July 2010


And the Mysterious Tale of That Little Town That Floated South

IMG_1649Does anyone really know where West Linn is? Sure, maybe some of the people who live there, and a few of those folks who live in Lake Oswego, but has anyone else ever been to West Linn? It seemed like no one in Restaurant Roulette had ever been there. It wasn’t really one of those places I fret about driving to, not like Tigard, Tualatin, or Beaverton, as I know the general geographic area where West Linn lays, and that it’s wedged against the Willamette River, making it not too hard to find. Where did that crazy bend in the Willamette River come from though?

Although this was over 18 years ago, for five years I worked in the old part of Lake Oswego, and almost every workday I would follow Hwy. 43 through Lake Oswego, through Marylhurst, and through the “outskirts” of West Linn to get to I-205. I had seen signs, so I knew West Linn was that place right before you got on the freeway and crossed the river above Oregon City, that place where lots of rich athletic types tended to buy homes (those who could not squeeze themselves onto the banks of Oswego Lake -actually called “Sucker Lake” in its earliest days.) (more…)


Surprisingly Good, If Excessively Footy


As the organizer, Head Honchette of Restaurant Roulette, I would have to say the question I have been asked, above all others, is “how do you hear about/select the restaurants?” As I always tell everyone, it’s not particularly hard, I just read food articles, be they in the daily and weekly printed rags, or on various online sources. When Fife decided to rather abruptly close, people seemed somewhat shocked, as chef Marco Shaw had a good reputation here, particularly in his Beaumont neighborhood. So most of the talk seemed centered on the demise of Fife, rather than what might eventually happen to that large boxy space built just to house Fife quite a few years ago (eight maybe?)

I think the only thing I read, in advance of opening, was on the Portland Food and Drink blog, mentioning that the incoming restaurant would be called Soluna Grill, and that the menu sounded like a bunch of American standards practically worthy of a chain, perhaps Stanford’s or Manzana Grill. IMG_1543 It wasn’t a particularly enthusiastic sounding news blurb, and while I only agree with Food Dude about half the time, it didn’t exactly whet my appetite for what was to come. Also, looking at Soluna’s website, the space looked a tad more boring now, after all, what can you really do with a big, modern square box? (although the big, weird, rusted metal object that sits in the parking lot will always RULE!) Also, when anyone besides a barbecue joint adds the word “grill” to their name, it makes me think lowest common denominator.

Needless to say, as much as I love new eateries, I wasn’t jumping all over myself to take RR to this particular eating outpost, post haste! That being said,  I do like to support the Fremont/BW area, and as it’s close to where I work, it makes me happy to see quality places root themselves there and stay there. Also, a “big birdie” in our group (who likes Rusty Nails) had mentioned that some work function had been catered by Soluna Grill, and that everything had been really good, so maybe we should add it to the roster. Of course I rarely listen to this birdie (after all, I don’t speak bird.) I did decide to look at Soluna Grill’s on-line menu again though, and was pleasantly surprised by how good some of the items sounded, particularly some of the smaller items and interesting side dishes. (more…)