More Gotham Tavern and Ripe News
If you are interested in the saga of Naomi Pomeroy and Michael Hebb of Gotham Tavern and Ripe Restaurant Fame, the long awaited story in Portland Monthly on the Rise & Fall of Ripe, has finally hit the stands. Frequent contributor to PFD, Nancy Rommelmann wrote a lengthy piece, giving space to just about everyone involved with the story. Fascinating reading.
More news from Vancouver. Rumor has it that the Haydn Group is about to sign papers to take over
Bacchus. Marc Hosack will be departing from Hudsons to “spend more time with his children”.
The huge (7,000 square foot) Vesta restaurant in the old Fudruckers building at the evergreen restaurant is finally getting ready to open, with the date set as March 14th. It sounds like the folks behind it have assembled quite a wealth of knowledge both FOH and BOH. It will be interesting to see how it all works out.
New Stumptown Coffee in Ace Hotel
The new Stumptown Coffee has opened on SW Stark in the Ace Hotel Building (between 10th and 11th). They have obviously spent a good amount of money on this location, taking pains to blend modern equipment and touches with the feel of the old building. Overall, it’s a nice job, though there isn’t a whole lot of space to hang out. If you wander next door, they will give you a tour of the hotel. A great deal of effort being made to update everything, without changing the overall look and feel. Private bathrooms have been added to all the rooms, yet the original claw-foot tubs have been restored. Wi-fi is available throughout, a business center has been added, and they are offering very low rates for the next few weeks. It is worth going in and looking around, if you are into that sort of thing.
Lucier Upscale Portland Restaurant to Open?
Finally, there was a little piece at the bottom of the O’s Platter section that I thought was an early April fool’s joke when I first read it.
“We just learned that Lucier, a 7,600-square-foot, 100-seat waterfront restaurant, plans to open in November just south of RiverPlace in a stand-alone glass-and-steel building set among a new trio of condo towers called The Stand.
Owners Chris and Tyanne Dussin want to create a destination restaurant with views of the Willamette River and downtown. And they’re willing to spend $3.5 million to get it off the ground. Plans call for an indoor glass bridge, a canal-like water feature running around the interior and a 14-foot-high glass sculpture faceted like a diamond to separate the bar and dining room.”
Huh? Does anyone think Portland is ready for this? Does every diner really need 76 square feet of space? Does the president of The Old Spaghetti Factory have the chops to pull this off? If Pascal Chureau from Fenouil, splits his time as executive chef of both restaurants, what will happen to the quality at Fenouil? This is bound to be interesting.
Pork Cop says
It always amazed me how poor the seafood options were in Portland AND the Coast! Why? God almighty WHY ?.. is the seafood so.. well, bad? By all rights Portland should have World Class Sea Vittles….. Dunno.I hope that Marco can keep the good stuff in the coolers before it turns to bad stuff. Quite a challenge in PDX. Good luck Marco!!!
Re: seafood in Portland: Every chef I’ve interviewed for this site says the same thing: they can easily buy five great local fishes, and that’s it. The fisherman don’t fish hard for the others because they can’t move them in quantity (making it a losing proposition for them), and the chefs can’t sell them for anything near what it would cost to turn a profit. This is partly the fault of the Portland diner (not all, but some), who sniff at entrees costing upwards of $30. Ergo, no fish.
Philippe Boulet told the most heartbreaking stories about this; it’s here on the site (where he told a similar story about not being able to move turbot at the Heathman), but here’s the money quote:
“I would serve an entrée [in New York] at $45; people would not blink. When you pass a cap of $30 in Portland, people will say, ‘Wah…’ But people from Portland will go to Las Vegas and have a dinner for $600 and not think twice about it. My customers are the terrible ones, because my customers who go to France, to Las Vegas and to New York on a weekly basis; they come to have a sandwich and a Caesar salad in my restaurant, and they say, ‘You know, Philippe, six dollars for your soup; it’s expensive. Oh, by the way, I had soup at twenty-five dollar [in New York]; it was so good; why don’t you do that?'”
I stopped in the new Stumptown yesterday, and it does look quite elegant, though as you say there’s not much in the way of seating. I guess you can wander over to the hotel lobby. But it occurred to me to wonder why, since they clearly have loads to money to spend on these new places, they don’t replace the ratty, collapsing couches over at the original place on Division?
