The Hairy Lobster Hits Portland: Restaurant Review

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Today’s post is written by food blogger and long-time friend, Lisa Kurvits, as a favor to this blogger who was unable to make it to the press preview of The Hairy Lobster due to unforeseen illness (stomach flu — egads!). I am so grateful to both Lisa for taking on the task and to David and Melissa Root, owners of the Hairy Lobster, for allowing Lisa to take my place. What follows is some background from me, followed by Lisa’s account of her dining experience at The Hairy Lobster’s gratis dinner. All opinions are her own and remain uninfluenced.

By Lisa Kurvits, Groovy Foody contributor

Okay, so the first, most obvious question is, “What the hell is a hairy lobster?” Secondly, and maybe even more importantly, “Do I really care? and “Do I really want to know?” I confess, the truth is — I wasn’t really that interested. (*But if you are scroll to the end of this piece to see what Vanessa found out!)

Should I be more inquisitive? The blasé east coaster in me says, not so much. Why? Because what I’m really more interested in is the food — quirky name be damned. I wanted to know: Does The Hairy Lobster live up to its hype?

So I did what I do best — I tasted.

Who is The Hairy Lobster?

If The Hairy Lobster is anyone, it’s the newly birthed, old soul lovechild of Chef/Restaurant Fixer and twice named James Beard Award nominee, David Root (formerly of Lutece and Todd English’s bluezoo) and his Pastry Chef/Culinary Star wife, Melissa Root (of Thomas Keller’s Per Se, and the Michelin starred, Madera). The Roots are shooting to kick things up a notch in the artisan cooking realm among Portland’s top chefs, with what they’re calling “a shared plate Heritage restaurant.”  

What is a Heritage Restaurant?

It means plenty of history will be served up on those carefully curated small plates of snout-to-tail butchered heritage meats, heirloom vegetables and other farm-to-table ingredients made from 1800s inspired comfort recipes, all executed with a modern flair that’s meant to be shared.

“What that [heritage] means, as far as the food side, is we’re utilizing farms producing rare breeds of animals and produce—breeds that are close to being lost,” David said in a recent Eater PDX article.

Hairy Lobster: Genius or over-the-top?

With an ingredient list boasting lobster, BBQ pork, pickled sun choke, chili spiced aioli, fried manchego, winter tomato salad, sherry vinaigrette, BBQ duck, pork belly, coconut green curry, and spicy cucumber salad, our dinner shouted, “I have everything!”

But I wondered if what I would be saying at meal’s end would be, “It’s too much!” Everything in me said it shouldn’t work — it’s over the top. Superfluous. (Hey! Look at me using fancy words.) What are they thinking putting together all those wacky ingredients?! Trying too hard. All of these thoughts went through my mind but then — I tasted.

And you know what? It all works beautifully — in fact, it’s downright masterfully delicious.


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Passion & creativity: The Hairy Lobster makes its mark

The restaurant is lovely. Warm. Inviting. Homey. Multiple fireplaces. Clean lines. Lots of rustic touches. You’ll go for dinner and want to stay there for the night, hoping that no one asks you to leave.

The Hairy Lobster (I just like writing Hairy Lobster. It somehow feels kind of naughty. Though I’m not sure that’s the vibe the owners are after) is helmed by David and Melissa Root,  two wildly creative individuals with major culinary chops (see: “Who is the Harry Lobster” above), David was a chef at Lutece and Melissa is pastry royalty (again, see above) as well as a multiple medalist at the World Culinary Olympics. Trust me, we’re SO very lucky that they’ve landed here in PDX and decided to open this space.

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The Food

The menu at The Hairy Lobster is divided into sections: Water, Garden, Barn, Wheat n’ Cheese — and of course, Drinks.

My dining companion and I enjoyed an incredible, innovative meal on a rainy Thursday night. The Lobster Cubano, was fresh, delicate,  and vibrant. The Manchego Schnitzel (there’s really nothing better than fried cheese, is there? Okay, but this is so much more than just fried cheese!) is a sheep’s milk cheese from Spain’s La Mancha region has been breaded or “schnitzeled” and deep fried — Gah!

The juicy BBQ Duck was cooked perfectly and served with a zippy coconut green curry, that added just a kick of spice and a cucumber salad with chunks of lightly crisped pork belly for added flavor and a luxurious mouthfeel. But as good as all that was (and trust me, it’s delish!) let’s talk Jalapeño Beignet Cheesy Cream — because these were a revelation. Imagine a lightly fried, savory beignet filled with jalapeño cream cheese and served warm. Are you with me? As a rule, my dining companion takes his time when he eats. In the case of the Jalapeño Beignet Cheesy Cream, I blinked and his portion was gone. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Do I need to say more?

