Ración has been doing a series of press/test dinners, and we were happy to get an invite.
The space is sexy, but not pretentious, anchored with a show kitchen surrounded by an 18-seat L-shaped chef’s counter wrapped around the kitchen stage – at once both theatrical and intimate. It is fun sitting and watching the open kitchen. There is a lounge area in the back which is clubby and casual with low sofa seating, a bar and a few tables. There is terrific light from the wall of windows on the South side, which also is a great place for people watching.
The Spanish influenced menu is limited to a 7-course $75 tasting menu, or a 5-course $50 tasting menu. Wine pairings are available for $35 and $25 respectively. Six or so tapas are also available in the lounge.
Here are the items we sampled:
Halibut cheeks, black sesame, green apple, sour cream and shiso. Shredded halibut cheeks and green apple with a tasting of sour cream ice-cream.
Sous-Vide egg, hazelnut romesco, brussel sprouts and brown butter.
The tapas on the menu (see website) are limited but offered as $4 each, or a choice of 3 for $11 or 6 for $21. We sampled:
Serrano ham, almond cracker + sherry gel.
Milk puff, piment d’Espelette and sea salt. Imagine a miniature merengue cookie, but savory milk flavor.
Marinated Manchego, Sangria Marshmallow, & quince jelly. A nice flavorful spoonful playing off each other to create a nice pop of flavor.
You can see the entire menu on their website.
Ración is a new concept for many diners in Portland. The big questions are, will locals embrace this style of dining, and will the restaurant do the concept well enough to compete with the same style of food in DC, NYC or Chicago. They are going to have to be careful not to get so full of themselves that they alienate customers. This is going to be an interesting experiment to watch. The restaurant opens March 7th.
Racion is at 1205 SW Washington St., Portland OR. (971) 276-8008. A credit card will be required to make a reservation, with a $50 fee per person for less that 24 hours cancellation notice.
Gary Okazaki says
I don’t believe Racion has to compete with restaurants that are doing similar concepts in DC, NYC, or Chicago. But the key is whether PDX diners will embrace Chef Cafiero’s style of cooking; I really hope they do. Portland needs innovative restaurants, and with Racion, Levant, Kingdom of Roosevelt, and Roe, PDX is truly becoming a well-rounded culinary destination.
Had a lovely dinner there on Sat. The $25 wine pairings were a great deal, and I loved that halibut cheek dish described above. Also had a great cauliflower panna cotta with trout roe, salad and shaved foie gras torchon that was a standout. Liked the space a lot. Nice that they have a non-alcoholic set of pairings too – I tried the house made root beer which was fantastic.
This is really good food – great ingredients, thoughtful preps, great play of textures – and it is also interesting. It’s not using modern techniques to call attention to itself as such, it’s using those techniques to bring something extra to the dishes that make them something more than the sum of their parts. It’s not pretentious, and the chefs aren’t either…and I think that Portland is the right place to pull it off.
Kurt Huffman has made a silk purse out of the sows ear that was Corazon. And there will soon be a third restaurant – one in the space between Lardo and Racion…I won’t be surprised if it is a big hit too.
I like their Reservation Policy. Majority of Restaurants loose expensive real-estate at the 11th hour due to cancellations and no shows.
People are so entitled now that the reservation policy may prove undooable. Most people now want what they want when they want it. If they dont get it the go on Yelp and whine like a two year old. Its gotten so bad that its not even fun to be in the business anymore.
I personally will go to a restaurant in Portland that has reservations! While we have an abundance of great places to eat – the lines are irritating. There are places I don’t even try to go to anymore because of the lines. I know they have plenty of business and don’t miss me…but I really don’t have time/patience to wait around for 30-45 minutes for brunch. I think reservations are a much more civilized way to get what I want when I want it.
To be clear. I was referring to the deposit not reservations.People should always make reservations whenever possible.It gives the house aheads up for what to expect. Unfortunately, many people could not care less about the restsurant as a business. I hope this works for them but it may turn in to a huge clusterfudge.
agreed, anywhere else but Portland that reservation policy might work. i recall someone talking about trying that here but not sure how far they got with it. castagna maybe? going to be very hard to pull off this type of restaurant here in the land of portlandia
The issue isn’t so much with the restaurants (although they are the ones instituting the policy), it’s whether or not a credit card company will uphold the charge (which i doubt). If you dispute a charge (particularly if you have a big enough credit limit and a high enough score), usually, the credit card company will side with the consumer, and not the business.