Ode to the Patty Melt

I have consumed more ground beef in the past eight weeks than in the past eight years. The patty melt sandwich is to blame. Are you familiar with the patty melt? No need to be embarrassed if you aren't. Prior to my own recent investigations, if someone were to ask me what comprised this American classic I would only be able to get as far as hamburger, bread and cheese.

True, those are the nuts and bolts of a patty melt but only now can I understand and appreciate the details. Let's break it down: A traditional patty melt consists of a well-seasoned ground beef patty, Swiss cheese and grilled onions, grilled (not toasted) on rye. We've been making a lot of these sandwiches recently all in the name of recipe testing. Around our house, homemade Thousand Island dressing is the go-to spread that really "ties the room together." After several attempts at tweaking the traditional recipe and trying to think of a way to make this classic even better, we kept returning to the original. It is times like these when we are forced to give in to simplicity and recognize the inherent greatness of a timeless combination. Stick to these key components and you'll be able to recreate your own personal griddled bliss.

Seriously, go ahead and make one for yourself to see just what I am getting at. Better yet, we'll cook one up for you in just a few weeks. Stay tuned.


What's For Dinner

Roasted Beet, Chanterelle and Goat Cheese Pizza
with green beans, cauliflower, toasted pine nuts and balsamic cranberries


To Answer the Question

While many things have changed since we closed the doors to the cafe, some things remain exactly the same. For example, in spite of our own personal identity crisis, people in the neighborhood still refer to us as "the Little Red Bike People." As such, we have become very accustomed to being asked:

Q: "When are you going to open up again?"

An obvious question I admit, but one we had a difficult time answering.

This is the question that used to cause a knot to form in my stomach, because every time we made an attempt to answer it, the answer never felt honest. The answer was never honest because it was constantly in flux. If you asked me this question three months ago, around the time when we just closed our doors, my response would have been: "Never. We will never open back up again." That would have been my response because that's what you say when you're down on the ground; it's the only natural reflex you can muster when you feel like your heart has been ripped out of your chest.

After a month of acting like hermits and nursing our egos, we decided our only option was to dust ourselves off, get out of the house, and seek inspiration. If the first month sans cafe was about detox, then the second month was all about recovery. I am grateful for the family and friends we got to spend this time with, guiding us in the opportunity to see and experience more of the world. I truly believe it was all of the hysterical camping trips, late-night motivational speeches, incredible meals, and globe trekking that nourished us during this time. It was the donuts from New York, the sunshine from Spain, and the stylish biking culture from Amsterdam that put fire in our bellies. It was my grandfather's peanut butter waffles, and the late night dance-offs, and Saturday morning juice parties that made us hungry for the next adventure. These experiences, and the times in-between, are what made me feel comfortable in my own skin again.

More than three months have passed since we shut the doors to the cafe, and despite all that we have done in-between, it's hard for me to believe so much time has gone by. To be brutally honest about the subject, it took a concerted effort on our part to see each other as husband and wife again, and not as business partners, to convince ourselves, and each other, that we might be ready to try branch back out into the food industry again.

Evan and I are "doers," so it can be difficult when we don't have a project to work on. One thing that we know for certain is that we are currently not ready to launch LRBC version 2.0. We feel lucky to have been able to operate a business that seemed to work effectively on so many different levels, for so many different people. Up to this point we have felt concerned that a misguided attempt at recreating the magic we had experienced on North Lombard Street might in some way tarnish the good memories we were so fortunate to create during these past few years. In some strange way it feels easier to continue to leave the LRBC in a state of limbo, and to force ourselves to branch out in some new (yet somewhat familiar) directions.

Apologies if I am moving way too fast. I know that it is difficult to accept the fact that your beloved cafe will remain (for the time being) in some sort of frozen-Han-Solo state; alive, but in perfect hibernation. The LRBC still exists in our hearts, so we know that the dream of a future home for the cafe need not die. In the meantime, we've been busy planning some fun alternatives that will help tide you over until the day when that other dream comes true. We are elated to share the news that we will soon have an opportunity to cook for the very same North Portland customers who helped legitimize our business in the first place. Perhaps the best part of all, this newest kitchen of ours is on wheels, meaning that this time around we can bring our food to you.

In other words, we are finally able to answer that question that's apparently been plaguing many of us:

A: We are planning on feeding you again soon.

We are still in the beginning stages of working out the details, but rest assured that sometime in the near future we will be introducing a new mobile dining experience to a street near you. Around the same time we are also planning on launching a new retail business, specializing in small batch cakes, jams and granola (yes, these are many of the same recipes you fell in love with at the cafe).

I recently came to the realization that I have spent that last ten years in the food industry, trying to make a living out of creating positive and memorable food experiences for the people around me. Experience proves that this is not an easy task. We didn't get into this business seeking money or notoriety. We wanted to create a neighborhood coffee shop and cafe because of a passion for food, and because we wished to share that passion with others. We are people who tend to follow our nose, react to our gut, and work tirelessly at everything we do. Suffice to say, if we are going to go after something, we are going to do so the only way we know how: at full speed (which according to some is the only speed worth going). This time we acknowledge that we are dreaming big. Please stay tuned as this latest chapter of the story unfolds.