Review: Park Kitchen – Restaurant of the Year 2006

PFD Restaurant of the Year, 2006

Park Kitchen

Don’t tell his wife, but Scott Dolich is having an affair with kumquats. Not some blond bimbo from the Pearl, but rather a tart little fruit from Southern California. I, for one, couldn’t be more thrilled.

When I was growing up, my parents had a little kumquat tree on the front patio. Every year it would get loaded with fruit, and I’d lie on my back on the soft moss, throwing them into the air, trying to catch them in my mouth. They were wonderful little fruit bombs, loaded with explosive citrus flavors; a juxtaposition between sour and rind. To this day I remember the flavor, but never really thought of using them in cooking. That’s the difference between me and Scott. He’s a damn good chef that never stops thinking about new ways of pairing ingredients. Right now, kumquats seem to be his muse, brightening many of the items on the menu over these dreary winter days.

Park Kitchen’s creativity begins at the bar. Scott seems to surround himself with equally creative people, and lets them do their thing. Bartender Kevin Ludwig was voted by Portland Food and Drink readers as the best in the city. At first glance, his drink menu may not seem too enticing. Hmm… “Salt and Pepper: gin, Peychaud’s bitters, fresh grapefruit and lime, up with a salt rim” um, no thanks. Blueberries for Sal: gin, maraschino liquor, Gary Regan’s orange bitters and preserved blueberry, shaken and served over ice with soda”. Sounds too sweet; I’ll pass. “Celery kamikazes” What?! So many sound over the top, but when you try them, you realize that Kevin is literally a genius behind the bar; a worthy opponent for the chess game that Dolich plays with all employees. It’s the small touches that show the passion and dedication. I’ve always been a fan of the pear brandy sidecar. One night it was a bit different, a bit more rounded. When I asked, the bartender said he’d started adding a dash of real pear puree. Not a big deal, but it shows he’s always thinking; there is always room for improvement. The same thing goes for tonic water. I’ve never given it much thought, until Kevin started making his own from scratch. Is there another bar in town that makes their own? Taste it next to the bottled stuff, and you’ll never go back.

Over all the years, I’ve never gotten a drink from Park Kitchen that I didn’t enjoy.

A good chef can close his eyes and taste a dish before he ever makes it. This skill is made up of knowledge of the chemistry of food and how things work together; a perfect memory of ingredients. Do you have that ability? Here are two descriptions of dishes for you to taste in your mind. “Parsnip soup, almonds and caperberries”. This is a stunning soup, a smooth earthy puree, with a drizzle of grassy olive oil to brighten a winter day and almonds to give it an unexpected crunch. As I dug in, l found surprising little bursts of flavor from the capers. Just when I thought I’d figured out the palate, another burst of flavor: tiny tart circles of kumquat were scattered through the base. It sounds strange, but achieves perfect synergy between components ($8). Here’s another one.”Pork, cabbage dolmas, and kumquat relish”. The pork is cooked just the way I like it, moist, and tender, simmering in a lovely fan across the plate. As I take a bite, the sauce brings my conversation to a halt. It’s green… buttery…. I can’t wrap my mind around the flavors, so stop the waitress. Turns out it is spinach juice, duck liver, and butter. Good God, it’s one of the best things I’ve eaten in ages. Then it gets better; more thin slices of kumquats, a perfect counterpoint to the silky sauce, dot the plate. Moving on, I try one of the dolmas. The cabbage is so thin it looks like a net; it reminds me of tripe. I ask for bread to sop up the leftovers ($24).

Sometimes I’ll go in for dinner, and notice a dish on the menu that sounds “interesting”, but not necessarily like something I’d order. Most recently, the dish was a salami salad. It just didn’t sound appealing, but I gave it a try. Recently, they have found a great new source for salami. Most chefs would throw it on a plate as part of a charcuterie, with a drizzle of olive oil. Scott made a dish of frisse, salami, sliced artichoke stems, poached fingerling potatoes, and sunchokes tossed in stone-ground mustard vinaigrette on a puree of artichokes. The textures of the dish all play off of one another – the salami hard and crunchy, yet packed with flavor, each of the other ingredients bringing a contrasting texture and flavor. Many of these items can be found in a charcuterie plate, but I’ve never seen them combined quite this way ($9.50).

Duck with root beer spices and cornbread pudding seems to make an appearance once a year. If I hadn’t read the menu description, I’d still be trying to figure out the flavor from the root beer reduction. I’d guess there was a bit of vinegar in there too, giving it a slightly acid balance. The combination of ingredients made for a fabulous medley of flavors. The accompanying cornbread pudding was incredibly great ($24.50). A meal a few weeks later, started with “grilled sweetbreads and fresh bay from Leather’s garden”. The story goes that Scott had been coveting bay leaves from Leather Storrs backyard. One day, when he knew Leather was gone, Scott went over and stole the bay, and then put it on the menu to rub it in his face. Sounds like something I’d do to one of my close friends. The result is a dish of wonderful buttery sweetbreads on a bed of mild sour kraut, surrounded with bay cream sauce and Brussels sprouts that were packed with flavor. I didn’t even realize how much I liked Brussels sprouts, but then I’d never had them cooked quite so perfectly ($11). Another incredible dish is more simple on the surface, but all eight of my dining companions raved about it: a simple lamb over cooked greens in romesco sauce. We’ll work from the bottom up, starting with perfect greens – absolutely perfect. On top of that, little chunks of braised lamb, cooked until they fall apart, a nice, slightly gamey flavor permeating the meat. Finally, large slightly pink slices of more lamb; less gamey this time, providing contrast to the other meat ($23.50). Surrounding everything is the best romesco sauce I’ve had in ages; not that bland characterless excuse that so many restaurants use, but a real version with lots of depth.

I don’t think Dolich ever stops thinking about possibilities of food. A few years back, he was having a barbecue with his kids. I’m told he was grilling pork while holding a plate of watermelon, and was wondering what barbecue dishes could be combined in the restaurant, to make a “picnic on a plate”. What if he combined watermelon and pork? This flash of an idea led to a brilliant dish – pork two ways with watermelon sauce. Close your eyes and taste it in your mind. I can’t do it, or at least I couldn’t before I tasted it, but that is what sets this chef apart from most others in town. He took two flavors that no one would ever expect to find together and turned out an ethereal dish. That type of thinking is what keeps Park Kitchen on the cutting edge of Portland cooking. So go the dishes at Park Kitchen. They combine standard ingredients in unusual ways that raise them above the level of most every other chef in town.

Park Kitchen started opening for lunch about a year ago, when the banquet room was added. I gave it a try a few months ago, starting with a salad of beets, oranges and fresh goat cheese with almond tahini. Most of the time, restaurant versions of beet salads disappoint me, but these were perfect, the tahini dotted with an orange vinaigrette that made me do a double-take ($9.50). In a review a year ago, I was disappointed in the hot dog served at lunch. They kept tweaking it, and now it’s great; moist, flavorful, gently snapping under my teeth with each bite. The bun is perfect, the slightly sweet house made catsup and crispy, salty homemade potato chips tie everything together. One thing bothered me though. The whole time I sat there eating, I couldn’t help but notice a little wedge of beet sitting on the plate. I kept asking myself, who would pair beets with a hot dog? Never one to leave much on my plate, I finally speared it with my fork, and popped it into my mouth; another perfect and unexpected combination ($7.50). Who would have known?

