The recipe for the best cake and ice cream involves a crazy salad of herbs, a few science moves, and one bold imagination: Quietly floral tonka bean ice cream dances with tufts of brown-butter cake so shockingly light they almost levitate. On top, a cocoa-colored tube cracks open and gushes hot chocolate-hazelnut liquid over everything, including four different herbs, so each bite is charged by a different experience. It is modernist cooking as rarely executed in Portland, and a sign of another exciting chapter at Castagna: food steeped in botanicals but grounded in the familiar. Castagna has played host to a sequence of respected chefs—most recently, avant-garde forager Matt Lightner, who grabbed headlines and then a major restaurant deal in New York. Now Lightner’s right-hand man, Justin Woodward, has stepped forward with impressive technique and dramatic designs that signal a young artist in bloom. At $55 for three courses, led by a procession of snacks, dinner here is an extra-ordinary deal. Beautifully curated wine pairings add to the adventure.
1752 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Portland, OR 97214