UPDATE : 11/17/2008: Nutshell has closed.

UPDATE: As of early September 2008, Nutshell has gone from an all vegan menu to a vegetarian tapas restaurant.  Please see their new menu online, here.  The Stumptown Vegans have yet to visit.

Date: August 12, 2007
Times Visited: 2

Plate-licking-good is how I would describe Nutshell. Or maybe it’s, can’t-get-it-out-of-my-mind. This new vegan restaurant (minus the wines) is what Portland needed in it’s collection of vegan restaurant – gourmet vegan food.

You start with your choice of breads for $2, choice of olive oils and salts. Yes, there were “s”s on the end of those words. You know you’re dealing with foodies when they go beyond salt tasting salty, to salt sometimes tasting salty with a bit of smokiness or salty and earthy. If you’ve ever been curious about different oils and salts, this is the place to try them for about 50 cents each. Or you can try their 20 year old vinegar.

Many soups and salads are offered as starters. Some catering to the raw foodists like the pureed salad shot for $1. Lettuce, lemon, onion and lots of flavor blended until smooth and served in a shot glass. It’s not a soup for everyone, but definitely keeps your attention.

The unique entrees are reasonably priced at $11, 9 and 8 dollars. Choose from: Jamaican BBQ Orange Saffron Glazed Burdock, Raw Lasagna, Warm Yukon Gold Potato Pancakes, Nigerian Akars, red wine risotto, Israeli Couscous, Spaghetti with Truffles. They also serve sandwiches, and smaller meals like beans and rice and corn fritters.

Every time I would look at the menu it seemed a new item appeared- so much to choose from. My top picks would be are the Israeli Couscous with black cardamom, mint, parsley and a daily vegetable, or the Raw Lasagna with pine nut ricotta, pistachio pesto, sun dried tomato sauce and many marinated vegetables with beautiful heirloom tomatoes. But I hate to ignore the cassoulet and pasta! It’s hard to play favorites with Nutshell food.

The Raw Lasagna is stacked tall and flavorful, beyond the sauces, with the mushrooms, summer squash, tomatoes and eggplant. The couscous is creamy and smooth with a perfect amount of mint to bring out the other flavors of the dish but not steal the show.

You won’t find tofu, tempeh or fake meats and cheeses around Nutshell. This place is vegan with whole grains and vegetables – like the old days, or so our grandparents would say if they were vegan.

The most unflattering vegan item on the menu is the burdock root because it is served in one piece. It’s the only thing that makes it look like vegans eat sticks and leaves.

The dessert menu will leave your omni friends with the truth about how much better vegan baked goods are from non-vegan. Blackberry cobbler, Jamaican pudding, empanada, chocolate porter cake and maple chocolate tart. The slice of the tart may seem small but one bite and you’ll have wondered if you put an entire chocolate bar in your mouth. The chocolate cake is so moist, rich and thick you’ll be asking to marry the baker.

Vegan food from all around the world is enough to make anyone happy. The only thing that might be a shocker is the price. It’s easy for a single person to dish out $30 with a drink, salad, entree and dessert. Be sure to bring cash to avoid the on-site ATM fee. Visit Nutshell, hang out in their cool, lofty space, peer at the chefs while they prepare you the most gourmet vegan food you’ve ever had in Portland and dream of never leaving. Large groups beware, though they have a waiting list, they do not formally accept reservations. Your group of 10+ may have to wait over an hour, eyeing the empty back of the restaurant, wishing it was filled with a few more tables.

Bread and Salt:
Bread and salt

Nutshell - Naan

Nutshell - Phyllo

Date Smoothie:
Nutshell - Date Smoothie

Arugula Salad:
Nutshell - arugla salad

Microgreen Salad:
Nutshell - Microgreen

Jamaican Choco Salad:

Locro de Verdares:
Argentinean corn, stewed grains with peachesCorn












Festival – Jamacian fritters in a gravy:

Nutshell - Bammy

Raw Lasagna:
Raw lasagna

Nutshell - Lasanga

Jamaican BBQ:
Nutshell - BBQ

Pineapple and Avocado Sandwich:
Nutshell - Sandwich

Nutshell - Cous Cous

Nutshell - Pancakes

Nutshell - Stew

Chocolate Maple Tart:
Nutshell - Maple Tart

Chocolate Porter Tort and Chocolate Tart:

Cookie Platter:

Bamboo Fries:
Nutshell - Bamboo Fries

Beet Salad:
Nutshell - Beet Salad

Brussle Sprouts:
Nutshell - Brussles

Coconut Balls:
Nutshell - Coconut

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Address: 3808 N Williams Ave (503) 292-2627
Hours:Open daily at 5pm.


30 responses to “Nutshell

  1. Pingback: The Herbivore Store » Good Food in a Nutshell·

  2. Everything was salty beyond belief. Even my avocado strawberry smoothy was so salty I couldn’t drink it. It tasted like someone poured a container of salt into some maple syrup. The international pasta dish was nothing more than sticky salty spaghetti. I was sadly not into it at all, and I wish I could have been.

  3. Kurt that is too bad you didn’t enjoy your food. I had the Ethiopian Date smoothie and loved it! Sadly I tend to avoid vegan restaurants because they over do it with the fake meats but this place rocked!