When Tara Tulley stepped in to replace Ellen Jackson, she had big shoes to fill. Ellen had a devoted following, and many were sad to see her go. At first, things were a bit rocky, but over time the quality and inventiveness have grown. For me, some recent highlights include her whimsical take on a Waldorf salad with celery like ice cream, a light and airy lemon pudding, a pineapple cake with goat cheese sabayon and mint syrup, a carrot quince strudel with pumpkin semifreddo and pepitas, a celery root cake with peanut sabayon and sherried raisins, and chocolate-caramel panna cotta with pear fritters (all $8.00). This is truly a kitchen were people are encouraged to think out of the box. Sometimes things don’t quite work, but the selections tend to combine ingredients in unusual ways, and more often than not I leave with a satisfied smile.
Park Kitchen tends to divide people. A few weeks ago I was there with a large group of friends. Between us we ordered a good portion of the items on the menu. Afterwards, I compared notes on various dishes, and was struck by the divergent opinions. “The beet salad was wonderful.” “The beet salad did nothing for me.” “The pork was perfect… the pork was nothing special.” This seems to be a common thread, not only by the people I have had the pleasure of dining with, but also by commenter’s on this site. This is not pedestrian food. It frequently stretches the diner to think out of the box, and not every dish may be to your taste. This adventure in dining is one of the reasons I enjoy my meals here.

I’ve had dinner after dinner at Park Kitchen. 90% of the time, it’s so damn good I want to thank everyone in the kitchen. 10% of the time it falls short, and I walk out the door disappointed, because I know they can do better. Occasionally, the two extremes are made up of exactly the same menu items, but on two different nights – the old consistency bugaboo. Still, in my experience this is a rare event; the good meals are outstanding, and I can overlook an occasional dud. Everyone has an off night now and then.

Back in January, we ran a poll: “What is your choice for restaurant of the year 2006?” Park Kitchen easily won the readers choice, and it is my choice too. I am frequently surprised by the ideas that flow from Dolich, Chef de Cuisine David Padberg, Bartender Kevin Ludwig, and Pastry Chef Tara Tulley. They set a standard of creativity that few restaurants can match. It shows from the bar, to the entrees to the desserts. To my palate, Park Kitchen is easily the most innovative restaurant in Portland. It is not difficult to have a meal that will leave you with happy memories. Service is superb; affable and relaxed, yet professional and efficient; the staff knows the ingredients of every dish inside out and generally seem happy to be there. Dinners here are part of my regular Portland rotation, a place I visit when I’m not “working”, to have fun with my food, my friends, and to enjoy the interaction with employees. Highly recommended.

You can read our Monday Interview with Scott Dolich here.

Grade: A

Phone: (503) 223-7275.
Address 422 NW 8th ave., Portland, OR. 97209 Google Map
Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am – 2:00pm. Dinner: Mon – Sat 5:00pm-close.
Website: Park Kitchen Website
Banquet room available.

Park Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Your thoughts are welcome

  1. Carlo says

    I concur totally. Glad you specifically made mention of the bar, which I think is the best and most interesting in Portland, and the wait staff, which is always smart and warm and welcoming.

    It’s such a tiny tiny place, though. And now, thanks to you, it’ll probably be impossible to get in without a reservation. Sigh.

  2. Food Dude says

    Um, Carlo… they don’t take reservations. I have found it you go right when they open, or towards the late end, you’ll get in. Plus you can always eat at the bar.

  3. witzend says

    FD –

    Great review! I really think you captured the essence of Scott’s food, making me reach for my car keys as well. I’m anxious to see how well thier expansion works. I’ve neever been a big fan of PK’s space, (with the exception of dining in front, when the doors are rolled up, but I’ve always enjoyed the food. I think one of my favorite aspects of PK is the fact that they serve creative food without alot of the “we are creative” attitude, which I’ve recieved in fairly liberal doses at a certain Water Avenue enclave.

    PK came up recently in a discussion with friends regarding the Oregonian’s “Restaurant of the Year”. Although I wouldn’t wish that cursed distiction on anybody, the concensus amoungst my circle was that PK is a likely candidate.

  4. Apollo says

    FD they definately do take reservations. I used some two weeks ago. Not really needed during the week, but friday and saturday are so crowded there now that they really are needed.

  5. Food Dude says

    Apollo: I stand corrected. I could swear they didn’t take reservations. Thanks!

    strong>Some notes: PK will be closed from April 30th to May 3rd for remodeling. They are taking over the space next door, which they mainly plan to use for private parties and overflow on the weekends for parties of 8 or more. The plan is not for the space to become part of the regular dining area.

    They plan to start their new hours on May 8th, which means open for lunch and dinner on Monday(!). I think lunch hour will also be extended. April 23rd will be the last time they are open from Brunch.

  6. pearlpear says

    Great review. We just had dinner there for the first time this last Friday evening. It was a lovely night and the service was perfect. We chose the chef’s tasting menu and were not disappointed. We were served an incredible Blue Cheese dish not on the menu. Blue cheese slices, between homemade oat cakes, and a rhubarb sauce two ways. It was so GOOD I am salivating just thinking about it,and I am not normally a pungent blue cheese fan. It was so so so good. Truly a gem of a joint. Great recommendation.

  7. Food Dude says

    Welcome Cat. It is not on the menu right now. I may have missed it, but can’t remember it ever being on the menu. You might check their website as it was recently updated.

  8. says

    It isn’t on the website, either. It was definitely on the menu several months ago–I think it was last Fall that we stopped by. This is great. We’ve been wanting to try PK for ages.

  9. says

    What a beautiful review. I stopped by for lunch recently with my 5 year old son and we had a wonderful time. We sat at the counter and my little guy was very interested by the kitchen work! Our lunch was lovely and delicious. I have to go back for dinner soon. You twisted my arm!

  10. Ellie says

    Thanks for the great work, FD

    PK has long been a favorite of ours. Scott and his crew are some of the nicest, most deserving restaurant folks on the planet. I just had another stellar meal there last week. The chickpea fries are so good they’re stupid.

    They’ve been pretty busy after their review in the Boregonian a few months back, so reservations are definitely a good idea.

  11. Juliet says

    When I was at PK last week, I noticed too that the red wine was served warm – a temperature noticeably warmer than the norm, but I actually enjoyed the wine at that temp. I think that slightly warm red wine intensifies the flavor of the wine. So maybe the off-temperature wine is intentional??

  12. Food Dude says

    Juliet, I think PK is adding a wine cooler as part of their remodel.

    Wine often tastes different at a warmer temp, because warmth causes it to volatilize, or give off vapor.

