9. Din Din
In one chandelier-lit kitchen, Francophilia, imagination, and local ingredients rule the day.
Every vibrant food city has stylishly scrappy restaurants reveling in tasting menus and dinner-party vibes. Courtney Sproule has taken the next step, overhauling the ambience as often as the food.
From 2007 to 2012, Sproule charmed local eaters with intricate pop-up meals on rooftops, in urban nurseries, and in church basements with her whimsical supper club. Din Din is the brick-and-mortar reincarnation of that vision. Sproule’s passion for reinvention extends to curated music, hand-designed menus, projected movies, and a merriment of comfort and surprise cooked in an open, chandelier-lit kitchen. Menus are small, but tiny gestures loom large. Sproule’s brand of “only what we love” cooking is deployed with French techniques, farm-fresh obsession, and more enthusiasm than the entire cast of Glee.
The mood morphs throughout the day. The all-day coffee bar is a find for flawless cappuccinos sided by French sugar cubes and the kitchen’s candied orange peel. Business types fill the room at lunch, juggling laptops and bowls of perfect pea soup, baguettes holding ham and camembert, and whatever else the kitchen is cooking up that day, as Pavement rocks in the background. Weekend-only dinner menus change monthly, along with the décor and table settings.
920 NE Glisan St
At a recent dinner, I polished off little squares of pain d’epices beneath a ground-cherry mousse with wild huckleberries, a carpaccio of five local tomatoes, and Yamhill County pork glazed in wild plum agrodocle while sitting within an installation of hyperstylized photographs and vintage tabletop tableaus. If you’re not game, Din Din could feel precious and twee. But for the adventurous, no place better expresses the seasons, with more imagination.