I've been curious about Ned Ludd for a while, as it seemed to be part of that Portland hipster-foodie family. It's on an odd stretch of MLK Boulevard, so I'd never even seen it, despite the fact that it's not too far from my new house. Somewhere while indulging in my almost daily habit of reading restaurant menus online, I checked up on theirs and saw things like rustic old-school pickles and puerh tea kombucha on the beverage menu. That, along with all of the homemade meats and diversity of vegetable dishes really got me interested. Then, I checked back on their website and saw that they'd taken over the empty lot behind the restaurant and turned it into a community garden, and I was sold.
Initially, I didn't rush to Ned Ludd because most of the menu comes out of their wood-fired oven. When I hear that, I immediately think "pizza," and since I jumped off of the wheat train a while ago, I was hesitant. What I discovered last night was that the fruit wood smoke in that oven lends a deep, well rounded flavor to many other things (fish, meats, vegetables), and I didn't even see a pizza on the menu (the bread served there comes from Fressen bakery - specialists in rustic whole grain breads).
When I walked in to the restaurant, I immediately fell for the rustic atmosphere - salvaged wood, mismatched chandeliers and brick. My friend and I started our meal last night with the charcuterie and pickle plates. Normally, I don't order charcuterie because - why would I want to pay extra for salami that I can just go to a deli and buy myself? But this was all homemade, and really interesting. My favorite thing in the spread was a gelatinous cockscomb terrine (yes, that thing on a rooster's head) - a chilled , delicious treat that had the flavor of the richest chicken stock crossed with Thanksgiving stuffing. The lamb rilletes were tasty but unusual, and their housemade bresaola was thin and delicate. The plate also included a rabbit pate, salami and pickled onion.
The pickles! This simple $5 selection may have been what impressed me most - five different fruits and vegetables, each with such a delightful and different taste: blueberries, zucchini, cucumber, red onion, and pattypan squash.
That lovely start was followed by a lovely salad of lettuce, gravlax (salmon cured in the woodfired oven), and pinkish peppers. Then, I finished this garden vegetable extravaganza with their roasted vegetable plate that included chanterelle mushrooms, new potatoes, acorn squash, peppers and other wonderful things topped with a "salsa verde" which was more like an herb toppping or sauce gribiche. We asked for some of their harissa aioli on the side - a great call. My friend ordered a hen leg in mole which was nice though I'm not a fan of mole in general.
We were stuffed, and I was sad to see food left on our plates. Despite that, my friend couldn't resist ordering the smores,since they're cooked in that oven, and I couldn't resist taking a bite. Okay, eating half. The way the chocolate oozed out with the marshmallow...