Former Sel Gris owner Joan Dumas has partnered with Daniel Mondok’s former sous-chef Trent Pierce to open a seafood concept called “Fin”. The restaurant in the old Sel Gris space at 1852 SE Hawthorne will be reopening shortly. As usual for a new restaurant, Trent has already hired away staff from other Portland chefs, so it seems close to launch. Joan has registered the domain name http://finpdx.com, though the site has not been built as of this writing.
Something tells me that seafood is going to be the next “big thing” in Portland. A few months ago, OregonLive ran an interview with Vitaly Paley, where he mentioned he would like to open a seafood restaurant –
I would love to do a fish house. There’s no good seafood place in Portland. And I’d like to come in and show that we do have a bounty from the sea.
Kim: And it doesn’t have to be local. We want to be able to get stuff from all over.
Vitaly: There are plenty of sustainable items we can explore from around the world. I don’t know if we would ship directly, but there’s a monopoly of seafood companies in Portland, and unfortunately they are not the best if you compare the quality of what else is out there. And the same way we have been supporting local farmers, I would like to explore new ideas with seafood. We need to look past halibut and salmon.
Updated: letter to Sel Gris customers:
Dear Friends of Sel Gris,
Nearly seven months ago, sel gris was affected by fire and smoke damage.
Although the fire originated in our neighbor’s space; our meltdown became significantly more difficult to overcome due to the prolonged repairs of our shared ceiling and adjoining walls.
Of course, the most important aspect of this incident is that no one was physically hurt, and for that, we are grateful. The real downside of this unwelcome event was watching our impressive and talented staff become instantly unemployed – we all were in a bit of shock – one day we were in business, the next day we were closed.
Close to three seasons have passed, weeks have turned into months and with mortgages to pay and families to feed, it became evident that Chef Mondok and the entire staff had to move on. Please know we tried very hard to defy the odds against us, but obstacles kept mounting, and we soon realized it was improbable that we could put it all back together the way it was. Hard as it is to let go, we had to make the decision to accept sel gris as a fond memory.
Last fall, my former partner and still good friend, Chef Daniel Mondok, joined forces with the restaurant group, ChefsTable. He co-partnered to open the successful Foster Burger in December, 09 and he continues to entertain a number of options.
If we are lucky he and his new team of partners will find the right location to launch a new fine dining restaurant so we will not have to miss his cooking talent too much longer.
It is said that with every end there is a new beginning, so I am excited to introduce you to FIN, a new seafood restaurant which is in the works for a summer opening in the former sel gris space. Chef Trent Pierce and I think this new concept will suit the neighborhood, the new economy, and hopefully bring a fresh and dynamic eatery to the Portland community – stay tuned!
On behalf of Daniel, and the entire sel gris staff you came to know, we truly thank you for all your thoughtful and encouraging emails during our closure.
Should you have gift certificates you want to redeem, please contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will work with you individually to see that you are reimbursed.
With kind regards,
Who has Trent hired and from where?
Food Dude says
I’m unable to say at this time.
garden girl says
Hmmm “Fin” means “End” in French, as in “The End”. Not a particularly auspicious name for a new restaurant.
Food Dude says
Exactly what I thought, thus my post yesterday, but this is from a very good source.
Speaking of seafood in Portland, does anybody know anything about Cabezon at NE 52nd and Sandy? From their website I see that they opened in December, but I can’t recall seeing a restaurant at that location (and I drive by their at least once per week).
Cabezon is actually on Sacramento, which is a little side street just off Sandy. The restaurant is easy to miss if you’re not looking for it (and maybe even if you are). I have been twice, and I was actually going to write something about it when I read the comments below and before I saw this one because I think it speaks to what Brooke and Aaron touch on. Cabezon advertises itself as a seafood restaurant. It has a fish logo, a retail seafood counter that is open during the day, and highlights the cioppino as a house specialty (or at least a permanent fixture on the menu). But if you look at the rest of the menu, it is not dominated by seafood at all. There are at least as many non-seafood main courses as there are seafood ones, and I would say that at least two thirds of the salads and appetizers are seafood-free (I would actually do a count, but their website is down right now). This is not a criticism of the restaurant. Most of what I ate/tasted the times that I was there was perfectly yummy, but it does spark my curiosity about why this would be the case. I don’t know whether it’s a supply issue or simply a choice on the part of the restaurant.
Food Dude says
Interesting. Thanks for filling us in.
Interesting comments from the Paleys, at a time when local fishermen need our support more than ever. I’m not sure how the Paleys are defining “local seafood,” but it is worth expanding that definition to “West Coast” so that we can continue to support the fisheries economies in the US. I completely support new seafood restaurants in Portland. It’s always so shameful when I have out-of-town guests who want to eat seafood, and I can’t come up with a good spot to take them.
Although it ultimately never panned out, a few years back Marco Shaw wrestled with the same issues while planning a seafood place in Vanport Square (the space is now Curious Comedy). His feeling was that while there’s certainly some amazing fish & shellfish from the upper west coast, it was a bit too limiting to create a vibrant menu that would attract diners more often than just a couple times a year. I LOVE all the salmon, halibut & scallops we get directly from fisher-friends working Alaskan waters, but the diversity does pale compared with what I grew up with in Florida.
I think NW forests are the grandest in North America, but a 30×30 area in a NE forest has more diversity than a 3,000 acre forest in the NW…
Good points both. And BP is doing their best to level the playing field between east and west coast with regards to oceanic biodiversity, so there’s hope yet.
While the diversity does pale in comparison, there are more local options than end up on a lot of menus. We have great local rockfish, black cod, petrale sole, bay shrimp, mussels, oysters, in addition to the crab, halibut and salmon. I am sure there are more. They usually end up as specials on menus due to availability, unlike salmon and halibut and crab which are almost always easy to get around here. When Toro Bravo does the whole sole, order it!
In fact, I encourage everyone who likes fish to order these specials when they appear and send a message that we want fish other than halibut and salmon (which I also like, but like many of us get bored with ’em). Really, don’t you think most chefs want to work with something else for a change?
Always used to amaze me at the counter at Newman’s that even when told the petrale sole came in this morning, most folks would still get the halibut from yesterday (which was perfectly fine). Not me, I’d opt for the sole! Heck, even Linda Brand Crab at the Farmers’ Markets usually has 3 other fish choices other than halibut and salmon, and usually mussels and/or oysters in addition to crab. No, not the diversity of local FL, not by a long shot, but we could do better and don’t.
There is a need for good seafood restaurants here and I’m sure that I will be trying Fin when it opens but more important is the fact that Daniel Mondok needs to get back in a kitchen where he’s making more than burgers. Sel Gris will be greatly missed!
Food Dude says
Daniel Mondok is moving into the old Carlyle space. I’m told the contract was signed this week.
Cool, thanks for the update!
If only every company that has ever sold anything “footlong” could sue Subway… apply their own sick logic to themselves. Next they will go after anyone who dares to serve sandwiches(tm), that use “bread” and so-called “lunch meat”.