  13. Gorana says

    We recently had our second dinner (after 1 yr) at PK and I must say we were quite disappointed.
    First we ordered some home made bread and olive oil hoping that we will have it simultaneously with our wine, however needed to wait 10-15 min for it after our wine arrived. Lentil and cucumbers soups were delicious, but my main course of Roman gnocchi was just ridiculous considering a price ($ 19), one big over-overcooked mashed-potato-with-herbs-look a like-disk with 5 pieces of asparagus??!!? Desert was also sort of a strange concept of chocolate toast…that was too dry and with no taste. Our order of ice cream with raspberries came with strawberries…
    On our first visit (we lived in NYC and Philly prior to relocation to Portland) we were pleasantly surprised with fresh and high quality ingredients and the restaurants atmosphere…this time we just felt as eating at overpriced restaurant with so so service.

  14. Carolyn Manning says


    Sorry your experience was less than stellar. Marshall and I ate there on Friday night (6/30), and we were just blown away … as usual.

    We started with the halibut carpaccio with a basil infused oil and fleur du sal. Delicate and refreshing. Then we each had a second course: Marshall had pulled pork Ravioli in a saffron broth. The flavors were complex and delightful. I had the crispy duck blini with fresh, popping-sweet green peas. It was even better than Marshall’s ravioli.

    Then we shared the Pork Three Ways main course (which ended up being actually pork 4 ways). I was really interested in seeing what Scott was going to do with this dish comprised of the cheapest cuts of pork that would make it worth the $24 he was charging. I think $24 is high for Portland, by the way. Oh, my! It was perfect!!! Each bite was a delicious variation of texture and flavor. Seasoned and sauced perfectly, it was totally worth $24.

    I think it’s like this:

    Canvas: $25
    Paint: $35
    Supplies: $52
    Painting by Picasso: PRICELESS

    At Park Kitchen, it’s not the ingredients you pay for, it’s the skill, imagination, and artistry of the meal that you recieve that counts.

    I find Scott’s wild experimentation to be a thrill a bite. If I ever have something come out of his kitchen that is substandard, I wouldn’t hesitate to send it back.

  15. Gorana says

    Dear Carolyn,
    what I can say….lucky you. Maybe Scott should work his magic more consistently…will be back to check!


    PS. There is no imagination without superb ingredients to inspire you in the stellar kitchen…at least in my experience.

  16. Food Dude says

    I have to say, I had an excellent meal at PK last week:
    1) Summer beans, roasted peaches, almonds, and fromage blanc
    2) Little heads of romaine, blue cheese dressing, sweet and sour beets
    3) Cherry braised duick legs with long cooked green beans, hazelnuts and spatzel
    4) pork three ways with gooeseberries and fennel.

    Every course was a winner.

  17. Ellie says

    The samosas on the lunch menu right now demand me to order them every time. They’re traditional only in that they contain potato and peas – the rest of the dish is a PK twist. The dough is flaky and has “bite” – a hard thing to get right, IMO. Anything Scott pickles is rockin’ good, too.

  18. Marshall Manning says

    We visited Park Kitchen last night and had an amazing meal. We sat at the chef’s counter and went with the chef’s menu ($45/person, and totally worth it), and were treated to their excellent house made paté, the delicious flank steak salad (one item that never seems to disappear from their menu, thankfully!), and a crisp, clean cold razor clam and sea bean salad with peppers, that was a perfect match with a glass of Vouvray Petillant off the glass list. Moving to the warm small dishes, we were given sweetbreads with a lettuce sauce, and duck and chanterelle dolmas. We were already feeling plenty happy by this point, but the pork two ways in a watermelon sauce and lovely rabbit tenderloin with rabbit confit, sorrel and tomatillo convinced us to eat a little more. We were so stuffed we could barely eat dessert, but the chocolate and caramel panna cotta with pear fritters was amazing, as was the apple pie with maple bacon ice cream. Our only request was that all of the dishes include meat or seafood of some sort, and they even managed to do that with one of the desserts! This was one of the best start to finish meals we’ve had in Portland, and I’d definitely recommend putting yourself in the hands of the chefs if you want a top-notch, filling meal. Just have someone to help roll you out of bed the next morning!

  19. Food Dude says

    Note. Post was updated to Restaurant of the year as of this comment. Previous content was replaced to preserve existing comments.

  20. Apollo says

    Good choice Food Dude. Park Kitchen is easily my favorite restaurant in Portland, and has been for a few years now. I have never had a bad meal there. A few have not been up to par, but never bad. I think you are correct with the 90%. I actually go in sometimes and wonder if one of the other diners is Food Dude…

  21. Hunter says

    Interesting. I’ve always had good meals at PK, never a bad meal or dish but never a stunning one either. Scott is consistent, always good but never great. I guess I’m one of those “others” but I won’t argue with the pick, your site, your call.

  22. Pork Cop says

    I’ve never been to Park Kitchen myself. I was wondering why peoples opinions on this place vary so wildly. Many people Love the service other people think it’s terrible. Same story with the food. I realize that this is all opinion but it seems more extreme than with other places.Anyone have any thoughts on that?

  23. Suds Sister says

    Those cocktails sure are fantastic. Once, at lunch, I was mistakenly served a Salt & Pepper with a sugared rim…definitely not as good. I am really looking forward to the House Spirits dinner there next week. It will be interesting to see how cocktails pair with food.

  24. Ellie says

    I’m addicted to that parsnip soup. IMO, Scott’s food is simple, subtle, and f’ing stellar. And look, ma! No ego!

  25. Food Dude says

    Pork Cop – I think I touched on the food issue in the review. As far as the service goes, I have never had a bad service incident here. That being said, it isn’t a place I’d go if I was in a big hurry. The kitchen is small, and on busy nights it can take a little bit longer than normal to get the food out. On a related note, I was told last week that they are replacing some of the line equipment next month, to reduce wasted movement and streamline things.

    On another related note, Scott Dolich was nominated for a James Beard award today.

  26. Pork Cop says

    I read that…. but it’s still kind of interesting. Most of the bad things I’ve heard were regarding the service. As in …they’re way understaffed and subsequently snippy and off the mark. On the other hand I’ve read many things praising their service.As the best service in town. It’s a strange one.

  27. Cuisine Bonne Femme says

    Nice write-up Food Dude. I too would give them restaurant of the year, and with a dramatic year for Portland restaurants, it’s nice that Scott runs a soap opera free shop.

    As for service, I’ve only had great service at PK, but perhaps the ex-waitress karmic gods and godesses were smiling on me…

    Finally, JAMES BEARD NOMINATION? Congradulations PK, and well deserved.

  28. grapedog says

    Ok, all this talk about the great food and service at PK has inspired me to make reservations for dinner this weekend. You know, one day we should coordinate and take FD out to dinner en masse so we can sit around and write our review notes together, debating the opinions in real time instead of on the website. :-)

    Side note since I complain about lukewarm service at restaurants in Portland: Went to dinner last night at Papa Hayden. Service was less than professional. Server didn’t know anything about the wine list and didn’t offer to send anyone over who could help. Entrees arrived whilst the plates from the salads were still on the table. The runner said “ummm, could I squeeze these in here?” Umm, maybe you should have cleared the table first? Ugh. I want to go to Park Kitchen not ONLY for the food, but also for some decent SERVICE.