You are correct. I cant figure out why Potlanders are afraid of the $30-$40 dollar entree barrier. Phillip is correct in his quoted statement. It really puzzles me…you hear people complain about prices, yet when Oregonians travel out of town they always try the expensive restaurant choices, and RAVE about them? (on a side note, Oregonians on a whole are considered terrible tippers…also a shame )
Yet we ( especially readers of this site ) disect, and critic every item from food, to service, to temperature of food, etc. I know that I have no issues paying for quality service and food. ( I tip a minimum of 20% even with bad service – due to the servers tax structure here is Oregon. Ususally % goes up with better service, familiarity, you get 15% from me, it means you sneezed in my food, or worse… )
In my last post I brought up Oceanaire Seafood, a corporate seafood chain that I hear is looking into the Portland market ( Tom Moyers new office tower is SW is the rumored site ) . It is a big, CLEAN morphed version of Jakes ( with a 100times better wine list ). It is expensive, but good solid food. When you order the house bloody Mary, you get a huge ( 3-5 prawn ) as you drink stirer ( in lieu of the celery stick ) Yeah its a $10.50 bloody Mary, but the mongo prawn makes you feel like its worth it. Try the Seattle location, its not a bad meal….
Most people on this site probably crave and look for line caught wild Oregon Salmon. If you can still get Oregon or Alaskan wild Salmon, guess what? you better be prepared to pay $35-$45 a portion. Yeah it stinks, but thats the true economic fact.
Hell, I paid $8 for an Avocado soup at Higgins the other night. ( Avocado soup with a nice portion of Dungeness Crab , it was woorth every penney! )
I also always wondered why we ( Oregonians ) couldnt get better seafood options ( other that Jakes and PCR ) ???? I hope Marco hits a home run with his new restaurant…although really good seafood costs, and will he be able to charge that much ( especially on MLK? ) . Also why hasnt someone built the ultimate destination joint yet? Yeah I read the Oregonian. But really, combining the Spaghetti factory with Pascal Chureau? Proof is in the pudding, but sounds scary….What will happen to Fenouil/Tucci? I cant believe that Pascals doctor/$$$ angel is going to let him out of Fenouil/TUcci reponsibilities…also arent the Spaghetti factory people born again Christians???? Food Dude maybe you really did read LUCIFER?????????
Pork Cop says
I agree that the average Oregonian is a “fiscally conservative” sort. I also think that Portland, for whatever reason, doesn’t have a real seafood curiosity. It’s kind of strange being so close to the ocean.Maybe the two are related.
born agains, corporates, californians oh my! repeat as you skip thru the dark forest of dining out in portland. (I DO beleive on corps! I do I do I do!)
Marshall Manning says
If Lucier fails as a restaurant at least it sounds like it may have a second life as a waterslide park!
Count me as one who does have a hard time going over the $30 mark for entrees (whether in Portland or other cities) unless it’s something extremely special. I just don’t enjoy paying huge markups for food (or wine..which is why I won’t buy bottles off the list if the markup is huge) when there are other places that do it just as well at a more reasonable markup.
Regarding seafood restaurants, we’ve really enjoyed our fish dishes at Alberta Street, and have found them to be some of the best in the city, as well as fairly priced, too!
philippe is right when he says it is a shame that you cannot sell turbot here. newsflash, people in portland don’t know what tubot is!. they know halibut and salmon, maybe rock fish and throw sturgeon in for good measure. try sand dabs, people don’t know what they are so won’t order them. spot on with the comment about not wanting to spend money in PDX but have no problem dropping several hundred somewhere else. that is the reason, it is somewhere else. portland is still a logging town and will be for a long time. high end destination restaurant, forget about it. philippe tried before he signed on with the M&S deathstar. what happened to the dinner with philippe and friends featuring all of his high flying 3 star friends from across the pond? stumptown is just that, forget about the fancy place that cost several mil, ten01 rummored to be in that price range and look what it is. good luck to marco, but he will most likely wind up selling a lot of fish and chips and steamer clams.
meat is cheaper than fish…
unless it’s catfish, nice lovely frozen catfish
you would be suprised how many local restauants purchase frozen seafood
i’ve seen it on the truck.
the deal is most fish mongers won’t bring in the exotics…
they have to buy enough to make the air bill/order
and not every restaurant is going to buy it
it’s fresh for a day or maybe two, then what?
the restaurant pays the price, which isn’t a good deal for the restaurant or the consumer
but in the real usually fish sales are high at restaurants
compard to meat sales, well of course unless you are a bbq or steak house
I suppose only UP alumni read “Portland Magazine,” but it does exist. There is also a magazine called “Portland” in Maine. “Portland Monthly” is the one that you refer to. (Sure, it’s minor, but this place is “Portland Food and Drink,” not “Portland Food,” right?)
