Interesting new places on the horizon:
Soluna Grill will open in the old Fife location. According to the website, it is being opened by Dan Straub, a chef with a wide-ranging experience. The food looks like it will be a mixture of small plates and grilled items, though the menu shows a bit of incongruity, with selections ranging from the expected salmon and strip steak, to Asian beef short ribs, chicken Thai stir fry, penne pasta, and enchiladas. Straub is new to Oregon, and the menu is just a sample at this point, but I worry that he doesn’t quite get the food here. On the other hand, it might be just the thing to appeal to the neighborhood, so who knows. They open September 1st.
Branch Whiskey Bar opened in the space recently vacated by Alberta Oyster Bar. They are focused on Bourbon drinks, though of course have a full bar. Food is not the primary item, but they have a varied selection of small plates like a duck confit hash, house charcuterie, and a burger. So far, only one item is above $10.00. It sounds like they will expand both the cocktail and the food menu over the next few months.
Finally, Free House Bar (or at least that is what it is called on the alcohol permit) is coming to the old Bodega Wine Shop space on NE 13th and Fremont. I haven’t found out a darn thing about it, but the space is nice, and they have a great little patio in back.
According to Kathleen at Good Stuff NW, MIX Magazine, the Oregonian’s food spinoff, is going to ten issues a year. Glad to hear. Martha Holmberg is doing a great job, and the issues I’ve seen have gotten better and better.
Elias Cairo is leaving Castagna to do meat curing for Olympic Provisions. It’s going to be tough to fill those shoes which were tough enough to fill after Kevin’s departure. I worry about what is going to happen there.
Something tells me 2010 in Portland will be the year of the charcuterie. There has been lots of talk in the food community about the new trend towards retail charcuterie. At this point Federal inspectors are few and far between, but there is worry that by having a retail charcuterie, inspectors will follow. Most local charcuterie doesn’t meet fed standards, as those standards can result in inedible food. I can’t help but wonder if it can thrive in an environment where the feds may make their presence known.