Nationally renowned chef Edouardo Jordan doesn’t consider Lucinda Grain Bar his third Ravenna restaurant; he says when the casual, heirloom grain-focused establishment opens December 8, next to his spectacular Southern restaurant, Junebaby, it will be his first bar. It’s also a daytime cafe, another first for the two-time James Beard Award-winning chef and restaurateur. “It’s a bar first that serves good food with a cafe kind of feel,” Jordan says.
Jordan hasn’t settled on a bar manager yet, but his highly capable director of operations, Elmer Dulla, is devising the first drink menu. Jordan promises simplicity: straight pours of special single-barrel whiskeys neat or on the rocks and classic cocktails like Manhattans and Negronis, maybe with a modification or two. “We’re not trying to compete with Canon to become the best new bar in the world with foams and smokes.” But he’s also interested in experimentation and education, which could mean vodka infused with toasted rye, limited-edition beers featuring local grains, and educational flights showcasing corn, rice, and millet in various spirits.
It’ll all pair with grain and rice bowls, pastas, sandwiches, breads, and other dishes centered around the ancient grains that consistently show up on the menus at Junebaby and Salare. “I realized if we’re going to focus on pastries, let’s focus on more unique grains, cereals, and legumes, that make up our diet and what we use in other restaurants,” Jordan says. “Focus on these in one place. Bring them to life.”
Jordan’s obsession with unusual grains, from einkorn to freekeh, is inspired by organizations like Washington State University’s Bread Lab, whose team includes Eater Young Gun Niels Brisbane as culinary director of the lab’s Canlis Research Kitchen. The lab is breeding and developing a variety of foods to build a better, more sustainable Northwest foodshed. When people think of Northwest cuisine, they “think of salmon, wild mushrooms, fresh produce, but we forget we’re essentially a wheat belt here too,” Jordan says.
The menu at Lucinda is also an extension of the highly personal and educational Southern cuisine Jordan serves at Junebaby and, to an extent, Salare. Featuring more and more specialty ingredients, even if it’s just five pounds of a test product, allows him to have fun but also to educate his customers and his team on products that were once commonplace and have been all but replaced with refined, mass-produced wheats and barleys. With the Bread Lab, he’s learning to ferment his own grains, make his own koji, and expand the boundaries of flavor. And the use of items like quinoa and millet means plenty of gluten-free options, too.
Lucinda, named for Jordan’s sister, will be “more intimate” than his other two places, “with a European dynamic, built almost like a speakeasy.” The business’s active Instagram feed provides hints of the old-timey feel Jordan is aiming for with elaborate wallpaper and frames, romantic lighting and candles, and leather-bound menus.
The space was always bound to be a little cozy: Jordan initially conceived it as a commissary kitchen for his pastry chef, Margaryta Karagodina. Eventually, they realized they’d have enough extra room up front to use as a waiting room for Jordan’s Southern restaurant Junebaby next door and eclectic Salare down the street. The pair of nationally renowned juggernauts are always busy, but they’re in a relatively quiet residential area.
“Think about coming in and having a whiskey and a good snack. Start here [then] get Junebaby or Salare, or come back and have a nightcap [after],” Jordan says. “I want to put Ravenna on the map and keep people in the neighborhood.”
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