  29. atlas says

    Grapedog, what are you doing going to dinner at Papa Hayden?

    Next time your in the area looking for a dining choice consider, 23Hoyt, Bastas, Serrato, Wildwood, Tuscany Grill, Besaws, Cafe Mingo… Just to name a few. Not that I am singing the highest of prasie for these alternates, but they are from my perspective… better than Papa Hayden. It occurs to me I am assuming you dined on the westside… maybe it was on the eastside and in that case, that location is fairly remote so if you were weighing Papa Hayden or Iron Horse Restaurant I guess I understand your choice.

    Hope you enjoy Park Kitchen… all this hubbub about PK has me interested in getting in there as well. I’ve had decent meals there, but nothing like what it seems FD has experienced so I am really looking forward to getting by there now.

  30. Cuisine Bonne Femme says

    Yeah, I was wondering the same thing…Papa Hayden’s is where girly girls and their whipped boyfriends go to gossip after a hard day of shopping on 23rd, drink diet iced tea, eat salads, and tsk-tsk each other about ordering butter and cream laden chocolate concoctions, although they all sneak extra forkfulls…

    However, isn’t Papa Hayden’s supposed to have some giant mandetory training requirement for their staff? I remember reading an article in the O about how they require all servers to go through rigorous training before they are allowed to wait tables…hmmm…

  31. sidemeat says

    well, you take your parents, or inlaws shopping, horror unuf, but then where to go with people for whom chili’s seems sorta exotic? mmmm,
    hot turkey sandwich.

  32. Pork Cop says

    Papa Haydens always reminded me of a slightly upscale version of the old Roses on 23rd. That’s not a good thing.

  33. sidemeat says

    Of the old Roses,
    we used to say
    (before you dined @23rd)
    You must be as wide as this sign
    to dine at Roses

  34. kentonmiss says

    i have fond memories of eating treats at both Roses and Papa Hayden’s in the very early 90’s, a time when all this restaurant hoo-ha was a little tamer and Portland was still lacking in the shear number of fabulous dining options available now. I think at that point, Papa Hayden’s was still considered a slightly high-priced good restaurant with lots of fancy cakes. I defend the old-school, for whatever its worth. but no, with all the options, i wouldn’t take my grandmother to dine at Papa Hayden’s. Higgins would be more her style.

  35. Pork Cop says

    Kentonmiss, You’ve got a point there.Unforetunately, One of my very first meals in PDX was at the 23rd Roses… this was about 1989. I got the worst..form of food poisoning I think I’ve ever had.I actually called 911!
    I do remember, at about that time, taking my best Gal to Papa Haydens and thinking I was styling, steppin’ out on the town.A pimp on his way to the bank. It’s sorta like looking at my high school year book. What was I thinking…..

  36. grapedog says

    atlas: Having lived in Portland since 1983, I have been to all of those great places you listed many times except 23Hoyt, which was my choice for this dinner last night. My sister and her husband were visiting from San Diego and they wanted to go somewhere “nice”. McMenamin’s on 23rd was the first choice. Yes, we were on NW 23rd, just a short, tiny step from 23Hoyt. So close, yet so far.

    Regarding Roses, we used to go to the location in Beaverton years ago on Sunday morning to get one of those huge cinnamon rolls to enjoy with coffee and the Sunday paper. Just imagine the carbs!

  37. sidemeat says

    Any How Park Kitchen
    Good (excellent) food, without attitude or too much ego, Ive only been for drinks and apps but have allways felt that I was in good hands, and that Food Dude was on the stool next to mine. Of course, HE got all the
    girley action.

  38. JDG says

    I don’t give a hoot about the restaurant, but please! folks, out of respect to the composer, it’s:

    H – A – Y – D – N.

    No E.

    Save your Hayden’s for references to Heroes or Coach.

  39. Pork Cop says

    Is there a little spot on the menu where they explain that? Otherwise…I’d say you’re wrong ….it’s just Haydens, I hope that doesn’t bug ya…

  40. KM says

    Park Kitchen menu has always been fine, but to me nothing outstanding. I have to say I was entirely turned off when upon receiving the bill, the bar chooses to separate the price of liquor and the price of soda and juice. Come on, just price the drinks and charge me for them. This seemed quite pretentious and has led me to pass up returning to the restaurant.

  41. Marshall Manning says

    Okay, I realize that everyone has their own reasons for doing things, but you didn’t go back to the restaurant because of the way they invoice their drinks? That’s like not going back because you didn’t like the color of their napkins.

  42. working stiff says

    More and more restaurants, especially those that receive business diners, have their POS system seperate food, non- alcoholic, liquor, wine… It’s not to be pretentious. It’s for practical reasons. Quite often, those with expense accounts are credited food but not alcohol.

  43. fuyuk says

    Hey Marshall, how many places do you know(in PDX) who invoice their drinks seperately? I agree with KM, pretty snooty for a roots type restaurant. The last place I saw was in Europe at a fancy schamancy hotel.

  44. MB says

    Actually, re: Papa Haydn Restaurant, the establishment is named after the composer, which is apparently a traditional sort of thing to do for german bakeries/cafes. At least, that’s the reason given by the folks who own the place who happen to be of german extraction.

  45. Marshall Manning says

    I don’t know any that do, but I generally drink wine and not mixed drinks. Still, I wouldn’t base a decision on whether to return to a place based on how they invoice their drinks. As long as the charge is correct, it doesn’t make much of a difference, does it?

  46. atlas says

    I agree with Marshall, if they charge accordingly why should it matter?

    I don’t see how this is perceived as snooty? Maybe it’s a way they keep keen oversight on their costs, I don’t know… but snooty? If everything was decent and enjoyable yet the way they do their record keeping has people thinking they are snooty or pretentious… color me confused. They can break apart the cost make-up of my entree if they like for all I’m concerned…

  47. Steve says

    From Wikipedia:

    The composer Joseph Haydn is sometimes given the nickname “Papa” Haydn. The practice began in the composer’s lifetime, and has continued to some extent to the present day.

    I guess I’m a total elitist snob, but I’m always amazed by the number of people who’ve never heard of him and don’t know how to pronounce his name (High-din).

    There’s also this:
    After Haydn’s death (1809), during the 19th century, the term “Papa Haydn” became something of a stereotype, designating to many a kindly, perhaps doddering old man whose music was very simple and thus suitable for children.

    Substitute “food” for “music” and I think it’s a pretty appropriate name for the place.

  48. the mick says

    This is a practice that happens all over Europe (not just in “fancy” hotels). The reason for this is that sodas on a “gun” are rare over there. Most mixers come in small bottles (coke-12oz, soda and tonic-8oz). Normally one bottle of mixer will cover 2 to 4 drinks (or in Ireland….4 to 8!). I agree with all above who say “what’s the big deal?” So most other restaurants build the price of the mixers into their drinks costs……but, then again, most other restaurants don’t make their own tonic water.

  49. Food Dude says

    Steve – I particularly like the trumpet concerto. You just got me off of the couch to turn it on.

    Can we all get back to Park Kitchen? Geeze, I really need to roll out the forum software.

