Whole Foods and Wild Oats Food Fight
Remember the talk about the Whole Foods buy out of the struggling Wild Oats Markets chain? Well, it appears the merger might be kaput due to government market (no pun intended) regulations, and eagle eye news sleuth Jack Bog, has an interesting take on the whole deal. Could it be a right wing conspiracy?
Jonathon Gold and Willamette Week Talk Food Writing
Did you know that the Association for Alternative Weeklies is holding their annual conference in Portland next week and that Willamette Week is sponsoring it? One conference panel description really caught our eye:
“Across the country, newspapers are dropping their restaurant reviews — and that includes some alt-weeklies. Meanwhile, reader reviews and restaurant blogs are encroaching on the domain of the professional food critic. So are restaurant reviews still worth the headache? Is the professional food critic even necessary anymore? Are there alternative ways to write about food and cover the restaurant industry? And if you are going to do reviews, what are the ethical considerations? A panel of AAN members argue the stomach-churning pros and cons. Bring your own Pepto-Bismol.”
Hmm. “…restaurant blogs are encroaching on the domain of the professional food critic.” Really? Do you think they are referring to any specific blogs here in Portland?
With WWeek editor Kelly Clarke moderating, and the fact that they managed to snag Jonathon Gold from the LA Weekly (the only person to have ever won a Pulitzer for food writing), this should make for some lively discussions.
We may need to sneak in the back door and check it out.
Ten-01 is Back in Action
It has been a rough first year for Ten-01. Originally, this was an ambitious and expensive restaurant, with one of Portland’s priciest menus and pricey Pearl district location to match. It also got repeatedly slammed in the media, including one of the most scathing reviews from a local paper we have read in quite a few years.
But it looks like Ten-01 might have really pulled it together. We attended their private Preview Dinner this week, and were impressed. Ten-01 didn’t hold back either, serving seven decadent courses, coupled with very well thought out wine pairings for each course. With new chef Jack Yoss (former executive chef at W Hotel restaurants in LA, and Food and Wine ‘Chef of the Year’ nominee in 2004) as well as rising star sommeliers Erica Landon and Savanna Ray , the restaurant looks poised to once again be a contender in the fine dining category in Portland. So how was the food? Outstanding. We’ll have a complete overview next week.
I’m glad to see Ten-01 making a turn around.
More Daily Café News
We were wrong about the new Daily Café coming to the South Waterfront – as a few here pointed out, it’s already there. I jumped on the old bike and cruised up there last weekend. Apparently, it is hidden in the OHSU medical building next to the tram. Here’s a bit more Daily Café news to make up for my mistake. Food In Bloom (the owners of the Daily Café ) are remodeling their “lunch counter” at Montgomery Park into yet another Daily Café.
Cupcake Jones is going in next door to the new Ben and Jerry’s in the Pearl District – 10th and Hoyt st. Cupcakes anyone? Hmm… reminds me of an old girlfriend.
What happens when you send an email to around 10,000 people stating your restaurant is open, and then don’t staff up? A disaster! After hearing nothing but glowing praise for the new Clyde Common on Stark street, I got a barrage of angry emails this week. Tales of hour waits between appetizer and entrees.
Fox Tower Redux, and Other New Restaurants
NW Hayden is opening Tondero in the Fox Tower on Sept 1. Formerly known as working name: Basante. Tondero will feature Latin fusion food — small plates, big flavors, colorful cocktails, and a ceviche bar on the first floor. The owners are making interior changes that will make the space more accessible, lively and fun including the upstairs Bongo Bar. Menu, low to moderate price range.
More Indian in Portland. NW Tandoor Indian Kitchen has opened at 406 SW Oak St. Not sure of their regular menu, but they do have a lunch buffet.
Another opening, The Manhattan Café ;, is going in on NE Broadway between Thatch Tiki Bar and Pour Winebar.
Finally, we have a new Pizza restaurant opening next week at 28th and NE Glisan. It is called Dove Vivi (where you live). “It all begins with the cornmeal crust- crisp and light, but rich and buttery. The toppings are all prepared in house, many rotating seasonally, and featuring such things as homemade fennel sausage, mushrooms in a wilted parsley-thyme marinade, roasted eggplant, blue cheese, fontina, and provolone. A real show-stopper is the fresh corn pizza, starring snipped chives, balsamic marinated roasted red onions and smoked mozzarella.
Regarding Clyde Common, we enjoyed dinner there tonight. While this was our first visit, we were impressed by both the food and the service. I actually remember thinking that they had a pretty sizable staff given the space and the number of patrons. As for the food, the hangar steak was just outstanding. We also very much enjoyed the carrot gnudi. Learned tonight that they’ll soon be open for dinner 7 days/week, and also for lunch. As a downtown worker, I’m all in favor of having some more than just passable eateries for lunch options.
Wait, I thought, in your words:
Accepting private invites to restaurant fluffings now? Sounds like it worked.
Food Dude says
I’m still anonymous, but that doesn’t stop me from going to press events, or reporting on them fairly. If they are good, I’ll say so. If not, I’ll say that too – look at Terroir. In this case, I won’t be the one writing about the Ten01 dinner.
