Chef Jose Chesa debuted Ataula in Northwest Portland this month. The Barcelona native honed his craft at Michelin-starred restaurants in France and Spain before coming to Portland in 2012. Ataula is in the space formerly occupied by Patanegra, so it has a Spanish heritage.
The casual restaurant/bar is perfect for grabbing a drink and small plates after work or late night, or setting in for a great paella for dinner.
Five of us went to give it a try and we ate our way through half of the menu. You can call for reservations for six or more, but if you arrive before 7 pm its likely you can find a table or cozy up to the bar.
We started with drinks. I had the sangria, which has vanilla and pumpkin spice notes. Beer comes in both pints an the small canita size. One friend had the tequila - elderberry - cava cocktail she enjoyed. I switched to the regular tinto wine and it suited the food well.
The food is divided into tapas (small plates), per picar (smaller bites), and the paellas and rossejats (which serve two or more). While there are some modernist cooking techniques at work, they played well with traditional techniques. We didn't need an instruction manual on how to eat anything.
Among our group we had:
Pa amb Tomaquet: bread with shredded tomato and olive oil.
Croqueta: salt-cod fritters with smoked piquillo aioli
Bernjena: Eggplant fries dusted with moroccan spice and a romesco sauce.
La Rusa Ensalada: Potato and egg salad with delicious chunks of dungeness crab. Well worth a return visit!
Gazpacho: Served in a glass with ricotta granite on top, to stir in and drink.
Pepito de Ternera: A veal breast burger on brioche with vegetable chips.
Bikini Sandwich: a serrano ham and cheese with quince paste and truffle butter. I enjoyed having it with the gazpacho, a lovely comfort food combo.
Canelones: chicken and ham powder in a pasta shell with rostit sauce.
Fideua Rossejat: toasted vermicelli noodles wich chicken, chorizo, pimenton and garlic
Paella Ataula: their signature paella with rice, prawns, mussles, calamari, clams, saffron picada lobster fumet.
Ice Cream: a three-scoop assortment with basil-lime, caramel, and brown sugar ice cream.
We sincerely enjoyed all of the food and I would stop in anytime I was in NW Portland for a bite and a drink.