When husband-and-wife chefs Adam and Jackie Sappington decided to open their restaurant, The Country Cat, in April 2007, “Montavilla was like this sleepy little part of town that time forgot,” says Jackie.
“It had a main-street feel, a quaintness that really appealed to us.”
They refashioned an old drugstore with a soda fountain into a cozy and soulful dining room and bar, with high-backed booths, wood floors, chalkboard specials and midcentury-modern design touches.
It was the perfect setting for the made-from-scratch American heritage cuisine they serve at The Country Cat.
Diners rave about the restaurant’s skillet-fried chicken, the “whole hog” dish, giant biscuits and craft cocktails. Sides are made with local, fresh produce such as collard greens, Brussels sprouts, squash and wild mushrooms.
Adam, a top chef and butcher, has been nominated for a James Beard Award three times and demonstrates his meat mastery on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”
Jackie is a talented pastry chef who creates nostalgic dishes such as challah French toast in Maker’s Mark custard, cinnamon rolls, chocolate cake and pear crumble.
Montavilla’s main street, Stark, still has the nostalgic vibe the Sappingtons were drawn to 10 years ago, but the place is hopping with shops, restaurants, bars, a microbrewery, a farmer’s market and the remodeled Academy Theatre.
“To see the revitalization and how lively it is is so great,” she said. “You can hike up to Mount Tabor, then come down and shop, have a cocktail and eat a meal.”
The Sappingtons intended from the beginning to have a chef-driven restaurant that’s also family-oriented.
Kids under 10 eat dinner for free on Sundays.
“Heartlandia: Heritage Recipes from Portland’s The Country Cat,” is a collection of the Sappingtons’ creations. The book is available at the restaurant, at Powell’s and other booksellers.
Valentine’s Day at The Country Cat
* Taking reservations for parties of two or more
* Serving the classic menu, as well as holiday specials
7937 SE Stark St., Portland
Serves brunch every day from 9 am to 2 pm and dinner every night from 5 pm to closing.