Home Production studio The multi-dimensional NORR kitchen has its origins in a production studio

The multi-dimensional NORR kitchen has its origins in a production studio

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Christiann Koepke/NORR Agency

Photographer and creative director Christiann Koepke has drawn inspiration from her experience working with clients in the food and beverage industry as well as her travels in Europe and distilled them into her new Central Eastside restaurant, NORR Kitchen, which takes its name from the Swedish word meaning “north”. .” The multi-dimensional concept is an offshoot of Koepke’s production studio, NORR Agency.

Tucked away in the industrial pocket between Lower East Burnside and I-84, the restaurant is off the beaten path, an intentional choice. There’s not even a sign on the door (IYKYK)—Koepke wanted to create a destination that felt like an escape from the city, and unlike anything else. While the restaurant’s decor incorporates many Scandinavian design elements — a photo of a Norwegian fjord taken by Koepke is prominently displayed on one wall and the cover of the menu — the food has Italian and Mediterranean coastal influences.

Diners can experience the restaurant in three ways, which follow the welcoming dining room block – you can sit at the bar for happy hour or a more casual experience, in the main dining room, which welcomes customers to Seating menu for dinner and tasting menu (currently available once or twice a month by reservation only), or the intimate Chef’s Counter, where you’ll have a front-row seat to Executive Chef Matt Hobbs and his team at work in addition to his tasting menu selections.

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Christiann Koepke/NORR Agency

A la carte dishes include comforting plates of handmade pasta, succulent meatballs made with a mix of beef and charcuterie toppings, mouth-watering bruschetta with duck prosciutto, and other Italian dishes. The six-course tasting menu is seasonally focused and draws more global influences than the regular menu. It alternates between “traditional”, vegetarian and plant-based options every two weeks or every month.

The craft cocktail program will rotate with the tasting menu, while maintaining a base of house liqueurs and infusions from bartender Thomas Radke. I sampled a Golden Graham infused bourbon with flambéed vegan marshmallows, to give you an indication of the magic happening behind the bar.

Chef Hobbs previously worked with Radke at Vitaly Paley’s pop-up restaurant Rosa Rosa. At NORR, the couple carry on the rapport they had established in their previous jobs, bouncing ideas between the kitchen and the bar and reusing ingredients to reduce waste.

In addition to on-site dining, NORR has diversified its service with an expanded list of offerings, including take-out and delivery, themed monthly meal kits, catering (available nationwide!) and private events. Koepke is also excited to enable the dining space for different partners and local businesses she works with through the agency, which includes brands like Coava and Freeland Spirits.

“There are so many different elements [to the restaurant group] because we come from production,” says Koepke. “In development, it’s ‘What’s the next thing? What’s the new thing? “, which I think you have to be these days. If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s to be flexible. Be innovative.

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Christiann Koepke/NORR Agency

Constant evolution has been a constant theme in Koepke’s career. She first discovered her passion for food in college when she hosted intimate European-style dinner parties with her friends, connecting not just through food, but over hours of conversation filled with laughter and tears. This talent for hospitality would later lead him to co-found the themed dinner series secret supperknown to pop up in unique places.

After moving to Portland in 2013, amid its emergence as one of the nation’s premier food cities, Koepke decided she wanted to get involved in the food industry. Starting out as a food blogger, she picked up a DSLR camera for the first time and quickly began amassing an impressive list of clients from Anthropologie to Williams-Sonoma and publications such as Enjoy your meal and SHE.

With the rise of foodie culture within social networks, the phenomenon of “camera eats first” came to prevalence, too. But for these sister companies, this adage carries special weight. Koepke founded NORR Agency in 2019, where in addition to full-service strategy, branding and marketing, she and her culinary team create, test and photograph cuisine for lifestyle brands. Their food and beverage production grew to such a volume that Koepke had an entire culinary department on her hands and found herself wanting to share their creations with the masses. She pitched the idea of ​​translating their production work into a model restaurant to Hobbs, who is also the agency’s Director of Culinary Operations, and NORR Kitchen was born.

“All of my work from day one has been completely digital, so having the doors open here now is such a beautiful thing,” Koepke said. “Now we actually have a doorway into what we do…before we were so far apart.”

NORR Kitchen, 920 NE Glisan St, (503) 941-0407, norrkitchen.com