Tim and Melissa McCusker recently made some changes to their chic yet cozy downtown Camas spot Feast 316. They redecorated the front room and revamped the menu to feature shareables like their newer restaurant, The Sedgwick in downtown Vancouver.
I visited on a Wednesday night. A few other groups filled the front room, and three people dined at the bar. The wood tables and blue upholstered chairs along with the large black-and-white photos depicting Camas history reminded me of The Sedgwick. General Manager Rachel Robisheaux kindly showed us to a table for two, a preview of the attentive and seamless service throughout our visit. Various shapes of Edison bulbs bobbed from the ceiling. Combined with soft flickering lights on the table, they bathed the elegant but relaxed space in a warm glow.
The menu’s shift to a more communal dining experience encourages interaction and conversation, a nice nudge during a time when dining rooms are often filled with patrons staring at their phones. The menu includes a variety of steak cuts — from Tomahawk (30 ounces for $105) to hanger (12 ounces for $35) — to fit every occasion and budget. Generously portioned sides include Tuscan hummus ($15), little gem salad ($12.50) and mushroom risotto ($18).
My guest and I ordered the miso barbecue shrimp ($30), red pepper casarecce ($18), and a special apple and arugula salad with burrata ($18.50). The shrimp perched upon a pool of rich miso broth dabbled with fresh sprigs of thyme and tender bits of leeks, tomatoes and romanesco cauliflower. The pork belly hush puppies were creamy on the inside but crisp on the outside.
Portland-based Classic Foods makes casarecce for Feast 316, where the thick twigs of tender pasta come bathed in a white truffle and Gruyere cream sauce dotted with sweet drop peppers. Strands of peppery arugula crown the dish.
The apple and arugula salad presented a treasure hunt of flavor and texture. A billowy round of burrata sat on a bed of julienned Granny Smith apples, bits of arugula, candy cane beets, and hearts of palm doused with an aged balsamic reduction. Fried baby bok choy leaves and crispy jicama chips garnished the salad. Several coins of potato-flake-battered fried eggplant sat on the side.
As we made our way through these starters, I sipped a del sol negroni ($14), a cocktail of reposado tequila, Cascadia bitter liqueur and Feast’s own pomelocello in a chilled rocks glass with a large ice cube and a swirl of orange peel. Pomelocello is made in-house like the more familiar limoncello but using pomelos (a Southeast Asian ancestor of the grapefruit). The herbaceousness and bitterness (from the Pacific Northwest botanicals in the liqueur) combined with bright citrus created a refreshing cocktail.
After we finished our starters, the 34-ounce porterhouse ($95) and 12-ounce hanger steak ($39) arrived. The hanger comes atop a bed of silky champs with a side of avocado chimichurri. The champs are an Irish mashed potato recipe from chef Tim McCusker’s childhood elevated with triple-cream Cambozola and horseradish.
The porterhouse, an impressive oblong wedge of meat, came with the same accompaniments but arrived on a sizzling iron pan. According to Melissa McCusker, Feast 316’s porterhouse comes from Pacific Northwest-based ranches Snake River Farms, Double R Ranch, St. Helens Beef and Rancho El Oro. The steaks are custom butchered into 2-inch porterhouse cuts for Feast 316. Both steaks were prepared as ordered — medium rare — and coated with a pleasant char.
For dessert, we tried the pot de créme, a dome of velvety chocolate custard topped with cherry coulis, whipped cream and a wedge of honeycomb crust. This dessert is typically served in a ramekin, but Feast’s free-form version allows the spoon to reach every last morsel of the rich dessert.
Feast 316 recently reinstated a happy hour menu from 3 to 5 p.m. weekdays with some old favorites like coconut shrimp a la Sergio with mango seven pepper chutney ($8) and meatballs in a panko crust with a fennel leek mushroom ragu ($7), as well as classic cocktails like a margarita ($10) and a rotating Moscow mule ($10).
Anyone who has dined at Feast 316 or The Sedgwick knows that chef McCusker enjoys layering bold flavors sometimes in unlikely combinations. Every dish presented a universe of flavors, textures, scents and occasionally sounds, like the sizzling porterhouse on an iron skillet. My recent visit was a pleasant reminder of what an experienced and talented chef with a strong support team can do when allowed to experiment and grow.
Rachel Pinsky: firstname.lastname@example.org