Location: SE 52nd and Foster (at Carts on Foster)
Hours: Wed-Sun, 11am – 6pm
The Story: The The Last Word reminds me of Ernest Hemingway’s writing. I’m a Hemingway fan by the way. Hemingway’s writing of course being described as pared down and simple, but still magically evocative. Hemingway could say more in a four word sentence than many writers can in a whole book. Trust me, as a writer myself, that’s not an easy feat to do.
The Last Word is a streamlined, cut to the chase of affair, but with an artisan twist. It doesn’t have a menu a mile long, nor a lot of exotic ingredients, condiments, or complicated techniques. It isn’t trying to gimmick out with the BIGGEST MONSTER BURGER EVAH, or some authentic yak meat and nettle dumplings from the mountains of Burma, or whatever. The Last Word is still offers cooking that’s creative and earthy, yet refined. Let’s give it a name; Gourmet Simplicity.
The menu is, yes, tight and simple. Four different sandwiches and a daily soup. There’s also a combo of both that comes with your choice of a daily side salad or home made biscuit. One flavor of home made ice cream is offered on a rotating basis, and drinks include the Honest Tea and Honest Juice line.
On the day I visited, Carts on Foster was busy getting their soon-to-be pub area in order, so I ordered and dined over the hum and rhythm of saws and hammers in the background. I did chat with the friendly owner of the Last Word, Mike Richardson, who recently moved to this SE Foster pod from NE Alberta Street. He sold real estate before opening this cart, but has always been an avid cook and lover of all things food related, and I have a hunch likes writing and literature as well (hint: the cart’s logo is an old vintage typewriter). Mike expects to expand his menu and hours as the cart gets settled in its new locale, and as the beer area opens and gains business.
I didn’t ask about the cart’s quirky name, a mistake in retrospect, but I was too focused on ordering one of his enticing sandwiches. I went for the Beef on Weck combo. This sandwich is a specialty of the upstate NY area, but you don’t see it too often in Portland. It’s a classic. Thin sliced, tender roast beef with horseradish on a soft Kimmelweck roll (a cousin of the Kaiser roll). As the combo, it came with a cup of the daily soup (I had the hearty, thick bacon maple barley), and a generous side of finely minced celaric root remoulade salad. It all made for a nice, satisfying lunch. I was too stuffed after my meal to try The Last Word’s ice cream, although it looked perfect for a sunny late spring day: Strawberries & Cream. Described simply, sweet, and straight to the point, just like that. And that’s The Last Word.
- Cajun Spiced Turkey Breast Sandwich: with sharp Swiss cheese and lingonberry sauce, on Asiago cheese bread -$7
- Maple Ham Sandwich: with spiced marscapone cheese and pear butter served on a honey molasses roll -$7
- Pulled BBQ Pork Sandwich -$7
- Soups: choices rotate but a sampling includes: Smoked Salmon Chowder, Buffalo Chicken Wing, Apple Stilton, Chicken Noodle, etc.) -$5
- Combo – Sandwich, cup of soup, side salad of the day or biscuit of the day – $8
- Ice Cream: one flavor made daily. – $3