Forget payback, construction is a bitch.
You've no doubt been bummed out by orange barreled inconveniences too, but I recently asked the long-suffering folks from the nifty Park Creek Kitchen how their summer went and was told PCK's ripped-up patio, nearby chewed-up streets and demolished sidewalk had led to business lately being down about 50 percent. Ouch.
That's why a couple of weeks ago I was glad when I noticed the trifecta of PCK's reopened patio, mostly completed street work and its alluring Monday night burger special had drawn a buzzworthy and sizable crowd. I suppose you can consider the following well-deserved positive review to be a public service announcement for a good and hard-working restaurant that's navigated through a rather difficult season.
What's not been difficult is eating PCK's food. Forced to pick between the two terrific hamburgers a pal and I buzzsawed through that Monday, I'd have to answer: I'm gonna need more evidence. Like, a lot more.
On the one hand, there's the deep, dark and earthy flavors of the Northwest Burger (funky taleggio cheese, caramelized onions and sauteed mushrooms); on the other hand, there's the salty tang of the House Burger (bacon, blue cheese, and a killer battered and fried pickle). On - and in - both hands were hand-formed, crust-seared half-pounder patties, toasted buns, pretty impressive sides (either addictive, blocky, crackly yet ungreasy root vegetable fries or a nice, bright, blue cheese and balsamic vinaigrette-enhanced Simple Salad) and that Monday night bargain price of $8 (regular tabs: $11-12).
From less beefy parts of the menu, the Mussel Soup ($7) was refreshing if a bit unusual. Basically a bowl of salsa-verde-tasting gazpacho, its garnishes of tender shellfish were a tad overwhelmed by the pulpy and tart cold broth.
Seafood clearly commanded center stage in the dramatic and delightful Blacken Tuna, though ($24). One of my new favorite fish dishes, this starred two huge wedges of salty, herb-rubbed and seared sushi-grade tuna that literally cut like butter. Nearly equally terrific were side players of homemade ravioli stuffed with morel mushroom powder and goat cheese. Sauteed until pleasantly crispy and topped with a buttery tumble of Ohio soybean and corn succotash, that shroomy-tasting pasta was such a powerful co-star I believe it deserves its own billing on the menu as an appetizer or small plate.
Another blockbuster was the Buttermilk Fried Chicken ($17). An extra crispy and not-too-greasy crust led to remarkably tender, juicy and partially deboned meat underneath. The presentation also offered a rich and refined shelled-pasta version of mac and cheese plus homey green beans with a vinegary splash. As for platewide drizzles of "peppercorn honey" - personally I'd like some tongue-tingling botanical heat to balance that out.
While I finished every last crumb of that scratch-made chicken dish, I noticed Cee Lo Green's "Forget You" was playing over the house sound system. Relaxing in my padded PCK chair, I ordered a slice of nice homemade pie, gazed out at the remnants of the necessary but disruptively gravel-busting construction site and, ruminating on the looming end of a long, hot and hard summer, cheerfully mumbled along with ol' Cee Lo.