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  5. The food was really OK. I ordered a Jamacian platter and received flavors that were really restrained and flat. Nothing like what I ate growing up on St. Thomas. The menu promised some sort of jerk sauce but I couldn’t locate anything with the exciting, intense jerk seasoning flavor, in the dish, though there was a sauce that was about 3 out of 10 on the spicieness scale. The other flavors in the dish were pretty lifeless. I enjoyed Nutshell’s selections of teas thoough.
    It does my heart good to see vegan restaurants flourishing (we had a 1 hr. wait to be seated on Friday night), but I hope Nutshell gets their act together in the flavor department.

  6. Unfortunately, I was underwhelmed by Nutshell. I’m not someone who’s excited by a more than one-hour wait unless the food is to die for, which it wasn’t. In a nutshell, it was bland and flavorless – I didn’t even bother with dessert. It made me sad since I’m a hardcore vegan always looking for a new place to go out to eat, but I won’t be returning here :o(

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  8. I finally went to Nutshell and I have to agree with Kurt that the food was awfully salty. I spent all night drinking water. Their fryer had exploded so half the menu was unavailable and since it’s not summer their famous raw lasagna was off the menu. The Poblano Fundido was really tasty, and all the entrees came packed with fresh seasonal veggies, but Gosh, what’s with all the salt? I think I won’t return til tomato season is back and I can finally try the lasagna. Oh, and it seemed the wine menu is vegan now.

  9. I’ve been a vegan for two years and have eaten at many vegan restaurants across the country, and I have never tasted vegan food as good as the kind at nutshell. I have been here at least 4 times, all with different (read: non-vegan) friends and they all absolutely loved the food. I really have no idea why two people on here have said the food is salty. Maybe they accidently dumped their gourmet salt into their dishes.

  10. just so you know, they changed their hours and are now only open from 5pm-9pm. (i found this out the hard way when i arrived at 3)

  11. My daughter took me to Nutshell on a recent visit, and I have to say it was the best restaurant food and wine I’ve ever eaten. (Dallas food IS pretty horrible, though)

  12. I went to Nutshell when it first opened and was blown away. The Mexican/cinnamon smoothie was so good I couldn’t stop talking about it. And the bamboo fries…. mmmmm. However, I went recently and the menu has been cut back. No more smoothies! And there were only like 6 entrees to choose from. The noodle dish I ordered was so salty I could not eat it. Because I am not that into the bread bar, there just wasn’t anything to enjoy for me. So sad, because my girlfriend and I thought of this place as our ‘fancy’ restaurant for special occasions, mostly because it is on the expensive side and the food seemed so high-end the first time we went. Too bad – I don’t think I will go back 😦

  13. I just went to Nutshell for the first time last night. I’ve been wanting to go, but didn’t want to support the foie gras at Ten01 – but now it’s off the menu, yay! I went with my mom (a recent vegetarian) and we both thought our food was fantastic. We shared the focaccia with 2 oils and 2 salts, the beet salad, the jamaican bbq plate, and the chocolate maple tart. All of the food was delicious, presented beautifully, and the server was friendly and knowledgeable (he helped us pick our salts and oils). I can hardly wait to go back!

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  15. That’s how the situation has remained. Vegans felt more at ease supporting Nutshell, knowing that the owners did not profit from this horrific practice.

    Thanks to an investigation, it has been discovered that Adam has lied. In an attempt to trick local animal rights activists into sparing his business from their attention, Adam has secretly placed the diseased liver back on the menu.

  16. I just looked at the Ten 01 website and none of their menus have foie gras listed as an item. Perhaps it isn’t being served at the restaurant any longer, is this a possibility?

  17. Foreignsand – We’d like to believe it’s off their menu and out of their kitchen but in the past there have been rumors that when restaurants are forced to take something off their menu it doesn’t mean it’s not being served. Sometimes it will still be available by request, as a special, or just something an insider must know.
    Anyone feeling up to visiting and challenging them to serve you foie gras?

  18. The Ten 01 website does have foie gras on the menu, and at least as of last night (8/22/08), Nutshell’s menu is no longer vegan. Cheese and eggs have been added to the menu. Most items can still be prepared vegan. I emailed Nutshell after my visit, and a response from the chef informed me that the menu has changed because they don’t have support from the vegan community so they’re changing their “business plan”. The place was pretty dead for a Friday night.

  19. We went tonight and, not having read about the change, were baffled by the new menu. They’ve gone to “tapas style small plates,” instead of salads, soups, and entrees, and almost everything has cheese save for a couple of salads. It’s like the chef just discovered dairy, and is using it just for the hell of it, to say “F U, haters.” We wound up just leaving, since most of the pleasure of Nutshell lay in appreciating creative inherently vegan cuisine. Is this really all about the foie gras?

  20. As far as I’m concerned this restaurant can suck it. They are the stupidest snobbiest place ever. In the past I put up with their fake upper class bull to get some creative vegan food and to support ethical food choices but went last night and, surprise!, looked like every other hoity toity yuppy place in Portland. As far as I’m concerned if they’re going to rely on cheese and eggs for all the tasty-looking items, they may as well just add beef and bacon. I found the host’s response to us leaving very insensitive (me – i thought we were at a vegan restaurant; him – oh, well it’s 90% vegan) That’s it? Whatever! I would never again recommend it or go there for any reason whatsoever.

  21. Pingback: WWire | Restaurant Apocalypse 2008: Nutshell closes·

  22. Pingback: Episode 5: Year 2 in Review « Stumptown Vegans Podcasts·

  23. Pingback: Nutshell and the topsy-turvy world that’s in it : is a beer drinker·

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