Lots of Bits of news

Lots of quick little things that have filled my inbox over the past few months. You’ve probably heard much of this before, but for those who haven’t…

Gabriel Rucker, chef of Le Pigeon is opening a new restaurant downtown. The new venture called “Little Bird” (get it?), will focus on simple “bistro” meals. Erik Van Kley, now at Le Pigeon, will be chef de cuisine. According to the liquor license application, it will be at 215 SW 6th Ave. You can read more at OregonLive.

Micha Camden is getting ready to open “Little Big Burger”. The fourth restaurant in the Camden empire, Little Big Burger will specialize in a VERY limited menu of… burgers. At first I heard it was going into the old Chow space – the old gas station at 505 NW 14th, but that place fell through. Now a lease is signed for 122 NW 10th (across from the back of the Armory building. Interesting location – it will either be a huge hit, or um, the opposite.  The website isn’t operating yet, but he has registered LittleBigBurger.com.

Doing a bit of research for this post, discovered another really annoying website. What were they thinking? Really? Really?! sagerestaurantgroup.com

The staff at Belly Timber Restaurant over on SE 32nd and Hawthorne has served their last meal. The space is being taken over by Tarboush Lebanese Bistro & Bar. Interesting idea for that building. I hope it’s upscale, ’cause nothing else is going to work in that space.

The Red & Black café at 400 SE 12th hit the news last week when one of the owners asked a Portland police officer to leave the premises and not come back. It seems the officer went in to get a cup of coffee, and was stopped by a customer for a quick chat as he was on his way out. Owner John Langley “felt uncomfortable” having an officer in the “vegan” café.

From KGW.com,

Langley mades no apologies. He said if he sees a police officer again, he would ask that officer to leave.

“The job of the police involves persecuting houseless people, immigrants, and having them in this space doesn’t feel right,” Langley said.

Ok. There are so many things wrong with this story. First of all, the owners are idiots. Do they really want to alienate the entire police department? Like cops or not, the day will come when they need help. If I were one of the responders, I wouldn’t exactly be spinning my tires to get there quickly. What if they are being attacked by yuppie anarchists?  Yes, the owners have a right to refuse service to anyone, but these people are idiots!

Heck, I remember the days when restaurants gave free coffee to cops just so they’d hang around. I’ll be first to say that I’m not a huge fan of some police officers, but I sure wouldn’t want to do their job. Someone set up a boycott page on Facebook – 15,000 members and counting. This is the type of things that give vegans a bad name (ducking).

Deep breath.

Do you work in a restaurant? Ever thought about leaving? Shuna over at Eggbeater Blog posted an article way back in March that struck a chord with me. It’s called “Chef Advice. On ‘Giving Notice’.

Quitting a cooking job right has to be one of the most talked about subjects amongst cooks. Everyone wants to know how to do it right. And few people give, or take, notice of resignation well. Most cooks know that to give 2 weeks notice today is to have one’s last day today. Most chefs know that to receive a 2 week’s notice today is to have a good-for-nothing-‘senioritis’ cook for the next two weeks.

Giving notice right often appears to be more elusive than bankers showing personal responsibility for their actions. And, yet, is is possible. But you have to be prepared, intuitive, professional and treat the person/kitchen/establishment with as much integrity as you wish for others to treat you.

There are many cooks that will scoff at the idea of giving notice, but Shuna makes some good points – and she knows her way around the industry. You can read the piece here.

Yesterday I posted a link to an article discussing people taking pictures of food in restaurants. Now, at the bottom of my inbox, I find this tidbit: Foodspotting! I have to admit, I’ve snapped an occasional picture of an especially attractive dish with my Android and sent it to friends (you can take that any way you want). If nothing else, it’s just to make them jealous – and they do it back. Now, someone has come up with and iPhone application called Foodspotting. Instead of helping people find the best restaurants, it highlights the best dishes.

From the description:

“We created Foodspotting to make finding good food easier. Instead of reading and writing long reviews, you can simply see what’s good around you and share photos of foods you recommend.”

