August 2013


What Do You Mean Your Invitation Didn’t Arrive? 


IMG_3706This has been a weird summer. Usually what happens during the vacation season is I can barely find enough bodies to have dinners, and this summer I’ve had two in a row where I could not send out an RSVP, because all the places were filled as soon as I made the reservation. I guess it all depends on the venue. Next summer I need to remember, great venues are the secret (although why I had such a good crowd for Marquee Bistro, I’ll never understand).

Anyway, sorry to all you folks I had to leave out for our August 2nd dinner at Ox. The people at this one were basically the group members who begged me to have another dinner at Ox after our 2012 dinner there.IMG_3690 Luckily I made the reservation a loooooooooong way in advance, since during the very next week the Oregonian was proclaiming Ox their restaurant of the year, exacerbating the already hoarding masses. Because of their relatively modestly sized space, their immense popularity, and their no reservations under six people policy, Ox is always one of the hardest places to get in that we have here in Portland. At least now they have their cool looking Whey Bar next door, which when the weather is nice includes pleasant outdoor seating. This certainly makes a two hour wait more “endurable”.

As it’s probably close to the best reviewed restaurant to open in Portland over the last couple of years (Roe and Tasty N Alder are up there too) I don’t have to heap additional praise on Ox, everyone knows it’s wonderful. Last time there were a couple of staff issues that put me somewhat on edge during the reservation making and the end of meal service, but this time everything went as near to perfect as can probably happen when you have a group of 10 all wanting what they want. There was a tiny little snafu with the original bill that made us perspire a bit, but aside from that, everything was great. What can I say, Ox is swell. (more…)


Not A Fumble In Sight

IMG_3678Okay, if anyone still reads this thing, they may be thinking, hey, how come I didn’t get my reservation to this dinner? It’s true, you were not invited to the Block + Tackle dinner. There were no RSVPs. We had our dinner at Bistro Marquee the week that Block + Tackle opened. I mentioned at BM that I had already made the reservation for the next dinner, B + T. At that time enough people (basically everyone from that dinner) told me they wanted to be included in the B + T dinner, so i had no spaces left. Well, that was easy. Exclusionary, but easy.

Anyway, sorry to the rest of you, especially you seafood lovers, but Block + Tackle is not the world biggest place, so 10 places pretty much monopolized the establishment. IMG_3673Also, it’s already crowded, so I felt lucky to get any seats. As it happens, originally the reservation was for the over 80 time of 5:45, as that was all Open Table would allow. As fate would have it, however, Melissa Halle is in like Flynn with the GM or someone at B + T, so she was able to switch the reservation to our more usual 6:30 PM. (It’s true that this time also seems early to some folks, especially those from places like Spain, but after a three hour dinner, this still allows my members time left in their evening go out and party down! And/or put on their jammies and go to sleep).

Portland is fortunate these days to have many chefs who have attained national status, and others who are less talked about, but still acknowledged to be at the top of their game and putting out amazing food. Into this last category no one is more noteworthy than Trent Pierce, whose small and short lived eatery, Fin, produced amazing seafood dishes from opening until it abruptly closed just a few months later, largely due to building ownership mismanagement. IMG_3680Much of the Portland food world was distraught over the loss of Fin, and couldn’t wait for Mr. Piece to get another place going, hopefully one where he had more control over his own fate. Eventually came Wafu, Pierce’s take on Japanese noodle joints, one of the earliest additions to the soon to be exploding Division St. restaurant row. Wafu gained a loyal following immediately, but it was clear Trent Pierce’s heart belongs only to seafood, as he soon opened a tiny, elite, reservation only seafood den in the back of Wafu called Roe. At Roe you pay your tariff and enjoy a very drawn out, but exquisite, meal of freshly architecturalized seafood plates. The reviews have been glowing since inception.