Review: H5O bistro & bar – First Impression

H5O (and that’s h-five-oh, in case you were wondering) bistro & bar is a part of Portland’s newest boutique hotel compound: Hotel Fifty. The bistro is under the helm of Texas transplant, Nicholas A. Yanes, a chef with a resume of high-brow dining rooms around Dallas, along with a degree from the Western Culinary Institute.

This affects the menu in interesting ways-it’s certainly not stuck on localvore cuisine, and it leans heavily in the carnivore’s favor.

H50 Dessert

Monkfish Entree

“We’re not afraid to fly it in fresh,” he said recently after a media preview of H5O. He was referring to the Maine lobster he gets for the “Lobster con Ravioli de Lengua,” a dish consisting of lengua-stuffed ravioli with literally a pile of lobster meat artistically stacked in the corner of the plate. The ravioli was one of eight main courses, and eight starters. It’s a short menu, but includes a duck confit, caramelized foie gras, oysters, calamari, monkfish, venison, and pheasant.

So really, why come to H5O for breakfast, lunch or dinner? And yes, they do all three (breakfast and lunch Monday-Friday, brunch Saturday-Sunday, and dinner daily). They have a full hotel above them after all. Outside of the obvious reason, i.e. if you or someone you know is actually staying there, H5O offers a unique menu that you don’t need a dictionary to read amongst a hip, sparkling atmosphere. I can see white-collar executives bringing their clients here, or a party of ten thirty-somethings celebrating a birthday.

Cheese Plate

Cheese Plate

Or maybe, like the two women to my right, you are unsure of your job security at a major bank and just needed something to ‘wow’ your worries away. They turned to a charming dessert-one of the more exciting takes on sugar I’ve seen in a while: the churros. Warm doughnut sticks, doused in cinnamon sugar are served alongside a shot of thick hot chocolate, topped with a slightly burnt pillow of marshmallow. It’s almost impossible not to smile at the sight of it, and sometimes that’s a reason in itself.

A few notes from Food Dude: I didn’t expect much from this restaurant, and was pleasantly surprised when I stopped in one night. This is one to keep an eye on. Cuisine Bonne Femme also dropped by, and raved about the cheese plate, saying “it has to be the best in Portland, and it’s only $6.00.”

Address: 50 SW Morrison St., Portland OR., 97204
Phone: (503) 484-1415
Hours: daily 6:30am. Dinner Sun-Thur 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm 11pm
Website: H5Obistro.com

Your thoughts are welcome

  1. says

    Indeed, this restaurant was a pleasant surprise for some things, but not everything wowed me. Ah, that cheese plate really was a thing of beautiful poetry though. Perfectly ripe, nicely balanced and an excellent choice in very fresh, seasonal and ripe fruit. Generous portions too. In addition, the oysters on the half shell with “foam” (or froth or air or whatever they are calling the sauce on top), although almost the same presentation, beat the pants off of a certain high end restaurant located just down the river.

  2. Nikos says

    The pics are unflattering. The cheese plate looks as if it was run over by a bicycle (perhaps) and the monkfish is trying to conceal a sinister dark thing spouting orbits of brightly colored coulis (biohazard chic?).

  3. lilhuna says

    Just to point out – Toro Bravo has been serving churros con chocolate’ since they opened, and they are off the hook!

  4. grapedog says

    Funny, when I see “H50″ I didn’t think about “Hotel 50″ but rather some type of super hydrogenated water molecule. H20+3 Hydrogens = H50. (Ok, it’s “zero” and not the letter O, but work with me here)

    Geez, am I the only chemistry geek that saw this?

  5. john says

    Very nice critique of H50 BUT as soon as I see the word “foam” on a menu I run very quickly in the other direction!

  6. Jenn says

    Ate there on Wednesday night, was quite pleasantly surprised. Went with the tasting menu with wine pairings, plus had two of the desserts, ran under $150 including tip. So not cheap, but worth it if you can splurge on dining out. We weren’t expecting spectacular from a hotel restaurant but wanted to try it out, and we’re glad we did. The “amuse bouche” of crostini with pear and cheese was perfectly delicious, and the meal just continued on like that. The duck confit dish was extraordinarily unusual, reminded me of a fantastic breakfast, great meat and rich caramelized flavours. The foie gras was incredibly light but still retained its richness, and while I would’ve never thought to pair it with pomegranate arils and minced celery, it worked really well. We also had a bitter greens salad, it’s the first time I’ve ever liked mizuna, the crispy polenta with it was served like a crouton and was okay but nothing spectacular. I’d never had dorado before, but it was quite good, reminding me of pork fat and beef fat in all the best ways, and the venison was like butter, and the couscous it was served with was incredibly fragrant and flavourful. The churros really are fantastic, particularly the chocolate, which rivals Jake’s pots de creme in its perfection. The mille fuelle were good, but not quite on the same level as everything else, though the presentation was great. The cocktails are quite good, and fairly average priced, $7-$8. We also really enjoyed the wine pairings, however, if you’re a fan of anything “standard,” the oaky California chardonnay, the deep dark rich Zinfandel, you’ll be disappointed, but if you like to have an adventure with your wine and are open to trying quirky ones, it’s worth trying it.

  7. Jenn says

    For clarification, the price tag for the meal I posted about was for two people. Ya gotta splurge when you’ve gotten a promotion at work, right?

  8. salmonfly65 says

    I ate lunch there last week with some colleagues. Not much going in the restaurant – only three or four tables seated while we were there. We ordered a bottle of wine that was marked up about 100% – I think that’s pretty typical and unoffensive.

    The African Peanut soup is very good, as was the Ravioli de Lengua (cow tongue). Overall, very good value, decent service, and no delays getting a table. I’ll head back again.

  9. White clams says

    Tonight I was actually taking a left off of Naito Parkway onto the Morrison St. Bridge, and I detoured into H5O.

    I ordered off the bar menu, but will be going back tomorrow night for dinner with a friend, so I can sample more.

    Without a doubt, the three “morsels” and dessert were the finest dishes I’ve had in Portland in a while (and I’ve had a few, including Sel Gris’ Lobster Gnocchi–my latest favorite dish, which suplanted the eggplant at Toro Bravo for me). I ordered the Razor Clam complemented with a tomato turrine–a very unique dish that was delicious in every way, right down to the Old Bay cracker, the shrimp scampi–a wonderful rendition served on a perfectly delicious crostini with the perfect crunch and garlicky oil texture, and the incredible Big Eye tartare–an ample portion that takes Sinju’s Ahi Tuna Tower to a much more simple and delicious level.

    Lastly, a dessert I could only describe to the bartender as “sick”. The Churros–wonderfully prepared doughnut like fingers covered in cinnamon sugar that were to be dipped into an espresso cup filled with hot chocolate sauced encrusted with a burnt marshmallow topping.

    I had no idea what to expect when I dropped in H50 on a whim. I left thinking this was an amazing find… one of the true treasures in Portland dining. The bar was very crowded–the dining room not so much. The economy? I don’t know, but if 10-01, Sel Gris and Toro Bravo are crowded, so should this bistro be.

    I can’t wait to experience this place again with my dear friend tomorrow night. I texted her that it was my treat–she just needs to pay for parking, which will undoubtedly create a smile when we pull up and enjoy the free valet parking. I parked across the street tonight, but was informed of this little perk by the staff.

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