Castor, a new restaurant in downtown Corvallis, is emphasizing a hyper-seasonal, super-fresh local menu.
“Our food literally comes from farms the day that it’s picked and harvested, and then it’s on the dinner table that night,” said Evan Deffenbacher, general manager.
“We have this crazy bounty of fresh local produce. We’re just trying not to screw that up. You don’t really have to do a lot to it when it’s that fresh,” he added.
All of the items except for grits come from within 100 miles of Corvallis, and most of them are from much closer than that. Produce is purchased from Gathering Together Farm in Philomath and Groundworks Organics in Junction City.
Deffenbacher said that he wants Castor — French and Latin for beaver — to be an everyday or special occasion destination for residents.
He doesn’t want customers to leave hungry, so portions are generous, and that includes the happy hour plates.
“Oftentimes, you go out for happy hour and you’re just getting a smaller portion for a discounted price,” he said. The Castor happy hour menu has discounts on the same size dishes, as well as drink specials such as a $5 old fashioned, whiskey sour or martini.
Among the most popular dinner offerings so far are steak options and the shrimp and grits.
“I’m from Louisiana, so that’s bringing where I grew up to Oregon,” said head chef Danielle Lewis, previously the sous chef for Marche in Eugene and the nearby King Estate Winery. She adds hazelnuts to the corn dish to tie things into the Beaver State.
The menu includes everything from hand-cut French fries for $5 to Wagyu beef ribeye steak for $70, as well as beer, wine and cocktails.
“We’re trying to offer a little something for everybody,” Deffenbacher said.
His favorite item on the current menu is the melon salad.
“Every day it’s a little different. It just depends on what melons show up from the farm. So there’s kind of different heirloom varietals of watermelons and cantaloupe and honeydew, fresh goat cheese, it’s in a little balsamic dressing with red onions and basil,” Deffenbacher said.
“We want our food and our menus to reflect the season. When it’s hot outside, you want cool, refreshing food,” he added.
There’s a limited window in Oregon for berries and melons, and Castor is trying to showcase that produce when it’s available, Deffenbacher said.
Castor’s owner is Oregon State University graduate Bruce Biehl, a farmer who also owns Eugene Wine Cellars.
Deffenbacher credited Biehl with giving him and Lewis the freedom to pursue what they were passionate about in creating Castor. “This project has sort of been a dream come true for us,” he added.
Castor, 458 SW Madison Ave., is open from 3 p.m. 10 p.m. on Tuesday through Thursday and from 3 p.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday.
For more information, go to the business’ Facebook page or call 541-286-4790.