“As a Foodspotter, you can…

  • Share photos of foods you love & tell others where to find them.
  • Complete curated guides & scavenger hunts…”
  • Earn expert badges and reputation points for quality contributions.

Personally, I don’t need no stinkin’ badges, but was going to download the app anyway, until I saw that out of 2500 ratings, it averaged 2 stars. Ouch. Anyway, you can find it in iTunes.

Kathleen over at Good Stuff NW got the drop on everyone about the new lunch spot being opened by Kurt Spak, owner of Alba Osteria. It’s in the same building, and will be called Caffée Autogrill. They will be serving baked goods from Baker & Spice, Picklopolis goods, pasta to go from Alba, Italian pastries and cold panini. You can get the whole scoop here.

New Chef at Timberline. A reader writes,

“I’m somewhat surprised that you haven’t picked up the scoop on Jason Stoller-Smith becoming the new executive chef up at Timberline. Not only that Jason is cooking up a Salmon Bake for President Obama and all of Congress as we speak.


I know this isn’t exactly Portland but at the same time it’s probably the biggest news in the Northwest right now.

I think Jason is most recently of the Dundee Bistro. From their web page, “For several years Smith was Executive Sous Chef at Oregon’s highly regarded historic resort, Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood. Counted in his accomplishments are wide experience as a culinary arts instructor, special event chef and caterer for the wine industry. He represented the Pacific Northwest promoting and exhibiting Northwest dinners in Bangkok. A year after joining The Dundee Bistro and bringing the notice of the national culinary world to Dundee, he was invited to present the James Beard Centennial Dinner–reservations quickly sold out–at the James Beard House in New York City. In the winter of 2004, Smith went on a two-month round-the-world trip of culinary discovery. He returned to the Bistro bursting with inspiration, ideas, insight, plans and the energy to implement them.”

I’ll do a couple more items. Remember the Eric Berchard Cochon 555/Magic Gardens brohaha (yes, I know it’s really spelled brouhaha) over a non local pig being offered as an ingredient? Well, Eric can rest easy tonight, and so can the Secret Service. The White House is using Oregon Beef. From OregonLive,

“Did you happen to see that Oregon wagyu beef was served at the big state dinner for Mexican President Felipe Calderon at the White House Thursday night?

If you did, you’re probably not alone. The menu for these state dinners always makes news, particularly in the digital age. When I ran a search request for “Oregon wagyu beef” and the “White House” and “state dinner,” I got 4,800 hits. The entree popped up everywhere from USA Today to food blogs to the Jakarta Globe.

The point is, no matter what you think of President Barack Obama, state dinners or eating beef, it helps boost Oregon as a place that produces quality food.”

Kind of a weird backdoor slam there.

Ron Lieber, writer of the “Your Money” column of the New York Times got thrown out of a restaurant for telling the chef he was being an ass.

He was in the restaurant with a group of four. The chef was screaming at an employee in the kitchen so loudly, it brought the restaurant to a standstill. This happened several times.

A few minutes later, the chef was at it again. Fifteen seconds. Another fifteen. And without much forethought, I pushed back my chair and walked through the open doorway of the kitchen.

I don’t remember exactly what I said, though I did not raise my voice to the point beyond where people in the kitchen could hear it. I told the chef that his behavior was making me and others uncomfortable. I let him know that I thought it was mean. And I asked him to cut it out. I don’t remember exactly what he said in response, but whatever it was, I found it irritating enough that I reminded him that I was paying to eat there and told him again to stop berating his staff at that volume.

Maybe 20 seconds after I had returned to my seat, he approached the table. He apologized, barely, and then let me know that he thought it was incredibly rude of me to come into his kitchen and tell him how to do his job. I repeated the fact that he had been ruining my dinner. But his yelling was all in the interest of maintaining quality, he said.

“I think it’s time for you to go,” he said.

