Meriwether’s Restaurant at 2601 N.W. Vaughn in Portland has gone through more than its share of shakeups over the past seven years or so. The space is decent, though a bit awkward because of its three levels, but a big stone fireplace and hardwood floors give it a nice atmosphere, and the patio area in back is a legendary space for brunch. Despite all of this, the owners haven’t been able to hold onto any talent for long enough to allow them to put out a memorable meal. Tommy Habetz took on the chef position in late 2006, with Tony Demes of Couvron helping out in the kitchen, but in spite his proven talents, the food never seemed to match live up to expectations, and he it wasn’t long before he quit.
It is almost like the staff has been held back. There have been so many comings and goings of talented people, I can’t help but wonder if their is some truly bad management at the helm. In their dining room last year, I had the worst Thanksgiving meal of my life – it was akin to cafeteria food. Still, there was a tiny ray of hope. In early January of this year, the owners announced that they would be closing the restaurant “… to completely re-design and build a brand new kitchen. We will adding a 2nd kitchen line to better accommodate the restaurant & private events, installing a new larger wood-fired pizza oven and investing in all new kitchen equipment that will double the output capacity that we currently have.” [Emphasis mine]
I could see this going either way – maybe the design of the kitchen and the equipment were causing major problems. On the other hand, if the issues are due to some other reason, double the output capacity of a cafeteria is just more slop for the pigs. One has to wonder. A friend of mine who had a meal there after the remodel found it “pedestrian”.
Since the beginning of the year, there have been significant changes in staff. The bar manager and sommelier left in January, to be followed in April by the general manager. Now I am told that chef and partner (or former partner) Earl Hook has quit, and will be leaving shortly.
Is this restaurant forever going to follow the road of mediocrity? It sure sounds like it to me, but I hope they’ll prove me wrong.
I have heard stories for years now regarding the ownership/(mis)management at Meriwethers. They seem to go through employees like Kleenex. I think much of the problem can be attributed to the couple who own the place. They were in over their heads from the onset, and seemingly have yet to come up for air.
Sad to learn all of this… we really enjoy Meriwether’s. Has anyone visited since the kitchen re-design? Hopefully it was a change for the better.
Had a fabulous dinner 3 years ago in the back garden – encouraged friends to go. Several subsequent visits showed deterioration. Last November we dropped in for “Happy Hour”: service was rude (particularly the bartender) and food was mediocre with high prices. An embarassment to the PDX scene!
Lar Matson says
I just had eggs benedict at meiweathers and the eggs where hard boiled. When I pointed this out to the waiter he shrugged his shoulders. $14.00 for hard boiled eggs is bad
Dinner there last week qualified for my worst 10 meals of all time! At those prices maybe THE worst. The server appeared totally unconcerned at my complaint.
Thelma carpenter says
My husband and I have been frequent and loyal customers of Meriwethers over the years with occasionally an above average meal. We love The ambiance and the service.
However, today at Friday lunch the food was actually nasty. The $21.00 halibut fish and chips were presented with minimal fish and thick dough resembling that of a carnival corndog.
The $18.00 razor clams with curry sauce were parched, tough and dry; the ‘curry’ had a weird flavor that didn’t resemble any curry in past experience.
It will be difficult to motivate a return visit.
We will advise friends to go,elsewhere.
3 October 2014
PDX Food Dude says
This echos my most recent experience there.
The best meals were when Tommy H. worked there. I had friends who brunched 2 weeks ago and were sorely disappointed. It’s been off my list for a few years. Too bad, a lovely garden setting can’t make up for bad service and food.
September evening “,14;
As soon as we were seated the waitress informed (warned? ) us about Meri’s new chef. Right after that I was treated to a new drink, gin&soda. From there we waited in vain for a crumb of bread, it seems Meri’s doesnt charge enough to serve bread ,or salt for that matter. The entrees went 50/50, the lamb was fine the pasta was snatched from a lunch time food cart. Prego sauce with hamburger isnt on the menu and its does not fit the nearly $20 a plate tariff. This is where the service falls from excellent to fair, obviously the waitress could sense we were less than thrilled.The dessert special was some sort of spice cake ,fair, but the peach pie…came with a crust of leather and diced peaches (canned?) added like a garnish, a poor joke.
Earlier this spring we tried the brunch. After which we stopped at Freddy;s and bought some bacon to have breakfast at home. These two visits were the worst money spent dining in Portland in 40 years.
PDX Food Dude says