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The Lapellah Restaurant located at Grand Central in Vancouver, Washington is a farm-to-table restaurant that is locally owned and operated. The word Lapellah comes from the “trade” language used in the 1800s and means “roasted” or “to roast over a fire”.

The first thing The Lady noticed when she entered the restaurant was the pleasant, aromatic smell of food cooking over a wood fire. The Lady and The Man were greeted by a two employees and immediately shown to a nice booth in the back of the restaurant near a wall of windows which made the area feel open and airy.

Their server, Heidi, appeared within moments and asked about drinks. The Man ordered a martini and  The Lady chose a glass of a red wine blend from Washington State’s Beresan Vineyard.

The Lady and The Man were there to celebrate the signing of contracts on the sale of The Man’s first book… woohoo… They don’t eat out much for several reasons; the most important one is that they discover too often that the quality of the food doesn’t justify the final tab on the check when presented… or as The Man likes to say, “The Lady cooks better than 99% of the chefs in the Portland-Vancouver area.” (I, too, love The Lady’s cooking but since there is some silly law banning guests of the feline persuasion eating in restaurants, I have no comparison…silly humankind laws… I’ll put my clean and well-groomed body up against any humankind, any day of the week… humankinds bathe daily, hopefully… this Feline Foodie bathes several times a day… you do the math…) But I digress.

Their visit to Lapellah was for lunch and when The Lady opened the menu she felt that perhaps they had found a winner. The menu had several appetizers and entrees that included specialty cheeses. For example, the lunch special that day was grilled Coho salmon with caramelized onion, tomato, arugula and Manchego cheese on a house made bun ($12.95). The Lady had not seen Manchego on a menu since becoming a cheesemonger. She was thrilled.

Heidi was quite pleasant and accommodating when The Lady began asking specific questions about the various cheeses on the menu, making numerous trips to the kitchen to ask the chef questions about the cheesemakers.

The menu has a section in the middle titled “Homage to our Farmers” and is a list of the local farmers whose foods they use: Gus & Company Farm (Ridgefield); Polar Farm (Woodland); Dancing Chicken Farm (La Center); Carlton Farm (Carlton); King Fisher Farm (Nehalem); Peak Forest Fruit (Banks) and Flamingo Ridge (Gaston). The Lady was impressed; The Man, not so much… he likes to keep his options open when it comes to food…

The Lady and The Man decided to order several dishes and share the bounty.

They started with “The Wedge” ($5.95): Iceberg lettuce, green onions with a dressing of Gorgonzola Cheese from the Wisconsin Amish of Salemville. The Lady visited their plant on her recent Wisconsin Tour. The Lady and The Man agreed that the dressing was divine. Wedge salads are always a favorite of The Man. According to The Lady, he swooned…

The Lady ordered Corn Fried Oysters ($7.95) with red pepper remoulade and pronounced them tasty and perfectly prepared. Although The Man is becoming more adventurous in eating, he has a ways to go before oysters reach his lips… oh well, more for The Lady.

For their entrees they both ordered sandwiches:

The Man ordered the Lapellah Hamburger ($10.50 plus $1.50 for cheese added)made from house-ground Carlton Farms Oregon beef with lettuce, mayo, pickles and onion served on an old fashioned bun. The Man also had a slice of Tillamook Cheddar added to the top of the burger. Although The Man has never met a burger he didn’t like, he was especially taken with this one and ate the whole thing except for a morsel he shared with The Lady.

The Lady ordered a Grilled Chicken and Brie Sandwich ($10.95) served with arugula and tomato. The Brie was French Miramont and mild and paired well with the Dancing Chicken Farm grilled breast.

Other “cheesy” items on the menu included a mac n cheese dish using Tillamook ($9.95), another local co-op cheesemaker from the Oregon Coast; a grilled veggie wrap ($9.95) with herbed goat cheese from Mary Keehn’s Cypress Grove Chevre. The dinner menu also used Mary’s goat cheese in a grits dish that was paired with pork chops. I suspect The Lady will order the grits on her next visit.

In addition to great food and excellent service (one of the wait staff asked if he could take a plate while The Man was away from the table. When The Lady said The Man was still eating, the young man pleasantly said, “No hurry, we’re open until 11pm tonight.”), the décor was open, airy and bright. The partition between the two rows of booths included pieces of Depression Glass glued to glass. The Lady loved that as she has owned many different patterns of the glass over her lifetime – another winner for her!!

Most appetizers are under $10.00; on the lunch menu the most expensive entrée/salad/sandwich is $14.95 and on the dinner menu most of the entrees are in the $20-25 range with the ribeye topping out at $28.95. The desserts are all $5.50 and $6.50. Wine by the glass is in the $7-10 range and offers quite a nice selection.

The Lady pronounced Lapellah a 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (even though she has none…) restaurant.

In addition to Lapellah, the owners have two other local farm-to-table restaurants: 360 Pizzeria and Roots Restaurant and Bar. (The Roots menu includes an Artisan Cheese Plate for an appetizer and several dishes that incorporate various cheeses.)

Lapellah is located at Grand Central, 2520 Columbia House Blvd., Suite 108, Vancouver, Washington 98661. Phone: 360 828 7911