopped up on the bar with Matthew and immediately ordered two cocktails that shared a yellow hue, Bab Yaga and Laika both featuring infused vodka’s, essence of chamomile and tarragon. The interior of the restaurant is rather adorable, featuring a homey Russian folk sensibility. This would be my first taste of Russia since traveling through St Petersburg and Moscow and was looking forward to plopping pelmeni.
Highlights from the snack attack include a plate of assorted pickles (green tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, peppers, sauerkraut), Siberian Pelmeni (filled with beef, pork, veal and onion) and a “get your hands messy feast” via Soviet Dog featuring veal frankfurter, spicy mustard on a pumpernickel bun.
chamomile vodka, liquore strega, lemon
tarragon vodka, grapefruit, tonic
veal frankfurter, spicy mustard, pumpernickel bun
lamb meatballs, adjika, cheese, hoagie roll
dumplings filled with beef, pork, veal and onion
green tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, peppers, sauerkraut