Central Oregonians who recall Bryson Fairlamb’s creative culinary touch will be glad to know that “Bry” is alive and well … and operating a food cart in Eugene’s hip Whiteaker District.
After 10 years in Bend, most of it as executive chef at Scanlon’s and 38 Degrees, Fairlamb — a Eugene native — returned to the Willamette Valley in 2009 while his wife, Tanya, completed her marketing degree at the University of Oregon.
Now he’s an executive chef again. He owns the Saigon Street Cart, stationed in a gravel parking lot opposite the Ninkasi Brewing Company.
This is certainly no step down. In cities across the Northwest, food carts are the new gourmet ghettos. In Bend alone, consider that Soupçon is the pride of Stephen Draheim, once the head chef at the Kokanee Café; and Spork is the brainchild of Jeff Hunt, previously of Marz and the Grove.
Fairlamb’s new specialty is the banh mi, a Vietnamese-style sandwich with origins in the many decades of French occupation of Indochina. He fills patisserie-quality baguettes with hoisin-glazed pork, lemongrass chicken, layers of pâté and a selection of vegetables: picked radishes and carrots, cucumber, jalapeño peppers and cilantro.
All the sandwiches are $5 or $6, and vegetarian rolls are also available.
“My cooking philosophy has always been [to make] family-style food, something you’d eat at home,” Fairlamb recently told the Eugene Weekly. But having previously seen the labor and expense in building a restaurant (38 Degrees) from the ground up, he presently had no desire to expend that level of energy again. “I just wanted to go [for] the minimalist approach,” he told the Weekly. (http://chow.eugeneweekly.com)
Fairlamb still takes frequent spring and summer weeks to guide fly-fishing trips by drift boat down the lower Deschutes River. Some of them are “gourmet” excursions in which he cooks fine meals for an upscale clientele. But most times, you’ll find him in his new Whiteaker digs.
Next time you’re in Eugene, stop by and tell Bryson how much you miss him. Open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays, Saigon Street Cart is located on Van Buren Street between Second and Third Avenues.