  50. miso says

    I am not an experienced or savvy restaurant reviewer — and don’t pretend to be “in the know” regarding the “hip” places to dine in Portland. I typically read sites like this and cross my fingers a lot:)
    I am just a simply Italian girl who creates everything from scratch, and I just know what I like and what I don’t:)

    However, the first time I underwent the PK experience it was incredible! We sat at the Chef’s counter/table our first time in, and watching those wizards prepare our food was an amazing treat. Our server knew exactly the right pairings regarding wine. He was cute, funny, and just made the entire experience incredible.

    The Chef/Owner took the time to talk with us, and they acted as though they enjoyed it, not like they felt duty bound to talk. Know what I mean?

    It was in my language Bonissimo!!!

    We left our server a 30% tip. We like him and PK that much!

  51. Barman says

    I’m sure you all have heard that Kevin Ludwig is no more at PK. He has moved on to open his own place. Don’t know who his replacement is, but I heard the interview process to replace him was quite grueling and chaotic. Grueling, I understand, to replace such a great bar man. But the unorganization and chaos of it all makes me question the ‘management’ of the place. Good luck to his replacement, whoever they are. They have big shoes to fill.

  52. Amoureuse says


    Can you blame Scott for being so cautious with Kevins replacment? Kevin took a lot of pride in his job. Besides, there is no management, it is Scotts call. If I was Scott, I too would be cautious. PK is a small place, with a small staff. The management style, and enviroment is somewhat ( for lack of a better word ) “organic” . Gettting a new employee to fit with PK’s core principals and food style is tough. I would like to see the new bartender make the famous “tonic water”. These are some tough shoes to fill……I commend Scott for being cautious, if he hires the wrong person it ends up affecting his bottom line.

  53. Food Dude says

    Barman, I kept track of the search for a new bartender as the search went along, and it never seemed particularly chaotic to me. Most importantly, I like the new guy and think he’ll be good, though he certainly has big shoes to fill! Now we just have to wait for Kevin to open his place.

  54. Barman says

    I guess I only had limited input on the interview process. I have experience in bigger places that have structured hiring and training procedures. I guess that a small place like that doesn’t really need the structure because the food is so good and the place is small and quaint. It will be busy regardless. I haven’t been in to see Kevin’s replacement, but look forward to checking it out. Also looking forward to Kevin’s new place. Any word on the location or open date for that?

  55. San Franciscan says

    I had dinner with a friend last night at Park Kitchen on my first trip to Portland. We ordered the bread with olive oil, a large hot plate (lamb shank), and two small cold plates (a beef flank salad with blue cheese and sherried onions, and gin-cured mussels). I have some compliments and criticism.

    Most of the food was excellent. So many times, I leave an upscale restaurant having eaten what is unquestionably a quality, but forgettable, meal. The menus, and the individual dishes, of many nice restaurants are the same. I appreciated the creativity of the flavor combinations at PK, and the meat (both the lamb and the beef) was cooked well.

    Dessert (chocolate spice cake with blue cheese ice cream and sour cherries), however, left much to be desired. The other elements were delicious, but the cake was dry, dry, dry and hard, almost as if it had been sitting around for several days.

    It’s annoying that PK sells its bread and housemade crackers as a “small cold plate” for $4. Really?! For those dinner prices, I can’t get complimentary bread? I’ve had better and more varied bread assortments, free of charge, at comparable restaurants. And, yes, many of them even come with “good olive oil.” Clearly, the $4 is minimal. It’s really the principle. Oh, and I agree with a previous reviewer that the timing of the bread arrival needs serious work. Our bread arrived even *after* our other small plates arrived.

    Lastly, service was a bit sloppy, and it certainly did not measure up to the standards I hold for a nice restaurant. Our waiter was a perfectly nice gentleman. He was never unpleasant. However, we waited longer than we should have for him to take our order. He was MIA for much of our meal. Rather than working systematically, he seemed to float around the notably small (read: should-not-be-difficult-to-manage) dining space without doing much, and whenever he stopped off at a table, it looked like he was doing it on a whim, not because it was his job. He completely avoided our table after he brought dessert. He failed to bring our check at the end; another server did it. An example of his odd inefficiency: While we waited for dessert, he brought us dessert forks. Then, at least seven minutes later, he floated back around to bring us dessert spoons. Again, it wasn’t that he left the first time thinking, ‘Oh, I forgot spoons!’ and promptly returned. It really was as if he spontaneously thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to take them some spoons, too? Maybe…’ Food will keep customers coming back, but to be a truly good restaurant, PK should tweak its frustrating service.

    Thanks for listening!

  56. Gretchen says

    Those are all good comments San Franciscan, and to support your comments, I would like to share that Park Kitchen is aware of the service issues and they are currently working on implimenting the changes necessary to bring service in line with food.

    The food however, will always stand slightly above service at Park Kitchen. It really is about what is on the plate at Park Kitchen, and the servers are there to support that, rather then distract with superfluous service. It’s a fine line that we are still learning to toe.

    That being said, you are entitled to get your order in to the kitchen in a timely fashion, and the timing of the courses when you want them. Feeling that the service was sloppy is a sure sign of a restaurant in the midst of re-defining service standards.

    Nothing will ever be perfect, but stay tuned! Thank you for posting.

    Gretchen Wilcox
    Service Director
    Park Kitchen

  57. Hunter says

    Am I the only one that was made a bit uncomfortable by Gretchen’s post? Food is the end all and be all of any restaurant but service is pretty damn important and frankly will bring me back perhaps faster than superlative food. I have had service issues at Park Kitchen as well. Even if the food is the best on the face of the earth, lackluster service will keep me away from a restaurant.

  58. Pork Cop says

    It was a strange response. Even stranger coming from the Service Director. A great restaurant must have great service. And why is it so difficult to find competent servers? It really isn’t that hard to do.

  59. Jill-O says

    I agree with you Hunter…and in the case of Park Kitchen, I have had such bad service (3 times) that I have not been back since.

  60. Barman says

    During the interview process of Ludwig’s replacement, one of the candidates was there for his 2nd interview. The place got busy and he had to help out. He ran food, bussed, and generally helped out, but said that the server/manager that was hiring him was not a strong server. She made errors on orders, her timing was off for salads/entrees, and was in the weeds during the rush. This is the type of server/manager that is involved in the hiring process? It doesn’t make sense. I know the place is small, but your core group should be competent and able to handle pressure when it is busy. (It wasn’t Gretchen) Portland is a food town with many places that offer both great plates and service. Hopefully PK will find a balance so it’s not solely reliant on their food, but service as well.

  61. Pork Cop says

    In my experience…. managers are usually the least competent people of all. It’s always been something that I have never understood. Managers, generally, make much less money and work many more hours. I kinda view them like critics. Those who can… do… those who can’t..manage.Not always but…very often thats the case. Very enraging.

  62. Food Dude says

    Pork Cop, I am highly offended by that remark… unless you don’t think I even qualify as a critic, in which case all is well ;>)

  63. Pork Cop says

    You’re not a critic…you’re an observer. Different animal altogether……. (insert winky face here)..

