This past month, our foodie squad from Spoon University Oregon ventured out into the entertainingly strange and exciting world of downtown Eugene, seeking out our next big meal. Little did we know that our inexperienced college taste buds were about to be changed forever, all because of a small, hidden away restaurant called “Party Downtown.”
Party Downtown has earned a reputation for having some of the most creative, yet comforting, seasonal dishes in Eugene. They are committed to using only ethically grown local produce and humanely raised animals, partnering with more than 24 local farms and companies (such as Turnip The Beet Farm, Lonesome Whistle Farm and Ninkasi Brewing) in order to achieve their goal. Party Downtown’s philosophy behind their cooking is, “It’s our duty to the future generations to be as sustainable and mindful as possible.” How awesome is this?
The amount of work and effort placed in raising and collecting each ingredient was truly apparent in each dish, as our taste buds soon discovered. Here were some of our favorites.
1. Gnocchi Tots
These little delights are anything but your ordinary tots, they are something on a whole new level. Fried potato dumplings served with house banana ketchup and white BBQ sauce; who even comes up with this? I found myself snagging a few additional pieces from my friend’s plate when they weren’t looking (#SorryNotSorry). That’s how good they were.
2. Son In Law Eggs
The Son In Law Eggs were next up on the menu, and wow, this dish is something that every future son-in-law should learn how to make. Think about it: A deep fried hard boiled egg with cilantro, quince caramel, and fried shallots. You just can’t go wrong with any of that!
3. Caprese Bruschetta
The Caprese Bruschetta tasted so fresh and delicious that it felt as though an Italian gardener set up their own personal garden on my taste buds, growing and harvesting only the freshest and ripest ingredients, before putting it on a warm, crispy baguette.
4. Smoked Beet Salad
I will be honest, when I first heard the mention of beets, I was a bit wary; the only time I hear beets really being mentioned is around Thanksgiving. The Smoked Beet Salad will remove any hint of skepticism or doubt the moment you take a bite. With a complex list of ingredients including blue cheese yogurt, sweet and sour squash, arugula, and shoestring beets, this dish further increased my awareness about the depths of flavor that dishes can reach.
5. Roasted Carrots
I’m sure we’ve all heard of roasted carrots before; you stick it in the oven to roast and they get nice and soft. However, you’ve never experienced something quite like the ones at Party Downtown. Their roasted carrots are served with a pumpkin seed butter and Thai basil. Pumpkin Seed Butter. PUMPKIN SEED BUTTER. Quite frankly, I’ve never heard of such a thing before, but after trying it, I would gladly take a five-gallon bucket of the stuff home with me.
6. Jamaican Jerk Spiced Sweet Potato
Remember how I was talking about the complexity of flavors and taste earlier? Well, this dish was the most intense flavorful experience I’ve ever had. Jamaican jerk spiced whey poached sweet potato with toasted coconut and coconut vinegar bitters: now you understand what I mean by flavor complexity. This dish was amazing, and although I might be pretending to understand what each ingredient is, I know that the end result was delicious.
7. Chicken Chorizo
At this point in the meal, we don’t know what’s next, and that’s not a concern. We know whatever it is, it’s going to be amazing. Dang, did Party Downtown deliver. Chicken chorizo with pickled vegetables, creme fraiche and spoon bread (similar to stuffing in appearance). If a dish has something in it called spoon bread, you know it’s already going to be awesome and delicious, and it was. After we ate all the chicken chorizo and vegetables, everyone at the table was scooping up as much of the remaining spoon bread as possible.
Party Downtown’s take on s’mores made everyone at the table wanting s’more (I’m so punny). A graham cracker bottom, ice cream middle and hard chocolate shell made this a perfect way to wrap up a perfect meal.
All in all, Party Downtown is the ideal place to bring your family and friends if you want to impress them with your Eugene restaurant prowess. Whether it’s because of the local preparation or the complex ingredient combinations that make up each dish, Party Downtown will make you want to come back for more.