A new tapas menu, weekend brunch, and innovative cocktails are keeping Can Font at the forefront of dining in the Pearl.
The tender pork collar arrives on a toothpick skewer over a mound of tangy-sweet orange marmalade. A satisfyingly crusty montadito (a miniature open-face sandwich)—topped with warm goat cheese, a balsamic red wine gel, and a velvety puree of kalamata olives— appears in a sizzling-hot cast-iron pan. These are just a couple of the exquisite little gems on the new tapas menu at Can Font (1015 NW Northrup St, 503-224-3911, canfontportland.com), the smart Catalonia-inspired restaurant that opened across from Tanner Springs Park two summers ago.
“We’re still a bit new—it’s taken time for people to get to know us,” says the restaurant’s owner, Vladimir Zaharchook, with characteristic modesty. In fact, Can Font has earned raves from dining critics and residents. But he and his talented team—including Executive Chef Luis Ochoa and Chef de Cuisine Juan Avila—have had to work hard to build a clientele. “Now we have a lot of regulars, both from the neighborhood and elsewhere around the city,” he says, noting that guests of the Pearl District’s three hotels routinely stop in for anything from a glass of 15-year-aged sherry to a leisurely repast.
Can Font offers an extensive selection of starters and main dishes, and although the culinary focus remains Catalonia, the kitchen has lately begun to include more dishes from throughout Spain, such as the Andalusian gazpacho offered during the summer months. The food is upscale if priced in line with other Portland restaurants of this caliber. And so the restaurant has begun developing a few new features to help attract a younger crowd, including the tapas menu, which is available only in the bar, at the counter overlooking the kitchen, and at the eight-seat communal chef’s table.
Since early spring, diners have also been able to stop in on Saturdays and Sundays for weekend brunch, which features such distinctive fare as tortillas de patatas (Spanish omelets) and torrejas con azafrán (French toast with strawberries, whipped cream, and a saffron syrup). And the restaurant has begun a collaboration with the new Botanist Bar PDX, whose talented mixologists have developed a half dozen creative cocktails available exclusively at Can Font. The Barceloneta—with tequila, Amontillado sherry, lime, triple sec, and agave—is a standout.
So even if you’d already been won over by the restaurant’s gorgeous, high-ceilinged dining room, the selection of authentic paellas, the brûléed cinnamon and lemon crema Catalana custard, and the exceptionally well-curated list of Spanish wines, team Can Font is determined to continue developing intriguing reasons to keep you coming back again and again.
– Andrew Collins // Photos by Michelle Mitchell