  64. amoureuse says

    Well, at least Gretchen addressed the problem. Here is the “rub” #1 PK is a small space to “control” if they are addreessing service problems, it shouldnt take too long to rectify. Now Gretchen is on the clock to FIX IT. If after a an approproiate time ( 1 month ) the problems are still there….then as a good employee, she must take responsibility and quit…..that is the bushido way of life…..Yoshh!!

  65. jake says

    PC, have you done both jobs? Bartend/serve and manage? They’re totally different and require different skills/motivation. Me, I’d rather bang out my shifts bartending, but I’ve managed and it’s hard—not in a physical sense, natch, but dealing with all the stresses and the immensely delicate egos of those in the service industry trying at best.

  66. Pork Cop says

    Yep, I’ve found bartending to be the most demanding. Long hours, drunks,co workers,managers,drunk managers...the whole deal. I’ve had some competent managers….. just not many. Who wants to work double/triple the hours, quadruple the problems.. for half the pay?

  67. sidemeat says

    Bartending is stressful. And management is over the top,
    under the gun, in your face, on your shoulders, behind the
    eight ball, ahead of the curve and between several hard places. (and, yet, so attractive)
    But, my friends, and you are my friends, a barista has a
    sad lot.
    There is the wrong side of 4:00 a.m.
    Nurses, delivery people, cops, casual laborers, dog people and otherwise good citizans
    that just happened to wake up in the bushes this morning
    are looking for a little COFFEE!
    And that’s cool.
    Stumptown trained, direct drive byke, too much coffeeman tattoo GRIND IT TO ORDER and would you like the image of Christ in your foam?
    you love coffee
    But the people you serve NEED coffee.
    As well as a bathroom, a bath, change for the bus and
    coffee artists sell to coffee junkies and coffee pornagrifers.
    A ‘ uh, I want a chai double dopeo with nonfat whip
    half sugar free peppermint half mocha spritze’
    At first glance seems like an odd response to your
    greeting of ‘GOOD MORNING’
    But then you realize that your a dealer,
    and these people are junkies.
    Not just for caffiene;
    But for foregiveness, absoluion, clarity, extra napkins.
    as sidemeat screeds
    so it is.

  68. jp says

    My husband & I tried Park Kitchen for the first time this past Saturday. After reading all the fanfare, awards & accolades, I was expecting a stellar performance. Unfortunately, this didn’t pan out.

    Appetizers (small plates) were inventive and fresh. However, they weren’t knock-my-socks-off outstanding…you know, the kind you’d expect from a James Beard nominee.

    Dinner (large plates) was another story. My husband’s ordered the pork with rhubarb chutney. Outstanding. I ordered the ricotta gnocci. This dish had no business being on their menu. When I read the description, the olives threw me a bit. But after reading in this blog how food dude was continually and pleasantly surprised by the chef’s unlikely combinations, I thought I’d give it a try. BIG mistake. Try and put this together in your mind: pillowy ricotta dumplings, mild red sauce, sautéed broccoli rabe, lemon-braised fennel, niciose olives and shaved hard goat cheese. I kept tasting different combinations, trying to pull something together that made sense on the plate, but neither my husband nor I could get through the dish. We ended up sharing his dinner.

    Service was another disappointment. It took 30 minutes to get drinks, then the kitchen lost our order (or something) and it took another 30 to get our first course, and at least another 30 to get our second course. The waiter did apologize and let us know the order was lost and comp’d our drinks, but it wasn’t a good start to what we really wanted to be a great evening out.

    Meanwhile, a nice couple next to us was getting plate after plate from the kitchen, each time a wonderful-looking assortment of treasures and detailed descriptions from the waiter. They went through 3 and 4 rounds of plates as we sat there waiting for one. I’m guessing they ordered the chef’s tasting menu, which I must’ve overlooked because I never saw this on the menu.

    I guess my overall feeling is disappointment. My husband and I know food. My step-father taught at the CIA and my father-in-law just retired from Chez Panisse after 25 years there. We both are big time foodies. So when I read about Food & Wine mag’s New Chef of the Year ’04, James Beard Nominee ’07, and the other list of accolades, I get excited. Unfortunately, this lists among the many other well-hyped but leave-there-disappointed Portland restaurants. In my mind, there are only a small handful of restaurants in this town that are on par with dining experiences in San Francisco or New York. I love our farmers markets, our fresh produce, Plate & Pitchfork, anything Ken or APizza makes, and those handful of restaurants that really showcase what this area has to offer. Whether we ordered the wrong thing or it was just an off night, I’m sad that PK didn’t live up to any of this for me.

  69. Food Dude says

    I have to say, it seems something is going on at PK right now that we don’t know about. I sent friends in there yesterday, and heard back that the kitchen was slow, service was below par, and the small plates were salty and not up to usual standards. This is from people that I trust, that know food. I’m hoping they are going through some sort of rough time… maybe people have left, maybe a chef is sick… I don’t know. I do know they are in the middle of training a new pastry chef.

    I’m going to make it in this weekend and see what I think. Of course the menu changes Wednesdays, so I may not have the same dishes others have.

    Still, I don’t think we can pan a restaurant based on a bad week. That is the reason I go 3-4 times (or more) before I do a review. Every restaurant hits occasional bumps in the road. I’d urge you to wait a month and give them another chance.

  70. Hunter says

    This is more than a bad week dude, from the posts, this is a pattern which I’ve experienced multiple times.

  71. jp says

    I was thinking of giving them a second chance, of going back with my girlfriends & having drinks & small plates. I don’t think I could get my husband to give it another whirl, but I really did want to believe that something special was happening at this restaurant. I’ll take your advice & go back in a month or so. I’ll let you know afterwards how it went.

  72. amoureuse says

    I wouldnt go to PK until late next week….isnt Scott in NYC to pick up his Beard award? The kitchen should be humming once he gets back…..

  73. Papaki says

    I’ve eaten at Park Kitchen many times over the past couple of years and like it a lot (even though, like everyone, I’ve also had the occasional clunker there). The issue people have been bringing up lately regarding service is nothing new, as Hunter says. Service has always been — well, let’s call it very informal and VERY leisurely. I don’t mind that a bit.

    But I’ve really always thought of Park Kitchen as a great little intimate neighborhood place — nothing more — in a neighborhood and a city that has an abundance of such places. Where it gets into problems, I think, is when all the hype and accolades PK gets — such as Food Dude’s “restaurant of the year” designation or all those TV shows that mention PK as THE place you need to dine when you’re in Portland — start presenting it as something more grand than that. It’s good, sometimes very good, but not THAT good. If I needed to find the one perfect restaurant in town for an unfogettable dinner on an important anniversary or something, I’m not sure PK would even be on the list of places I’d consider.

  74. David says

    I will be eager to see updates on how the kitchen fares in the coming weeks. I’m traveling to Portland for the first time in late May, and have made reservations at Park Kitchen and Wildwood, two restaurants where friends tell me I’ll be assured a nice meal featuring well-prepared local ingredients.

