Closures, Chef Shuffles, Rodent Wine, and Yelp on Steroids

Just because - Country Cat Whole Hog Plate. Photo:  ©John Valls

Just because – Country Cat Whole Hog Plate.
Photo: ©John Valls

The Press Club at 2621 SE Clinton street closed on July 20th. That is the second vacancy on the block this summer after SubRosa.

From their Facebook – “I am sorry to say that the finance director of the Press Club has decided to close the doors on July 20th. It is in the hopes of assessing the fiscal aspects of the business and restructure the organization to achieve a viable business model for the future. We have enjoyed hosting events and hope you enjoyed the space, atmosphere and services we have provided. Thank you again for all of the fun and music we’ve shared.”

Another change? a “for sale” sign on the Anzen storefront. The Asian market at 736 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. is a Portland institution, and according to the Food Lover’s Guide to Portland, has been around for over 100 years.

It sounds like The Fireside on NW 23rd is undergoing a bit of a makeover, with more of a focus on quality food. Portland Monthly says Jake Martin, previously chef of the now-closed Genoa, has taken over as the chef. He follows bartender Chauncey Roach, most recently of Ración. The menu has gone more upscale, with a strong focus on seasonal ingredients.

More chef changes. Jobie Bailey has left Nonna Italian Kitchen in NE Portland. Eater says he will be “pursuing new culinary adventures … Current DOC chefs Brian Scibetta and Jordan Lee will take over the menu at Nonna, where they plan to add ‘new, seasonal pizzas’ and a prix-fixe Sunday supper to the menu”. He started out as co-chef at DOC in 2011.

Last week, the Huffington Post ran an article by blogger Chris Knox titled, “So That’s Why Trader Joe’s Wine is so Cheap!” It went viral, getting repeated by wine folks everywhere. As soon as I read the original article, my BS meter went off, as it was full of inflammatory statements –

“And it not only grabs ripe grapes, but unripe and down right rotten ones as well and throws them all together. Add to that leaves, stems and any rodents, birds, or insects that may have made those vines their home – they all get thrown into the bin as well. And guess what? You think there’s going to be any sorting when that truck arrives at the winery (or should I say processing facility)? Nope. Everything, and I do mean everything (including all those unripe grapes, rotten grapes, leaves, stems, birds, rodents, and insects) gets tossed into the crusher…”

Who is Chris Knox? According to Quora, he is a “Web developer / Web designer / Data Specialist” for three wineries and a hotel – possibly with a personal ax to grind. The article was pulled from Huff Po after a short period of time, with a statement from the editor saying “This blog post contained un-sourced claims about Two Buck Chuck and its proprietor, Bronco Wines. It has been removed from the site in accordance with our blogger terms.” I bet. Even if all of this stuff is true, TJ’s has lots of lawyers. But wait, it gets better! The article, which posted on August 4th, was taken from a comment on Quora made three years ago.

It’s not that these things don’t happen; I’ve worked at enough wineries to know that “stuff” does make it into the crusher – even hand picked grapes are dirty, buggy, and some less than perfect grapes make it through; that’s just part of the terroir (if I was the emoticon type, a smiley face would be inserted here). Just keep in mind, if it is a huge, mass-produced wine, there may be a higher percentage of “non-grape material “.

Oh, this is exciting! Yelp is rolling out a feature where users can add three to twelve second videos to their restaurant reviews. “You may have caught wind that Yelp is introducing a feature that will allow users to add short videos that show off aspects like ambiance, lighting, noise level, and other features of local businesses not easily captured by photographs. Well, the wait is over…today that feature is available for Yelpers around the world!”

Oy. As if restaurants didn’t have enough problems, now they have to put up with an out of context video but amateur videographers.

Finally, the folks behind Bamboo Sushi are opening Bamboo Izakaya at 1409 NE Alberta, “A Real Izakaya Experience”.

“All items will be cooked over authentic bincho-tan, a charcoal made in Japan from charred holm oak”. I wouldn’t use anything else. The menu features lots of skewers and small plates, which will go great with cocktails – they will have three different whisky flights ranging in price to $75.

What might catch your eye is the inclusion of brunch, with selections such as Pork Cheek Hash, Cold Smoked Ocean Trout, Belgium Waffle with Duck Confit, and a BACON BAR with five varieties. Yes, a bacon bar. You can get a sampler plate. They have filed to take over some parking spaces for summer outdoor dining.

Speaking of whisky, there is a new free smartphone app called “Distiller“. I’ve been enjoying playing with it. They not only review whiskey, but have a built in recommendation engine, depending on your answers to questions, like “what type of occasion is it, how familiar you are with whiskey, etc. It’s available for Apple and Android devices.

Your thoughts are welcome

  1. PDX2FLR says

    Thanks for the round up. Bamboo Izakaya sounds interesting, (although the bacon bar does not) I’m putting that on the list. and practicing my smart phone video options. This emoticons for you

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