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About The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current | View Entire Issue (Jan. 11, 2018)
14 // COASTWEEKEND.COM
Coast Weekend’s local
Best new restaurants of
2017: Harding Trading
Co., Avenue Q Pizza
Story and photos by
THE MOUTH OF THE COLUMBIA
here are two ways to make
coq au vin. At Harding
Trading Co. in Cannon
Beach, chef Nate Beckland pre-
fers the long way.
All told, it takes about three
First, the coq — in this case
chicken, which has become a cus-
tomary replacement for the tough-
er, namesake rooster — is marinat-
ed overnight in red wine and herbs.
On Day No. 2, after extensive
drying, the chicken is seared in
lardons, added to the simmering
base of the stew, and left again to
marinate overnight. On Day No. 3,
it’s ready to be finished.
Such drawn-out preparation set-
tles and deepens the rich, complex
flavors. Harding Trading Co.’s coq
au vin is multitudinous, enveloping
and transportive — the kind of
thing one might eat in a castle, be-
side a raging fire and sudsy court.
At first Beckland wondered
if he’d be able to keep such an
involved dish on the menu; it’s
a ton of extra work. But he, with
his wife, Kelly (the two met in
culinary school), and the rest of
the Harding crew, have devoted
themselves to the refined process-
es of traditional French cooking.
Practically everything at Hard-
ing — from the salad dressings
to the pastas to the desserts — is
scratch-made by a close-knit staff.
They do it all in the tightest of
quarters. And here, size mat-
ters. In the closet-sized kitchen,
storage is minimal. Stations must
Cardamom panna cotta with blueberry compote at Harding Trading Co.
Coq au vin with lemon-thyme spätzle at Harding Trading Co.
be popped up and packed away.
Tools are limited, and in some
cases sacrificed. All this adds up
to even more work.
Yet nothing I’ve had at Harding
has fallen short of exquisite. They
just nail everything: the precise,
paper-thin layers of the potato
gratin, the lightly crisped edge of
puffy, soft lemon-thyme spätzle,
the balance of cardamom in the
While the restaurant’s limited
footprint may not do the kitch-
en staff any favors, the intimate
dining room — its meticulously
curated aesthetic fitting of a French
farmhouse — is a warm, engaging
and humbly enchanted setting. Ev-
ery detail, from the interior design
to the flatware to the cooking pro-
cesses, is thoughtful and exacting.
Such careful, reverent culinary
craft, makes Harding Trading Co.
a Best New Restaurant of 2017.
And after a year that saw the
demise of three of the region’s
very best restaurants — Nanci
& Jimella’s Cafe & Cocktails,
Blackbird and the dinner service
at Street 14 Cafe— it’s heartening
to add a newcomer to that top tier.
But Best New Restaurant
recognition isn’t limited to fine
dining. The Mouth is an egalitar-
ian who knows that joy can be
found with a $5 bill.
Indeed, Seaside’s Avenue Q Piz-
za is in many ways the opposite of
Harding. It’s spartan and spacious;
design isn’t an afterthought — it’s
not at thought at all.
Avenue Q’s headspace is
consumed wholly by the pursuit
of the perfect pie. That starts with
the crust, and it’s the crust that
sets Avenue Q’s apart. The house-
made dough is slow fermented.
The process requires less yeast,
takes longer to rise and yields a
Capocollo pizza at Avenue Q Pizza
lighter, airer crust. On top, in very
thin layers, goes a basic tomato
sauce, cheese — dry and wet
mozzarella — and a topping or
two. That’s it.
This is pizza boiled down to
its essence. Simple, vivid and
And that’s all you’ll find at Av-
enue Q. Owner Matt Kaffer (aka
the “one-man pizzeria”) doesn’t
monkey with salads, calzones,
buffalo wings or anything else.
Just perfect, classic Italian-style
pizza, available by the slice, or a
whole pie. The minimalist ethic
extends to price. Avenue Q’s is a
terrific deal, just $4 for a quarter
of a pie.
Unlike many new restaurants
that try to be all things to all peo-
ple — especially those jostling for
tourist dollars — Avenue Q excels
with a singular, repetitive focus.
It’s pizza as meditation.
And like Harding Trading Co.,
Avenue Q arrives at nirvana by
forgoing the shortcuts. CW