  75. Apollo says

    Well, I am an eternal PK fanboy, but I do have to agree about the new servers. Man, things are slow and awkward there right now. But the food is still just as good as it always has been in my opinion. I had a dish come out cold recently (not a small cold plate), and that has never happened to me there before.

    I liked the comment above about it being a neighborhood spot. It really is just a small neighborhood bistro that happens to have some of the best and most inventive food in this town. But at the bare bones it is a bistro at heart. Hell, Scott originally was only going to do breakfast and lunch. I would say to everybody to give them a chance. The staff is pretty much all new people who need training. I know staff turnover is normal for most restaurants, but this is really new for PK. The staff that have all recently left were there from the begining, or close to it. They have never had to train so many new people before. I know I will be going back regularly as I always do, and I know they will get these speedbumps behind them soon.

  76. no sarah says

    Just got home from a decidedly lackluster meal @ PK about an hour ago. The friend that suggested it said he had had one of his best dining experiences ever there… and this from a guy with a lot of international experience. Clearly, things have changed. Service was a HUGE problem, to the point of being laughable. Our irritating server brought us our bottle of wine, then left it sitting, un opened, on the table for 10 minutes till I mentioned to another staff member that it would be nice to do more than look at the bottle, please open it and bring some glasses. After that our waiter seemed to be there only to intrude on the conversation at our table, interrupting us with an unusually loud and whiny voice, reaching across my face repeatedly, and offering up fluff rather than substance when asked about particular dishes. When asked about the “olive oil souffle” on the dessert menu, he kept repeating that the olive oil added no flavor, but added to “the lightness of the affair”. Really, this started to feel like a “saturday night live sketch”! The food itself was salty and ill defined. I could barely tell the tripe from the morels in the small plate of pasta. Lamb with pine needle gremolata sounded great, but the lamb chop was insanely tiny and fatty, and I could barely catch any pine at all in the sprinkling of lemon zest over it. Whatever the mystery green vegetable was that appeared on the plate, it was stewed in the salty sauce to beyond the point of recognition. The leek and cardoon tart was tasty, but unexceptional, the pork was similarly over salted and overstewed… these dishes certainly had nothing to say about the fresh brightness of spring… more like winter in eastern europe! Pecan creampuffs were so hard, dry and seemingly stale as to be pretty much inedible. I so wanted the quirky but balanced innovation others have raved about. After this, I will have a hard time giving them another chance!

  77. G-man says

    I agree with the various commentors on the bistro-style of PK. It is designed to be as such, and to anticipate more than that is missing the point of the place. True, there are issues as there are with every other restaurant on the face of the earth. The most challenging thing for a chef/owner is to get the staff to think and act like they would. By the time a chef gets the staff to do that, the staff realize that point as well and go open up their own place, leaving said chef to find and train a new staff. How do you attain consistency with constant turnover? It’s one of the most frustrating aspects of being a chef.

    Once a restaurant is given recognition, as PK has with Scott’s nomination for a Beard award, suddenly people begin to expect the unattainable. They find the need to discover some proof that the nomination is justified. Hype gets built up and suddenly chefs are expected to perform miracles. What may have been minor irritations before suddenly become major issues among the customers. I’m not saying that there are no service issues there, but those issues suddenly become more vocal when that bar gets raised. Operating a restaurant requires one to strive for perfection with the understanding that perfection is unattainable.

    Diners in restaurants (especially those without a history of working in the restaurant industry) need to question their desire to find fault with a restaurant which strives to give them a great over-all dining experience. True, there are those times when restaurant service and food (no matter what the restaurant) will not be up to expectations and there may be legitimate reasons for that. But it is important to remember that, for the most part, these are hard working people who are doing there best to provide the diner with a great experience and at the end of the day they have to go home and feed their kids, pay the electric bill, make the mortgage payment. They have lives that depend on their jobs just like everyong else. But unlike everyone else, they also have to deal with negative press and the knowledge of what that can do to their livelihood.

    I believe that those who have a truly awful experience in a restaurant should have the right to warn potential diners of the experience. But when it comes to nit-picking, I think one has to ask themself if it is really worthy of going out into cyberspace for all to read? And is it really a good idea to get onto the internet immediately after a negative dining experience (most likely after imbibing as well) and post some vengeful comments about the experience before perhaps giving it a good nights sleep and making that decision under less passionate mood swings? Just because you can doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Restrauteurs do not go out of their way to make sure the diner has the worst experience of their lives. Quite the contrary actually, they want you to come back. If a diner has a bad experience, the time to speak up is during the meal, and not after you get home. The managers really do want to make it right. They don’t like to see customers upset. If you don’t speak up, how are they to know that anything is wrong?

  78. Ann says

    I sidled up to the chef’s bar tonight to eat and watch the bustle in the kitchen. Having heard so much good news about PK I was imbued with quite an anticipation for my meal. I ordered and mindlessly followed the sous chef with my eyes. He reached for the box of Kosher salt. He poured it into a dish. He shook the now empty box to see if it was truly empty–and dropped it on the floor. Oh, I thought, this is going to be entertaining to see him handle the delicate necessities of hygiene. Where is he going to put the box that fell on the floor? Is he going to wash his hands after he picks it up? Imagine my surprise when this guy (with earrings, salt and pepper hair, glasses and a clean-shaven face, not to name names) picks it up, places it on his cutting board, then squashes it flat. He then put it it a recycle bin/trash and began cutting green onions on the same cutting board. He never washed it or his hands. To put something that had been on a dirty kitchen floor on a cutting board without then washing that cutting board is grounds for absolute horror to this eater. I hope he was fired after I told the manager. I was horrified. I canceled my dinner and don’t know if I’ll ever go back.

  79. Food Dude says

    Ann, I hate to say it, but that wouldn’t even have raised my eyebrow. That’s the problem with an open kitchen – you can see all the stuff that happens. Maybe it’s because I’ve worked in kitchens and saw stuff much worse than this every day. In a perfect world, yes, he would have carefully thrown it away, washed his hands, and gone back to cooking, but usually, there is no time, the food is going to be cooked anyway, and frankly, he probably just didn’t think about it. The realities of the restaurant business.

  80. sidemeat says

    Absolute horror? Oh Ann, dear Ann, may I suggest a booth?
    The 5 second rule is the least of your worries.
    Dining out is not pretty.

  81. plumpkin says

    Really? Salt? Judas Priest!!!! Seriously. If you think a salt box on the floor is worse than the flesh you stick in your mouth, you have some re-evaluating to do. Salt? Floor? Come on now. There is a lot more that goes on everywhere else than you will ever know. So, chew it and stew……

  82. Nikos says

    Agree with Sidemeat and FD. Ann, think how chefs (on TV) touch every single blessed thing with their bare hands when they plate food (especially salads) Yikes. And germs are EVERYWHERE! Yowzers!

    I think there is a Victorian prudishness behind washing your hands after handling your (may I say very clean) member of your anatomy (I am talking about guys). And urine is sterile as it comes out. Now for the other function, there may be E. Coli involved, so I see a rationale for washing hands then…

  83. atlas says

    I don’t think the salt box complaint is quite the dire situation Ann percieved. She was “horrified” as she put it… and while I think perhaps that is a bit of a over-reaction, the defense of such unsanitary practices is IMO pretty absurd.

