Amuse Bouche – 12/10/12

The Daily Meal asked top chefs to rate America’s food critics. In their first annual critics’ scorecard, The Daily Meal polled dozens of the nation’s most notable chefs and restaurateurs and asked them to vote on America’s best known critics.

Twenty critics were rated on a restaurant review scale of zero to four stars (four being a glowing review) based on four criteria: culinary knowledge, prose style, integrity (perceived), and likability. Even better, participants could actually critique critics and writers.

The top three scoring critics were LA Times’ Johnathan Gold, Vogue’s Jeffrey Steingarten, and the NY Times Pete Wells. My top vote would go to Johnathan Gold. In a conversation with him not long after I started this site, I came away with the impression that he was incredibly well versed in all things food related – more than anyone I’ve met.

The results are entertaining reading, but what really caught my eye is that, unlike Houston Texas, the editors apparently didn’t think any of our critics even merited a review, in spite of Portland generally being regarded as a leader in the food scene.


The Multnomah Whiskey Library is opening (appropriately) just a block East of the downtown Multnomah Public Library. According to Willamette Week, the owner is Alan Davis of the Produce Row Cafe. As I am a huge whiskey fan, expect to see me there often – it should be noted that it will be stumbling distance to the new Tasty N Alder. It will be at 1124 SW Alder. The Whiskey Library plans to be open daily from 3 p.m. to 12 a.m, and will have a seating capacity of 60. The boxes checked under the “Description of Outlet” on the liquor license are “Restaurant” and “Lounge”. Hmm. No word on opening date.


Lastly, Scott Dolich of  The Bent Brick, has decided to abandon his current menu, and move towards more traditional fare. In an interview with Oregon Live, Dolich said,

“I obviously bet on it when I started the Bent Brick,” Dolich says. “But the dining public in Portland is so well educated and focused on ingredients — thankfully so — I think the technical aspect of cooking can be scary. People in Portland really embrace the fact that they can get perfect peaches and beets and fantastic pork right at their fingertips. Why mess with it?”

The new menu will start in February 2013. Current chef Will Preisch plans to leave Portland at that time.

Though I don’t agree with everything they say, it’s an interesting interview and good food for thought.


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Your thoughts are welcome

  1. hsawtelle says

    Regarding the Dolich interview, I’m not sure Matt Lightner’s departure from Portland proves anything about the success of modern cooking in Portland. Castagna is still here and still good. The chef (Justin Woodward) was Lightner’s sous chef and his menu has continued to evolve and improve.

    I think Dolich is right on that it’s important to respect and feature quality ingredients, but that doesn’t mean we are strictly limited to simple/obvious techniques and presentations (as Rene Redzepi (Noma) and others have proven).

    I look forward to checking out the new menu at Bent Brick and seeing where Will Preisch finds his groove.

  2. mczlaw says

    Hank: Your optimism is, sadly, misplaced. Castagna under Lightner couldn’t fill seats four nights a week, and Castagna under Woodward can’t fill seats either. Portland fancies itself on the culinary bleeding edge, but that’s only true if dishes are simple, ingredients recognizable and prices don’t top $30. Rene Redzepi by any other name would bomb in Portland–unless he opened a food cart.

    –mcz

  3. Sean G says

    Just FYI, the Multnomah Whiskey Library will be about three blocks northwest of the library, rather than a block to the east. To be fair, the liquor store that is a block east of MultCoLib does have the best Whisky selection in town (and super knowledgeable staff) but the neighborhood isn’t quite as tidy as the 11th and Alder location, and they would frown on you drinking while there.

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