Many people go to Sycamore Kitchen for the sticky pecan rolls, the kouign amann, or the chewy peanut-coconut bars, and it is hard to blame them. The restaurant is the new breakfast-lunch project of Quinn and Karen Hatfield, of the estimable Hatfields Restaurant, and it is a chance to taste Karen's pastries without the expense or trouble of a long tasting menu. Sycamore Kitchen is mostly shady patio, which is nice this time of year; the limeade is delicious, and they are one of the very few places at the moment serving the cult coffees from Stumptown, a brand Portland and Brooklyn have in common.
There are salads too, big ones with perfect greens and tiny sparks of things like hazelnuts and blue cheese; bruschetta topped with things like homemade ricotta and a mosaic of citrus fruits; and sandwiches stuffed with turkey and thinly sliced Camembert; shortribs with cheese; or bacon, avocado, and a double wallop of braised pork-belly – what has to be the porkiest sandwich this side of Mozza-to-Go's porchetta panini. The breakfasts, which should start any day now, are probably going to be good too.
But the real reason you should go to Sycamore Kitchen – why you should get in the car and drive there right now – is the little pail of potato chips you can order as a side, discs of pure crunch that somehow broadcast the presence of good oil without being at all greasy, are salted to a degree just on the gentle side of stinging, and taste of the very best potatoes. They are the best I have tasted in a lifetime of extensive potato eating, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Hatfields somehow became the Laura Scudder of the 21st century.