Neighborhood joint Cast Iron opens soon in former Last Word space

The restaurant’s slogan is “nothing too fancy”
Roasted maitake, king trumpet, and oyster mushrooms with bread crumbs, sherry, balsamic, and cured egg yolk

Courtesy of Evan Cordes

Set to open in the next two to three weeks, Cast Iron is the newest restaurant to try its hand at the old P’Cheen/Last Word space (701-5 Highland Avenue) in Old Fourth Ward. Led by chef Evan Cordes, formerly of Cakes & Ale and Serpas True Food, Cast Iron aims to provide a place for neighbors to congregate while enjoying quality food and drinks.

“My professional history has catered to quality-driven food [and] working with local producers. We want to be able to bring that concept to a neighborhood level in a place where people don’t have to overspend,” Cordes says. “It’s food for all occasions.”

Menu items won’t exceed $20, with beverages costing $10 or less. Options include duck confit gaufrettes with pickled onion cream, cherry mostarda, and duck skin; king trumpet and oyster mushrooms with sherry, balsamic, bread crumbs, and egg yolk; cider-brined pork ribs with cabbages and white sauce; and half-cooked snapper with olives, olive oil, pimento, fermented pimento, hop plant, and popcorn. Vegetarians can look forward to a mushroom “charcuterie” plate.

Ramps in a Cast Iron pan

Photograph courtesy of Evan Cordes

Brad Tolleson (Craft Izakaya, Brush Sushi Izakaya, Restaurant Eugene) will manage the bar program, focusing on American farmhouse-style brews, Old World wines, and happy hour-style cocktails, including a gin and tonic with house-made tonic. There will also be a bourbon, plum vinegar, and sarsaparilla syrup drink on the menu.

Cordes believes the restaurant’s identity is wrapped up in its name. “You can create a whole meal in this one dish. It’s simple but you can still do amazing things with it,” he says about a cast iron. “We’re not doing something trend oriented. That name represents timelessness.”

To make the Last Word space more timeless, Cordes says his team built walnut furniture, painted the interior a warm shade of blue, and added ash tabletops. They reconfigured the space to allow a better view of the windows, and changed the lighting to make the space more inviting.

“This location provides a wonderful chance to build a relationship with our guests and find out about the experiences they want,” he says. “It’s easy for chefs to get lost in what they want. We want to be there for our guests.”