The Sudra will amaze the best of us. Somehow this small bar in Portland, Oregon has managed to fill itself with heaps of delicious Indian inspired cuisine that embodies so much more than typical bar food ever could. Expect to be smacked around with spices, flavors and nutrition in each item on the menu, because these unique creations have powerful impacts on the palate.
We’ve mentioned nutrients, allow us to elaborate. EVERY item on the menu, from alcoholic beverage to dessert, had extraordinarily nourishing elements. We were honestly surprised by this detail because in no form does The Sudra claim this trait on their site. Even we doubt that we accurately assessed the alimentary value of each item, it’s almost too bold to be true.
Even their cocktails have nutritive value! The pressed juice lovers are going to die for this adult beverage, aptly named Beet Generation, which mixes Volstead Vodka with lemon and beet juices. Believe it or not that was the not what made this drink eccentric… the brine did. Your eyes are not deceiving you. You read that correctly. There is brine, and even a pickled bean garnish in this cocktail, and oh my did it work. This drink is among the best concoctions created, being simply something you must taste to believe. With all of the hydrating properties of this drink balancing out the alcohol we just don’t know how you could ever go wrong with this one.
If there is a right way to drink, The Sudra has decoded the method. Need more proof? It’s called Kashmir Sweater, my friends. When we dined here the ambiance was set by Portland’s successive showers. Something warm to drive out the chill was precisely what we needed after a long bike ride. This cocktail hit the spot. A pungent whisky mellowed brilliantly by mint syrup, chocolate bitters, and hot water, made for the pinnacle of tea-time refreshments.
To aid in driving out the cold we got our hands on the tamarind stew. The starches in this stew were cooked in a bright zing of flavor characteristic of tamarind. The bright flavor smoothly tapered off into a smokiness, which was really nice because no single flavor became overbearing or mundane. Lentils, carrots, yukon gold potatoes, spinach and red onion made for nothing short of a hearty dish. The cilantro-lemon sauce that topped it off added a new aspect of creaminess,rounding out the flavors and textures quite nicely.
The chickpea cutlet plate is a great example of a main dish served here. Falafel-like cutlets were crisped up and served with cilantro-lemon sauce and roasted red pepper-cashew chutney, which refined the flavor profile. Alongside it was brown rice, pickled anaheim chilis, kale in tahini dressing, and molasses root veggies which were so good they get talked about in their own section.
We took full advantage of the extensive ‘sides’ section of the menu. These small dishes are unique and stand alone, making them a perfect accompaniment to a happy hour cocktail. We got an extra side order of ginger molasses root veggies because they we’re that good. Caramelized starchy vegetables that were coated in sweet and spicy contrasting flavors. On one end the molasses, and on the other end the ginger. This combination was really a flavor mash-up made in heaven.
The jackfruit vindaloo was one side we knew we had to try from the start, and it met all of our expectations. The texture achieved from the pulled jackfruit was excellently dressed in a hot and earthy indian spice mix. All the components made for a superb vindaloo tenderness and taste.
Charred brussel sprouts with hazelnuts and lemon were a skeptical, but delicious mix that pleasantly surprised us. It was such a simple dish with a honed flavor we had not come across prior, but instantly fell in love with.
Working vegetables into dinner is expected, but working veggies into dessert is risky, to say the least. The Sudra managed this taboo seamlessly in their apple-carrot payasam. Apple and carrots simmered in coconut mylk and spices made up the warm, comforting base of this dessert. An oat and nut crumble was laid over top, adding a slight textural crunch to the dish. And yes we chose to top it off with vanilla ice cream, because warm dessert deserves to have something melt into it.
We enjoyed our dessert with poori which is one of the flatbreads on the menu. This was super fresh and had a touch of cinnamon to it. The best description we could think of is that it has a zeppole flavor without all the powdered sugar, thus it went beautifully with dessert.
Now that it’s all explained, you’ve got a glimpse of the eloquent way that The Sudra constitutes each dish with nutrient dense ingredients. We really have no complaints as everything was first and foremost delicious.