If you take a close look at the front counter of Spork’s 50-seat space on Newport Avenue, you’ll see clever nods to a time gone by.
Sheets of rounded, knotted steel lay the foundation to the counter and remind loyal fans of “the Airstream,” Spork’s wildly popular mobile food cart that fed Bend for four years before going brick and mortar in June 2013.
Spork started as a globally inspired green-conscious, veggie-friendly mobile streetfood kitchen. Streetfood-loving Bendites lined up outside of the Airstream for pork carnitas, grilled corn, and a spicy fried chicken that made grown men cry. They won “Best Of” awards from local media every single year. Their bright green logo and playful name translated to rocking flavors, creative people and uniquely good times.
Clearly, co-owners Jeff Hunt and Erica Reilly had a good thing going, but there was an inherent limitation in running the kitchen out of the Airstream—weather, location, and volume. The pair realized they had hit a glass ceiling. And then a space on Bend’s westside started to call their name. They answered.
Inspired by global kitchens in Portland, such as Pok Pok and Bollywood Theater (see page TK), Jeff and Erica worked with a team of local designers, woodworkers and architects to create a space that is full of energy and positive vibes. The moment you walk in the space, you feel as if you’ve travelled to a far-off land, a land where bamboo mixes with stainless steel, where colors pop and inspire, where music rolls around and thumps in your heart, where flavors present themselves with a unique beauty and character that is all Spork.
“We want all of your senses to be pleased. We want you to feel good, not just get fed,” said Erica.
The food is of course, a big part of the story, and Spork maintains their dedication to sourcing ingredients locally and using quality seasonal veggies and humanely raised meats whenever possible. Jeff, with roots at Marz Bistro and the much-adored The Grove, is still turning out the signature dishes that garnered a loyal street credit, fusing flavors from across Latin America, Asia and beyond, covered and remixed in delightful ways.
Favorites, like the Spicy Fried Chicken, a rice flour battered boneless fried chicken served with spicy sweet sambal chili sauce, green onion, toasted sesame and jasmine rice, are just as tasty as they’ve always been. You’ll also find Lomo Saltado, a Hoisin Pork Belly Sando, Yellow Curry Catfish, and of course, some of the best tacos in Bend, topped with cotija, radish, green onion, cilantro, fried garlic salsa verde and jalapeno pickles.
“Food is a neat way to travel without going anywhere,” said Jeff, who points to his time in Thailand as a great point of inspiration.
Spork’s craft cocktails will also take you on a journey of the senses. Erica, also known as “the Cocktail Maven,” has put together a cocktail menu inspired by a classic cocktail revival of sorts, one that places the high-quality spirit as the star of the show. The Singapore Sling, the recipe that Erica says, “really blew my skirt up” combines gin with fresh lime, Benedictine (a French herbal liquor), cherry heering and soda. Erica’s cocktails are unlike anything you’ll find in Bend. Fresh, flavorful, and complimenting the spirit, they are drinks to savor and you are encouraged to pay attention to every sip.
Within the new brick and mortar design, food and cocktails, you’ll still find that friendly and positive spirit that makes Spork, Spork—which really, at its heart, couldn't take itself too seriously.
Photo credits: Spork
For more tips, tricks and recipes, go to www.SizzleandBuzz.com to purchase a cookbook. Proceeds go to benefit the hungry in your local area!