Would you have done the same thing? I’m not that confrontational, and would have probably written a nasty letter when I got home. How about you?

Lots more to come as I clear out email. Thanks to everyone who has sent in tips! You’ve all been very patient.

Your thoughts are welcome

  1. Kai Jones says

    About the screaming chef: Anybody who is yelling like that in a restaurant is also a potential danger to me as a diner–after all, nobody could promise or ensure that yelling person wouldn’t become violent. I’d start with asking for the manager and approaching it from a safety issue-I don’t feel safe in the restaurant, would you please see to that situation. If that didn’t work I’d call the police, thinking I might be preventing an assault. I’m not stupid enough to risk my own life by going into the kitchen.

  2. Jeff Shultz says

    Beware that Sage Restaurant page… I hit “Skip Intro” and the link went away… but the intro continued. I clicked on the volume “equalizer” in the lower right corner… and it went away and the music continued.
    Incredibly poor coding to go along with the bad design decision of using a big noisy flash intro.

  3. johnny says

    I made a comment on the Berchard story referring to the old saying ” there’s no such thinng as bad press” well the owner of the red and black cafe might of just proven that wrong. I’m not a fan of Portland PD either but WOW!! What a dope!! That needs to go into the bad PR hall a fame!!

    • Food Dude says

      The funny thing is, they claim their traffic is up. If that is true, I bet it will go the other direction once the vegan clientele gets bored and forgets about it.

    • Food Dude says

      The worse part is, they keep bring themselves more publicity, keeping it in the public mind; for instance, the most inept press conference I’ve ever seen, which they held yesterday. On the sidewalk, noisy trucks zipping by, people walking behind them, rambling unpolished statement bt a guy who looked rlike that was the first time he’s ever worn a tie.

      I guess they didn’t want those awful press people in their cafe

  4. pdxyogi says

    I for one am glad cops are no longer allowed to recieve free coffee. It’s called “bribery”.

    The R/B owner’s comment that it’s not discrimination because being a cop is a choice is hogwash. People choose their religion and discriminating against people based on religion is a crime.

    Kai: Call the cops? In NYC? You’re kidding right? Because someone is yelling and you wish to “prevent” an assault? Good luck on getting a police response within 72 hours on that one!

    • JDG says

      Actually, something like 95% of the world’s population is the same religion as their parents. I read that on the internet somewhere.

  5. Melissa says

    Yelling at staff such that it can be overheard in the dining room is being a very poor host. I don’t want to listen to screaming babies, loud drunks, death metal, or screaming cooks during a nice meal.

    However, walking into an angry chef’s kitchen, even with a calm demeanor, is just a dumb thing to do. You don’t walk into a kitchen for ANY REASON…it’s just provocative. Cooks consider their territory unbreachable by outsiders and will react poorly to an intruder. No good outcome could come of that interaction, no matter how politely it was rendered. Asking to see a front-of-house manager or restaurant owner would be the way to go, and if the chef was the owner, then asking to see the chef at your table is the safest bet.

    And then, of course…there’s always the other side of the story. I wonder how Ron Lieber would react if a cook burst into his office to chastise him for his last column.

    • Food Dude says

      Really awful. I consider myself pretty web savvy, but it took me time to figure it out… plus half the features don’t work

  6. Joisey says

    1) LOL at the “anarchists” at the R&B. I wouldn’t go within two blocks of that place. Seeing the pictures of the “owners”, I can practically smell the place, and it isn’t good.

    2) I would rather have my eyes eaten by moray eels than read anything Shuna writes. Everyone loves her; I find her to be beyond arrogant. I’ll bet SHE yells at her cooks.

  7. homer's son says

    My foodie license will be revoked for admiting I watch Hell’s Kitchen. That said, Chef Yelling is now considered entertainment … two favorites: Donkey and Arse.

    The Sage website should be a case study in bad web design.

  8. long time lurker says

    “This is the type of things that give vegans a bad name (ducking).”

    More hate from a portland food scenester.

    Quelle suprise!

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