Regarding the ‘plot’ to block the Whole Foods aquisition of Wild Oats: the owner of Whole Foods is a major donor to the Republican Party.
Dude, a follow-up question, if I may: If you’re unknown to all these restaurateurs, how do you get invited to all these “private” dinners? (I’m on Ten01’s mailing list, and I sure didn’t get any invitation to any private seven-course preview dinner this week!)
papaki, i second that. how ya swinging the invites, are they sending FD the invite or your anonymous alter-ego? i’m guessing FD and right there proves that all the folks at WW and other papers really do have competition from this site, as if we all didn’t already know that.
as for clyde common – it’s just like portlanders to get all excited and tell all their friends how great a place is and then complain that this great place is so busy they couldn’t get in or couldn’t get good service. give me a break. if you’re that good, people are gonna line up and then of course you’ll be waiting. that’s what makes the vibe of the place seem so much fun which goes to the whole experience. btw, ate at CC again last night and it was pretty good. i’d say they are quite consistent already for such a new place, always a good sign. their fishboard is the best new idea in portland dining this year, for sure.
Food Dude says
We get press invites to just about everything. That is how we are able to bring you all those breathtaking descriptions of places like Pinocchio, report on various wine dinners, Taste of the Nation, etc. I rarely go myself, but use it as a way to give back to the various writers who contribute to this site. I also get an amazing amount of invites given to me by other people that know people… and sometimes get invited by people who don’t know who I am.
PorkCop, quit blowing my cover! (though I appreciate you saying “portly” rather than fat.)
Plaid shorts perhaps?
I was walking by Clyde Common the other day and the crush of humanity in combination with the communal tables totally turned me off. However the menu sounds intriguing and I love the font they use for their name on the window! Will definately try it sometime. Anyone knows when the delicatessen is opening around the corner from Clyde?
The camera is small and discrete.
We had dinner for the second time at CC last night, and for a Friday night I thought the place seemed rather subdued. We sat upstairs this time at a private table and had a pretty nice view of the action below. Again, the service was good and the food was excellent.
The two times we’ve been to CC the room wasn’t particularly busy so I find it suprising to read all these reports of a packed house and poor service. I guess it’s all in the luck of the draw, but we’ve been fortunate to have had a positive experience both times we’ve been.
Not unlike Le Pigeon when they first opened, we intend to enjoy this place now until the word gets out and the food lemmings arrive.
Look for Kenny & Zuke’s deli to open around Labor Day.
I ate at Clyde Common last night and it was fantastic. We had the radishes, wild shrimp on bacon (their bacon is soooo good), carrot gnudi and steak. we also had the cheese plate. The cheese plate was so so as the cheese goes, but the fig/honey/walnut combo was great.
Also the bartender served up some great cocktails!!!
I ate at Clyde Common last week. No service problems at all; in fact, the servers were friendly and knowledgeable, and the place was near-empty. (A good thing, because the place settings at the communal tables seemed awfully tight — like coach-class airline tight — and I don’t think I’d like to eat trencherman-style when it was busy.)
Food and drinks were excellent start to finish (with one small exception). I’ll be back soon, but next time I’d like to eat on the “balcony” with a private table. Does anyone know if they take reservations specifically for those?
A plea to all restaurants: Stop oversalting the f**** food. I understand (as an amateur cook) that salt brings out flavors, but when all you can think is “SALT” when you taste a ribeye (yes, since you asked, it was 23 Hoyt earlier tonight) then there is too much salt in it! It’s not an isolated incident either, Why, oh why? Do patrons like that? Do you cooks actually decide beforehand how much to put in, or is it random? Who decides?
Since I am venting, where can I get a steak at the level of Craft Restaurant in New York? (So far, all steaks I had in pdx restaurants are inferior to what I can get from Wholefoods and grill myself)
Oh, 3 months of Rhubarb is enough (March to May). I understand we need to use what’s in season, but please move on, it’s almost July!
I feel much better now, thank your Food Dude!
I don’t know, FD. I’ve done the same thing. I’ve sent along invites to other bloggers I respect, PortlandFood moderators, etc. But then, I’m not posting previews of the places on Extramsg based on those. Nor am I making your claims about purity.
I just think it’s a little hypocritical. It sounds like an end-run around anonymity and your stated goals of avoiding conflicts and special treatment. I may not agree with you on the need for anonymity, but I respect the efforts to aim towards an ideal — when you stick to that ideal. Why not have restaurants send you gift certificates instead of soliciting readers for free meals?
Food Dude says
glad to help Nikos ;>)
Some comments about Clyde Common:
I talked to them today trying to decide if I wanted to head downtown for dinner with all the Rose Festival mayhem (I decided not to because of parking). They said they haven’t had a wait yet. So it can’t be THAT busy.
Second, they do have some non-communal tables upstairs, including several two-tops. They also have some counter spots. Also, the one time my wife and I ate at a communal table there, we were sat several seats away from anyone.
Third, our goal with Kenny & Zuke’s is to start training/testing/soft-opening around Labor Day, probably actually opening later in the month. But it won’t be until late July until we have a good sense of the actual opening date.