Now onto dessert (you remember I mentioned that Melissa is pastry royalty, right?) I ordered the Sticky Toffee Pudding which was all kinds of sticky-caramelly-pecan-nutty-dotted goodness. The vanilla bean ice cream was a creamy bonus. My aforementioned dining companion chose the Dark Chocolate Custard: devil’s food cake, salted caramel, a homemade mango sorbet and a coconib croquant (I have absolutely no idea what a croquant is, but I do know it was good!). Dinner was fabulous. Dessert — sublime.


The Drinks

What about the drinks? If you know anything about me, you know I enjoy a good stiff one (– drink, that is). Their House Cocktails are thought provoking and intriguing. I went with the Osbourne, which involved Scotch, Campari, and Punt E Mes (an Italian vermouth) — really delicious. Oh, and we might also have had a glass of wine, something along the lines of  a 2013 Oregon Territory Umpqua Valley Pinot Noir (a really solid and well-priced glass of wine).

At one point in our evening, we had the wonderful opportunity of meeting our chef, David (the man with the major culinary chops) and I can say that I would have liked to have hung out with him even longer. It’s so fabulous to be in the company of someone as passionate and excited about the food as David (and his entire staff) obviously is. Everyone at The Hairy Lobster appears to genuinely care about providing the very best of everything from food to service.


The Verdict: Go to The Hairy Lobster. Now. You’ll thank me.



Vanessa’s tidbit:

What’s a Hairy Lobster?

According Wikipedia:


Hairy lobster is an imprecise term which could refer to either of the two taxa:

Tuscan Two-Day Christmas Soup



During the winter months, as life gets busier with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and I am wont to run around with my family spontaneously looking at holiday lights but still needing desperately to meet deadlines, I find something has to be trimmed down in the ol’ sche-duly. The only place left to make cuts in such a tightly packed schedule seems to be in the making and eating of food. But since we are not a fast food family and we really hate boring food (my boys are foodies too!) I turn to other kinds of easy to please meals. One of which is soup, like this Tuscan Two-Day Christmas soup. (more…)

300 Sandwiches — Misogyny, Love, Kink or Pure Publicity?

300 sandwichesToday my Facebook feed has been crammed with people chattering about and linking to The New York Post’s outing of one of their own, as the blogger behind the controversial The blogger is freelance stringer, Stephanie Smith, about whom the internet is all abuzz trying to decide how to categorize her and her so-called 1950’s approach to hooking a man (“the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”)

Is she a maligned beauty desperate to prove her worth through the art of cooking, er, uh, well sandwich making (can we really call it cooking?) to a man dangling the prospect of marriage? Or is she just a playful partner attempting to match her man’s sarcastic pokes by taking it to new hilarious heights in a very public forum? (more…)

GrooVy Movie Reviews: The Trip and The Ramen Girl

Portlandia (TV series)

Image via Wikipedia

For those of you fairly new to this blog, you may not know, that I work as a full-time freelance writer, outside of this little cooking blog. As such, I am often called upon to review restaurants, books or movies.

Because of this, when I started GF over a year ago, I decided it would be EVERYTHING Foodie (from the rootie to the tutti — see the tagline above) and that means I will, from time to time post the occasional foodie movie or foodie book review. (These are also being compiled in the static pages on the site titled GrooVy Books and GrooVy Movies in the navigation.) Maybe, one day, maybe, GF will house the most comprehensive lists of both online. (more…)

Making the Paleo Diet Easier with Paleo People Gluten-Free Granola

As part of the Build a Better Me Healthy Blogging Challenge, I have been trying my best to cut down on carbs in my diet (including baked goods and chocolate– though I have to admit, I haven’t been doing so well on the chocolate front!)

Carbs and Gluten

Besides cutting down on carbs, I’m also exploring the world of gluten-free food. While I do not have Celiac Disease (as many who go gluten-free do) I do feel like I might have a mild intolerance to wheat flour. This is an important distinction because those who are dealing Celiac have an autoimmune disease, not a food allergy, sensitivity or intolerance.

Fresh Veggies and. . .Chocolate?

We already eat plenty of fresh organic veggies in our household and pretty strictly use whole foods ingredients, but when it comes to sweets — I have a serious problem.  That’s why this new low carb, gluten-free lifestyle has been hard for me.

I have absolutely no problem tucking into a big salad — some homemade soup like curried carrot apple ginger, broccoli mint or butternut squash or eating broiled salmon topped with sautéed zucchini, tomato and mushroom and served with quinoa couscous and a large helping of wilted kale salad or roasted broccoli. This IS food I love.