    Her primary cooncern seems to be that floor debris may have made its way to the cutting board and thusly into the green onions. That floor debris could range from fibers from a carpet to remnants of dog doo from the park… such disregard for the possibility gave her concern. A concern that I share.

    I don’t imagine this is standard practice at Park Kitchen, at that moment this guy was obviously lax with the standards of sanitary practice. Let’s hope he recalls this situation and learns from it.

  84. Papaki says

    I have it on good authority (OK, it’s my dog) that there’s nothing wrong with eating off the floor. He does it all the time — and he hasn’t been sick a day in his life.

  85. Doctor Stu says

    I would be far more concerned with plastics like melanine and petro-chemicals in food than with something dropped on the floor for a few seconds.

  86. extramsg says

    Just a quick point: Park Kitchen’s bar doesn’t exactly look OVER the kitchen. It’s a mediocre vantage point compared with, eg, Wildwood, Country Cat, Fenouil, or Ken’s Place — unless they’ve changed things since the last time I ate at it. So while I believe the experience happened, I find it likely the perception is a little off from reality. I doubt he smashed it on the cutting board, but rather may have smashed it on the counter. Taking stuff off the floor and putting it on a cutting board is a bit gross. Not washing your hands after picking up a light, dry BOX with 5 out of 6 clean sides that fell on the floor? Not so much.

  87. dave says

    My girlfirend and I ate at PK on Friday, and it was an almost unqualified delight. We had five small dishes, four of which were superb. (A salad of aparagus, lentils and duck ham was a bit of a snooze). The service was smart and attentive, and amazingly, with three cocktails, the tab came to $65 (pre-tip). Not bad!
    If I have a quibble, it would be the mark-up on some of the wines. The night I was there, a glass of the Spanish tempranillo ‘Protocolo’ was going for $8. A bottle of Protocolo sells for about $5.50 at my neighborhood grocery store.
    I look forward to returning, however.

  88. apollo says

    There is a small section of bar seating directly overlooking the kitchen. I think it has two or three stools. I sat there once, and it was horrible because I was bumped every time somebody went to the bathroom…

    I agree about the over-reaction part. If somebody did that in an open kitchen, imagine what they do in normal kitchens… If I were you Ann, I would only eat at home from now on.

  89. kentonmiss says

    I recently ate at PK and while the food was wonderful, the service was unbelievably wretched. Having worked in the service industry for a number of years, I understand having an “off” chaotic night and try to be forgiving if things move a bit slow, but the level of service ruined the meal. We waited 25 minutes for a reservation, when we were finally seated, it took 15 minutes to put in our drink orders and another 20 to actually get the damn drinks in hand. Service pretty much went like that for the entire meal. It was appalling and to me, and struck of a certain disrespect for the work of the kitchen. The kitchen staff was clearly working methodically and quickly to produce one quality dish after another, only to be supported by a front of house that was disorganized, flaky, and rude in a passive aggressive sort of a way. I felt unwelcome by the establishment and felt that the kitchen was being undermined. It seems unfortunate.

  90. Papaki says

    Gosh, that’s an awful lot of people saying the same thing about service problems at Park Kitchen lately. Makes me afraid to go back, and I’ve always liked the place. What IS the problem there?

    Could it be that the “three stooges” from the waitstaff at Terroir are moonlighting at PK?

  91. prime_rib says

    Here’s the thing about the service at PK… although there is great food here, in general service in Portland’s restaurants suck. The service in all of Portland is sub par when compared with any larger world class city, so lets not compare service experiences in Portland with anywhere else. I don’t know why this is; believe me, I’ve been trying to figure it out out ever since I moved here. That said, Park Kitchen, where I’ve been going for the 3 years I’ve lived here (since moving from New York), has better service than most. It hasn’t always been perfect, but I do think that there are now some great folks working there who do the job right. Server Kevin and Server/Bartender Shane do a bang up job! They are both attentive and each one of them adds to my PK experieince.

    I do think, as with every restaurant in this entire city, PK’s service is imperfect. But speaking in relative terms, it’s one of my best bets! Certainly when Kevin or Shane wait on me, I would vote PK as my favorite place to dine. (Gretchen does ‘upsell’ all the time, which I can’t stand. It’s too obvious.)

    Try it again… ask for Kevin or Shane and I am sure they will treat you right.

  92. eli bishop says

    i was disappointed in park kitchen. it sounded wonderful, but when i went last week for the tasting menu i didn’t find a single dish which made me swoon. in fact, all but one had the same vinegar high note. it felt like a lot of money and high expectations for an uninspired meal. i much prefer 23 hoyt, ten 01, clark lewis, or toro bravo.

  93. teamsplashi says

    I think Park Kitchen made a huge mistake by ceasing to serve brunch on the weekends. It was far superior to their dinners – fried green tomato sandwich with sunchoke soup – swoon! Tasting plates, not so much…

  94. Pearlite says

    I have been here one THREE seperate occasions each being about a year apart and had some of the most abysmal service that I have ever experienced. I doubt most people would have returned on so many occasions, but I wanted to give the benefit of the doubt and experience the great things that people were saying.

    My first experience I was left standing alone for almost 10 minutes before I was greeted or seated. The restaurant was not busy. I ordered a coffee and was mostly ignored or passed over only being attended to once, when she delivered the check.

    The second experience, I was intially cheerful and took a lady- friend of mine, hoping to impress her with the ambience of the place. The gentleman who “greeted” us was particularly gruff, we asked if they perchance might have a bandaid since she was developing a small blister with her new pumps. He says, “yeah, I’ll be right back” When he came back, he returned to take the order and acted as though we were inconveniencing him by merely being there or had questions. She opted for a Bloody Mary, and I a water, as I had no intentions of spending money someplace where my patronage is unappreciated. We ventured off to 23rd where we enjoyed brunch at a restaurant that liked serving people.

    The third time, I was promptly sat, my order was taken by a nice waitress this time, but she sat a familar group and later ignores me the remainder of my visit. Only coming back once for a single coffee refill and to drop off the check. The food wasnt anything to write home about and not filling. I was disapointed having given them three opportunities to redeem themselves, and each time ignored.

    I wasnt ill dressed, rude, condescending or rude towards the staff, and it honestly surprised me how poorly I was treated. I never- EVER recommend this restaurant and I have lived in the neighborhood nearly 7 years now and expect to remain for several more to come.

    Good luck Park Kitchen.

    • germaine says

      Too bad you had such experiences.
      To me, Park Kitchen is one of the best restaurants in Portland.
      We’ve only been three times as well but have not had issues with the service.
      In fact, everyone was very friendly.
      The food is just phenomenal. If we could afford it, we’d eat here much more often.
      Our last meal there was our wedding reception, and the food blew everyone away. Fresh, seasonal, amazing flavors. We had things off the tasting menu that we wouldn’t have necessarily ordered, but then were so glad we got to try. Seriously, it was so incredibly good.
      I can’t say enough good things about this place, and I can’t wait to go back.

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