The Dungeness crab is equally picturesque: flawlessly cooked in its shell (also sous vide), the rich, meaty fibers mingle with brown butter and amaranth specked with slivers of preserved lemon skin, all surrounded by daubs of tangy cardamom-infused lemon foam. The result is as beautiful as it is delicious.
Castagna’s rib eye is cooked to a tender medium rare, then blanketed with a paper-thin slice of house-smoked lardo (cured pork fat)—one of gastronomy’s greatest treats. Cooking it sous vide before grilling it allows the meat to retain its prized marbling and also gives it a remarkable tenderness that’s complemented by the velvety complexity of lardo.
In a city where protein is often the pièce de résistance, Lightner’s vegetables are a showcase of exceptional skill. Salsify, a rich, starchy root vegetable, is caramelized and mixed with herbed marrow and crunchy bread crumbs. An onion is prepared in four distinct ways—poached, grilled, pickled, and smoked—then served with a buttery hunk of salted black cod. Every dish is finished with flower petals, micro-herbs, and botanicals plucked with tweezers from newly installed planter boxes behind the restaurant.
For the ever-confident Siu, Lightner’s “nontraditional approach” was appealing. “Menus have gotten very similar in this city,” she says. “I wanted to try to give Portland something different.” Indeed, Castagna’s bold new menu proves the Grand Tour’s enduring truth—that your home will be enriched when you’ve traveled far.