But afterward, I crave something sweet and preferably chocolatey. Let me be clear here– I know chocolate is chock full of great stuff for you and packed with amazing health benefits but NOT when it comes loaded with sugar. So, I’d been making do with homemade hot chocolate, using Dutch cocoa, unsweetened soy, almond or coconut milk and a drizzle of honey.

But I was dying for snack– one besides a handful of almonds and a clementine. Something with a bite or chew or a crunch but something that felt distinctly naughty but most especially– chocolate-y.

Then Paleo People Granola showed up at my door — four bags of it, to be precise.

The Wait is Over

First, I should say, I’m NOT a granola person (no matter how many veggies I eat.) I like bacon and butter and chocolate– real chocolate — not those lame carob chips they stick into granola. Most granolas annoy me– they’re either too sugary sweet or they taste like cardboard. I enjoy a handful of trail mix from time to time– but it has to be the good stuff (no peanuts or raisins.) I prefer trail mixes with cashews, almonds, cranberries, cherries and of course, chocolate. But granola — Ugh! No way!

But then, the Paleo People offered to sponsor the VP bloggers in our efforts by sending us some granola. At first, I begged off, saying “Sorry, I’m going gluten-free,” but then Theresa at Food Hunter’s Guide said, “Perfect– it’s gluten-free.”

“Hmph” — no more excuse– I was in.

When I opened the box from Paleo People I was greeted with four 5 oz bags of granola. It arrived at 3pm — right between lunch and dinner. I was dying for a snack.

What flavors did they send? The requisite apple something, something with bananas (I hate those crusty banana chips!)– cappuccino (hmmm, interesting) What? Wait? What?! Cacao Nut — Cacao means chocolate. I tore into the bag — something was better than nothing. I popped a piece in my mouth, waiting for the cringe factor but then . . . bliss.

It was crunchy but not too crunchy, chewy but not raisin-y sweet and there was plenty of sweet and chocolate but not in a heavy corn syrupy way. This was awesome. This was the most awesome granola I’d ever tasted.

About this time the hubby barged in wanting to know what I gotten.

“Granola,” I answered between bites.

“Oh,” he said and turned to walk back out of the kitchen.

“No wait, it’s good. Come here, try the apple or the banana one.”

No way was he getting my chocolate.

I tore open the Cappuccino Crunch, while he eased open the Apple Crisp. The cappuccino was okay but it was no chocolate — maybe I’d gotten the only yummy bag in the bunch — but then, he smiled.

“Man, this stuff is good.”

“It is?!”

“Yeah, try some,” he held the bag out for me.

“Ok, but that will be your bag because you’re not getting any of my chocolate . . . Well, you can have a taste.”

The Apple Crisp was great for apple — I mean, the only apple I usually like is one from a tree– not in pies or cobblers and especially not in granola– but I liked this and he LOVED it.

We both adored the Banana Nut Crunch — just yummy banana flavor — none of the crusty enamel breaking, hard chips of banana.

Neither of us liked the Cappuccino but that’s probably because it tasted like Folgers to us and NOT cappuccino. But if you’re the kind of person who likes Americanos, I bet you’ll love this one.

The hubs was in love with the apple and I could not bear to part with my chocolate (though we both did attempt sharing with our son — who favored the banana.) All was right with the world.

Anyway, Paleo People saved me — just when I needed a fix, they swooped in with their delish granola treats and made it all better. I could do this low carb, gluten-free thing (at least until the granola gave out!)

(Psst! Paleo People, if you’re listening: Send MORE granola!!)

Paleo People Giveaway

If you’re going gluten-free or are one of the many people taking part in a Paleo Diet — you’ll LOVE Paleo People but even if you’re completely unfettered by issues with carbs or gluten, I think you’ll find Paleo People Granola to be a nutritious and healthful way to snack.

Paleo People Granola is filled with “the good stuff” like:

Nuts: almonds, brazil nuts, pecans and walnuts

Fruit: raisins, apples, bananas

Seeds: flax, sunflower and pumpkin

Other good tasting, good-for-you goodies: coconut oil, cacao nibs, honey, coconut and spices.

*Wanna WIN a four pack of Paleo People for yourself? Just comment below for your chance to win.*

Winner will be chosen at random.

*Wanna increase your chances of winning? Visit the Paleo People Host Page at Food Hunters Guide to Cuisine and find out how to enter to win on all participating Virtual Potluck Blogs.*

This product was sent free for review but as always, the opinions are my own.

WINNER: Marnely Rodriguez-Murray is the winner of the Paleo People giveaway entering for her best friend, who is pregnant! Congratulations Marnely and ultimately, Joella!

