Chef Thomas Boyce Out of Bluehour

From Portland Monthly, Chef Thomas Boyce “Leaves” Bluehour. Actually, it sounds more like he was shown the door.

As of Tuesday, Boyce was out and Dolan Lane, chef at Clarklewis on SE Water Avenue, was in. Bluehour’s Bruce Carey and Joe Rogers own both restaurants. Boyce says he was taken completely by surprise.

“He’s a fabulous chef. Amazing food,” says Carey of Boyce. “But Bluehour was becoming too special occasion under his direction. Dolan has had tremendous success at Clarklewis. He wants more.”

I am annoyed, because I was just finishing up a review of Bluehour that will now have to be canned. I am also annoyed because I was going to say that Boyce was making some of the best food in Portland; that he’d taken a has-been restaurant from a group of has-been restaurants, and actually made something out of it. Some of the food was at the point where I’d call it exceptional. I suppose with Dolan Lane on board, we are back to predictably boring food, that, like clarklewis, will be loved by the ladies who lunch from the local high-end retirement homes. That’s just sad. Word on the street is, there are other reasons behind Lane’s move, but I’d better not go into those.

According to PM, it sounds like Boyce wants to stay in the area – “Thinking about my own place, doing my own thing. The food I want to eat.” Good.

Remember the old days when Bruce Carey Restaurants (BCR) actually got some respect? Bluehour was once highly thought of. The same thing could be said of Saucebox, and clarklewis (though before the BCR days). Balvo, of course, was a failure from the beginning, becoming 23hoyt, which has never been anything special. Now, with the exception of Bluehour, no one takes them seriously. It’s too bad BCR never sticks with anyone/anything long enough to let it thrive.

<stepping off of box>

Your thoughts are welcome

  1. Matt says

    I’d assume he’s staying in Portland, seeing as his wife (Kim Boyce) owns/runs a successful bakery and wholesale baking operation here…

  2. Daniel says

    Too bad about Boyce – he had made Blue Hour worth going to again.

    BCR potentially next failure – Via Tribunali? Loss of 1/3 of the dining space when they had to close part of the restaurant due to safety issues and 100% staff turnover to current downtown rejects – sadly just waiting for the shutter news.

      • MrDonutsu says

        Wait, has Via Tribunali always been a BCR venture, or did he buy it at some point?

        I thought it was a venture of the Cafe Vita people in Seattle.

          • MrDonutsu says

            Curious though that BCR has links to all the Tribunali locations on its site, but not “Cornuto by Via Tribunali” up on Phinney Ridge in Seattle.

      • Daniel says

        VT has really good – simple topping – great sauce, light cheese and light meats on perfect thin chewy crusty. It is one of our favorite pizzas in PDX. Also they have quite good Cesar and arugula side salads, plus the real wine list. Makes it worth driving to Bum Alley for. Recipes are solid. Service has completely changed unfortunately. (and it is 1000% better than Oven and Shaker pizza if you are looking for one not to go to in PDX pizza wars)

        • says

          I’ll try to get in and check it out. I liked Oven & Shaker a lot when it first opened and was ready to give it a good review, but food took a drop in quality, and service was always… weird. I quit going.

          • psp2pdx says

            What’s weird about Oven and Shaker is the ‘roamer’…..the constant back and for person the with pad and pencil jotting down who has what left on their plate making this feel like a ‘fast food’ restaurant instead of a ‘wine and dine’. The feeling is ‘get them in and get them out’. I get the turn the table part but really…….give me 30 minutes!

  3. michelle says

    I think you should run the review you’ve written and reframe it as a review of the Chef. You’ve spent $ and time and honestly people should still know about him. It’s hard to get press in this town in a lot of circumstances.

  4. elfinpdx says

    Well, this is interesting news. I’d be happy to try Boyce’s food at another restaurant; I never liked the atmosphere at Bluehour. That said, I think clarklewis has been highly underrated by many, here and elsewhere.

  5. Jill-O says

    I didn’t click on the link yet, but let me guess, it’s the Nancy Rommelmann WW piece/hubbub, isn’t it. OK, gonna click now…heh, a point for me. Hey, 2005 was a while ago!

    I still remember her advising women to wear short skirts so they could enjoy their bare thighs on the white leather seats…it was AWESOME. Luv ya Nancy!!

    Add me to the list of folks who never liked Bluehour, especially the space.

    Wow, lots of chef shuffling in this last week, eh?

    • says

      Good memory Jill, I think you one of my longest time readers. I seem to be one of the few who like the Bluehour space, though I think it is need of a redo – those weird wall tiles have to go.

  6. Pascal says

    Here’s an idea: Dolan goes to Bluehour, Thomas goes to Paulee, Mondok goes to Clarklewis.
    There. We can still eat each chef’s food that we like and everybody is happy.

    • Dave J. says

      If Carey and Mondok could work together for more than 1 week, that to me would function as proof of the concept of parallel/alternate universes.

    • Ilene says

      Just to add to the chorus – Blue Hour was great with Thomas Boyce at the helm and will now likely return to its old mediocrity. Clarklewis is certainly uninspiring but I guess Mr. Carey equates innovative and delicious food with special occasions. I do hope Mr. Boyce stays in Portland as he is a wonderful chef and has lots of fans.

  7. Michele says

    Hey! As a woman who sees that “ladies who lunch from the local high-end retirement homes” increasingly close to being a description of me, I resemble that remark. As they say. ;-) Otherwise, you read my mnd.

  8. Mark says

    The food under Boyce at Bluehour was good enough to make me put up with the atmosphere/crowd there, which I did not care for. I would be a regular if he opened his own place.

  9. psp2pdx says

    Bluehour was back on track with Boyce’s direction. So disappointing to hear he is out. The buzz on the street was how good the restaurant had become again. Carey may have shot himself in the foot over this one. Here’s hoping Boyce finds himself a spot locally where we can continue to enjoy his well executed dishes.

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