Lynn S. says
FD, I’ve offered before and I’ll offer again: I can get you into the Blogads network. You approve every ad–nothing appears randomly–so you could reject sponsors you feel are inappropriate or jeopardize the site’s integrity. You know how to reach me.
We are overdue to contribute to your cause, but I have the computer geek’s hatred of Amazon. Ever since they amended their terms of service to declare my information an asset they can sell in bankruptcy or takeover, I refuse to use them. Do you have any other methods for payment?
Food Dude says
Mateu, your wish, my command. Paypal didn’t used to allow names like Food Dude, but I checked again and they do now. I’ve switched over to their system. I never really liked the Amazon thing either.
Food Dude says
Thanks Lynn.. I just hate adverts cluttering up the page. One of these days I will though. I need to set it up so people coming via search engines get the ads, and others don’t.
Food Dude says
Nikos, by the way, I feel your pain with the salt. Had a perfectly cooked hanger steak last week that had so much salt it burned our mouths.
Hey FD, $20 headed your way via PayPal. (Had to do 2 $10 donations) Thanks for all the work you do on this site, it’s a lot of fun to read and contribute.
Pearl Insider says
I tried the new NW Tandoor Indian Kitchen spot you mentioned, FD.
I had the lunch buffet ($7.99 for all-you-can-eat, or $5.99 to-go). At first, I wasn’t too impressed. The buffet is small and I started to worry when I didn’t recognize some of the food items. (I’m not exactly the most adventurous eater out there – more like a creature of habit that finds something great and eats it 10 days in a row…) Luckily, I was wrong to worry about the unfamiliar items. I sampled a bit of everything and it was all pretty darn good.
They had a dish called “butter chicken” – I don’t know how it got that name, as it didn’t taste “buttery” – anyway, it was delicious! I kept going back for that one. But the absolute best part of the meal was their bread. They delivered a basket of flat bread to the table that was easily the best flat bread I’ve ever had… somewhat crispy on the outside, like a tortilla, but really flavorful. The owner (I think?) came over and offered me some garlic flavored bread as well, but I was too stuffed by then. He also suggested I try their desserts and brought me a small bowl of a warm tapioca-like soup. Again, I worried that I’d hate it, but I LOVED it. It consisted of a warm, white broth with a slight cinnamon flavor, tapioca balls, small spaghetti-like noodles, raisins and cashews. I’m very glad I tried it.
On top of the good food, the people who work there were extremely friendly.
Thanks for the reminder Food Dude- I’m sure lots of us forget just how much of your time and effort (not to mention your bank account and waistline) go into keeping us informed, entertained, and interested! And the PayPal link is really easy to use- you don’t even have to be a member or have a password to make a contribution. And- sorry- every now and then we LIKE to hear you beg!
Sir Loins says
Check out the latest Genoa menu; the Second Course offerings are particularly interesting. Should Ned Elliott expect to receive a late night “message delivery” from a “friend of the Vatican”?
Every time we have eaten at Clyde Common the service has been excellent. Friendly knowledgeable staff, excellent service. In opening they seem to have had very slow days and recently busy ones. I’m sure it is has been a little hard anticipating staffing needs. Last Monday we were there and it was packed, which seemed surprising, but we were actually amazed how fast our food arrived.
Needless to say everything was delicious.
I checked out DOVE VIVI (on 28th & Glisan) on their opening night and was so excited to welcome this great new restaurant into the neighborhood. The pizza is delicious and I had to go back a couple days later to try it again. The flavors are fresh and unique- where else can you get cornmeal crust pizza? I highly recommend the corn pizza with fresh corn just off the cob, the eggplant with blue cheese pizza and the spinach pesto pizza. My friend had the roasted chicken and this was moist and flavorful and the zucotto cake for dessert was equally delicious. The space and staff are welcoming and comfortable and clean and it shouldn’t be missed!
I’ll second the praise for Dove Vivi. Their sausage is made in-house and it is delicious, just the right amount of caraway. The owners are sweethearts and their product is really unique and well done. I wish them great success.
The above two posts read suspiciously like shills, but I had the sausage pizza tonight from Dove Vivi and it was indeed quite good. It’s interesting that they are avoiding the “Chicago-style” moniker because that’s exactly what it is: cornmeal crust, no sauce, seasoned tomato chunks on top of the other toppings. Bonus points for being open on Sunday.
I finally wandered in to Dove Vivi last night to find out what the new addition to our neighborhood was all about, and as I made my way home, stuffed to the gills and wiping cornmeal crust crumbs off my collar, I sent thanks to the Pizza Gods. Their pizzas are fresh, unique, and the four-cheese slice I started with was absolutely delicious. I was also thrilled with my salad – HUGE and piled high with beets, blue cheese and walnuts. The vibe is mellow and friendly, a perfect addition to the area.
Wow – Dove Vivi is incredible. I’ve had it several times now and I can’t wait to go back. Fresh ingredients, nice owners, and they did a really nice job on the space, using lots of reclaimed materials. My only complaint is that their sign is very difficult to read, so I worry that people will miss out on this amazing treat. I hope you review it soon so that more people can support this very worthy business. Yum.