Anna Witham is the culinary artist and mastermind behind one of Bend's most-discussed and spontaneous new dinner options. There is a reason for this. Her creations are beautiful, delicious and well-thought out, and with a three-day only window of opportunity, word travels fast. A "pop up" restaurant is basically a temporary eatery that utilizes the kitchen or facilities of another space and "pops up" with a menu designed just for those few days. It's awesome, creative, delicious, and it's good to be in "The Know."
This all started for Witham when her first-born brainchild, The Root Cellar, found success. Even as she gathered positive feedback from all who could afford a fine-dining experience, Witham felt as if she was perhaps excluding most of Bend. She considered the group of people who appreciate a better dining experience, but who would rather spend their hard-earned money on the mountains, in the woods, or on a new tattoo. The vibrant chef vowed to give back to the town that treated her so well. She didn't want to tease them with just a one-time pop; rather, she wanted to make this an ongoing occasion, building momentum. If a person was too late to get the information this month, fear not sweet, ill-informed folk! With the help of a month's passing and some social media sleuthing (following) the experience both in taste and in life will be available once, twice, three times more.
Chef Witham wanted to make her cooking creations more affordable and accessible. In the end, what she really wants to do is feed the people, she says, but it is much more than that. One thing that Witham is trying to do for the people of Central Oregon is to expose them to foods that she says, "aren't totally available to them [in Bend]." Breweries and bar food are aplenty, but variety in ethnic food? Not so much. They do exist, but in a small, yet growing town, the desire for diversity is becoming more and more of a demand. Witham sees this and answers the call. With a theme and location set to change monthly, interest in her events is mounting.
This last pop-up event took place at the Sparrow Bakery located at Northwest Crossing during evening dinner hours. The theme was Indian curry and the homemade naan bread could double as an edible accessory to anything in life. Though the spicy heat factor was lacking in the main dishes themselves, that appeared to be planned as there was an array of prepared chutneys available to those who wanted to bring out a bit more spice, but on their own terms. A lamb dish was served, dressed and ready to be eaten with just a fork, or better yet, hands.
Follow The Root Cellar on social media to keep up to date on when the next pop- up event will take place. In the end, this isn't just dinner; it's a community event.