I’m surprised nobody has made this point yet, so I will: I think this silly notion that you can’t get good seafood in Portland is one of those urban myths, perhaps left over from the Portland of 25 years ago. I just walked by the seafood counter at Whole Foods and counted at least a dozen different varieties of fresh fish, everything from wild salmon, halibut (and halibut CHEEKS), snapper and sturgeon to sea bass, trout, ahi, catfish, yellowtail, fresh sardines, swordfish and skate wing. And that doesn’t even take into account all the different kinds of smoked fish, the variety of mussels and oysters and clams (oh, my!), the shrimp and wild scallops, the crabs and squid, or the five or six different prepared seafood soups and stews. I’ve even seen whole branzini there, flown in from Greece (and on the menu at Olea, baked in a salt crust, by the way).
And Whole Foods is hardly alone. You can do almost as well at City Market and Zupan’s and any number of restaurants. The new Hiroshi in the Pearl even has eel on its menu. Andina serves escolar. DF chops up an amazing array of great seafoods and puts them into its many different ceviches. I’ve gone into restaurants in this town, asked the waiter whether he’d recommend the wild salmon and been told, “Well, you know, it’s just salmon” (as if really fresh wild Pacific salmon weren’t the tastiest fish in the world, bar none).
Are there actually people out there who turn up their noses at this bounty because they can’t find turbot? TURBOT? If there are, well, there’s just no pleasin’ folks like that.
Cuisine Bonne Femme says
Portland Monthly On Newstands…
Got my copy today at New Seasons. Ripe article is fantastic – kudos to Nancy. It’s filled with great stories and quotes, and really captures the operatic saga that was Ripe.
Also, Food section of Magazine (which is about 75% of the magazine this month) has some great end of winter, but still too cold for spring recipes such as a Portuguese chicken and rice with chourico sausage from Dave Machado and a stir fried Peruvian beef and vegetable dish from Andina.
I think what chefs may be refering to is the difficulty of finding fish that is 1) sustainably harvested, 2) local, and 3) at a price that Portlanders will accomodate. I just did a little search at eartheasy.com and found that many of the fish you found are on the “best to avoid” list: Atlantic halibut, red snapper, wild sturgeon (they suggest farmed sturgeon as well as farmed catfish), sea bass, yellowtail flounder, Atlantic swordfish (with Pacific swordfish listed as “Moderate Risk”), and skate, among many others. Our oceans and rivers are a mess due to “unsustainable fishing practices and habitat destruction”.
I’m no expert on this subject, and not sure how to feel about farmed fish, either–the thought of farmed fish escaping into the wild seems a lot like Monsonto seeds infiltrating organic farms–sometimes I get so confused I go buy chicken, and that has its own issues.
Many chefs resort to shipping in sustainably harvested fish from far away, but then there are issues of fuel conservation. Twenty years ago “imported” was a selling point, now we’re more sensitive to the fact that flying in fish from New Zealand means we depend on oil to get it here.
So chefs have to weigh how delicious the fish is, how it was harvested, how far away it is, and which companies to support. For instance, we can help Katrina victims as well as the health of the Gulf by choosing to support sustainably harvested shrimp from New Orleans (even if it is Ash Wednesday). I haven’t lived in Portland since the summer, but New Seasons does a pretty good job of labeling their fish, don’t they?
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of politics to consider when it comes to eating. And local salmon is no exception. I’m sure someone else could write better than I about the issues of the Columbia and the people trying to make a living from it.
Hey chefs, what fish do you want us to order?
Disclosure: I’m a friend of Nancy’s…but her dissection of the Hebberoy collapse in the March issue of Portland Monthly is one of the very best pieces of food journalism I’ve read in this town.
I’d take exception with Cuisine Bonne Femme’s characterization of it as “operatic” – it’s more like “The Music Man” of SE Water Ave. And it says as much about Portland (and Portlanders) as it does about Michael Hebb, the Mark Kostabi of the local food world. Great stuff, Nancy.
Pork Cop says
One big difference …Mark Kostabi has talent.
Cuisine Bonne Femme says
And he knows how to turn a profit…
“The Music Man of SE Water Ave” Bloody Brilliant
Still, the Ripe story could make a great musical.
Pork Cop says
Didn’t Harold stay in River City (hmm) and deal with the consequences like a man?
What Magazine are you referring to? I thought NYT, but mine this week is all about Toyota.
Erin – “Food section of Magazine” that CBF refers to is also, Portland Monthly, March 2007 issue.
Cuisine Bonne Femme says
Yeah, like Nancy Said.