Beer-y Good Hot Wings: Virtual Potluck Tailgate Party with Victory IPA

We love Buffalo wings at my house. When my hubby and I were dating we enjoyed noshing on these spicy wings often. Since then I have learned to make them at home, including some deliciously insane variations like my take on Portland restaurant Pok Pok’s Thai wings (I’ll post this soon!) and the boneless Buffalo hot wing, as well as experimented with other bloggers yummy hot wing dishes like Can You Stay for Dinner’s Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls(these are insanely good!)

BJs makes a great hot wing plate

So when Lewis Bear Distributing approached us to share three of the beers on their roster for a SuperBowl tailgate recipe party my first thought was– Hot Wings!

Now, I’ve seen loads of recipes for beer battered and beer marinated chicken around here on the “internets,” but none seem to pair the beer marinated chicken with Buffalo sauce. I wondered why– seems like such a natural fit to me. Which is why I decided to do it. And the results were not disappointing!

Photo courtesy of Donna Currie of Cookistry

Some of you may be thinking– where did your Build a Better Me ideals go? How can you go from A Tasty and Healthy New Year to deep fried butter n’ beer basted hot wings?

Two words: Myth and Moderation


Yes, frying in oil can be bad for your health but the type of frying we’re talking about here is either shallow frying or frying at the wrong temperature– both of which cause the food to soak up that excess oil, and help to clog your arteries. The kind of frying we’re going to do, done at higher temperatures in a deep fat fryer, happens so quickly that the oil creates a crust, locking in the moisture and creating a seal that keeps the oil from soaking into your food.

You can also use healthful oils like coconut (though in this recipe I’d don’t recommend it because of its unique flavor and the fact that you want the Beer-y goodness to come through.)

From Wikipedia:

If performed properly, deep-frying does not make food excessively greasy, because the moisture in the food repels the oil. The hot oil heats the water within the food, steaming it from the inside out; oil cannot go against the direction of this powerful flow because (due to its high temperature) the water vapor pushes the bubbles toward the surface. As long as the oil is hot enough and the food is not immersed in the oil for too long, oil penetration will be confined to the outer surface. However, if the food is cooked in the oil for too long, much of the water will be lost and the oil will begin to penetrate the food. The correct frying temperature depends on the thickness and type of food, but in most cases it lies between 175 and 190 °C (345–375 °F).”


Julia Child once said, “Everything in moderation– even moderation.” This woman really knew how to suck the marrow out of life– quite literally. 😉

I like to follow that advice and occasionally throw caution to the wind and have a good hot wing, a gooey hot fudge sundae or a few cocktails.

Though, we’ve already established that deep fat frying is not necessarily bad for you and its generally accepted these days that butter is preferred to trans fats, a whole stick of butter is a little excessive, but NOT if you’re looking for flavor and heat that stays through to the bone. So don’t make these all the time. But make them.


These came out amazing and using the Headwaters Pale Ale by VictoryBrewing, gave them a juicy hoppy goodness that did not overpower the Frank’s Red Hot but rather complimented its heat and flavor. They were Beer-y good!


  • 2 1/2 Lbs of Fresh Chicken Wings
  • 1  24 oz bottle of Peanut Oil
  • 1/2 cup or 1  stick butter
  • 1 1/2 Cup of Franks Original Red Hot (nothing else is as good and nothing artificial!)
  • 1 bottle of Victory IPA
  • 1 plastic or paper bag of unseasoned flour


Using poultry scissors, separate the wings at the joints, discarding the wing end nub.

Marinate the wings in the beer for 2 hours to overnight depending on the depth of beer-y flavor you want.

Preheat oil (use a deep fat fryer and making sure your temperature is right before submerging your wings.

Put the some of the wings in the bag of flour (if using paper, double bag to avoid breakage)

Shake the bag to coat all the wings evenly with flour. Do this in small batches so as to not overload your pan and decrease the temp of your oil.

Once the is hot, place that small amount of wings in the fryer (your fryer should be comfortably full with no wings piled on top of each other — be careful not to overload.)

Fry until they are golden brown

Remove the wings from the fryer and lay them on a cooling rack with paper towels underneath to catch any excess oil that drips off.

Melt the stick butter in a saucepan on medium heat and add the Frank’s Red Hot, whisking to ensure it’s properly mixed and not separating.

Serve the wings tossed or drizzled in the sauce or for those who want a little less heat, serve sauce on the side .

Accompany with ranch or bleu cheese dressing, celery, cucumber and carrots to cool the mouth and an ice-cold beer.

Makes 32 wings

If you like hot wings as much as I do– you might want to check out this Tumblr site called Fuck yeah, hot wings!

For a chance to win some Beer-y tasty swag from Lewis Bear visit the host page at 30AEATS.

The beer was provided for the express purpose of this recipe by Lewis Beer Distributors.The photos are not of my actual hot wings (they looked amazing!) due to a camera malfunction — I hope to get my baby back from the shop today.