My Willamette Week Restaurant Reviews
This shabby-chic space feels like an old friend’s living room. In a flyspeck kitchen, chef-owner Amalie Roberts, the former wine director at Clyde Common, works her Mediterranean magic, assembling generous plates (a cornucopia of Manchego and cured meats, fragrant bowls of steamed mussels) for $10 or less. Sit at the Art Deco slab of bar and let bartender Russell Smith guide you. The chalkboard emphasizes affordable Old World vintages, particularly rosés. Or sip a cava-elderflower liqueur kir royale. Stunning late-summer surprises included a new pickle plate and large slabs of smoked trout beside a sunny salad of cherry tomatoes and haricots verts. Save room for the homey desserts, like the delicate plum hazelnut cake. Then find yourself becoming a regular here.
Order this: Mussels steamed with corona beans and chorizo.
Best deal: Charcuterie and cheese plate.
I’ll pass: Mixed olives, toasted pistachios (the least alluring of the snacks).
This cucina has staying power. After an 11-year, inconspicuous run in the Pearl, chef Paul Klitsie’s still at the helm. Fratelli’s Bar Dué boasts a happy hour offered not once but twice daily: first until 6 pm and again after 9 pm. Deals from the mesquite wood-fired oven include pizzas (though the green grape, olive and rosemary one lacked verve) and mix-and-match antipasti (pick the chicken-liver mousse and the better-than-hummus chickpea purée with arugula pesto). Among small plates, try the tangy, tender boar ribs; skip the porchetta sliders (all bun with little pork). The dinner menu trumpets local sources: grilled baby romaine with albacore tuna Caesar dressing, a Mountain Shadow Farms strip steak. How solid is Fratelli’s locavore street cred? Co-owner Tim Cuscaden even grows some of the produce himself, such as the beets braised with the black cod.
Order this: Braised boar ribs with balsamic glaze.
Best deal: $5 happy-hour pizzas and antipasti.
I’ll pass: Mixology (e.g., the Cello Drop) isn’t stellar. Consult the polished wine list instead.
Lunch and happy hour—that’s when to frequent the former capital of the fallen Ripe food empire. Sure, you’ll miss seafood starters (scallops with sweet corn and chanterelles), toothsome antipastos (arugula, burrata, yellow beans and grilled peaches) and heartier entrees (roasted pork shoulder with figs), but you can still sample a decent menu for a lot less cash. Try these sandwiches: peppery lamb bacon with grilled eggplant or in a BLT on the blue-plate special; roast chicken salad with Gruyère; an Italian grinder with olive dressing. Salads (watermelon with feta) seem less bold these days; most desserts don’t wow.
Order this: Any housemade pasta, like tagliatelle with lamb ragu. The smaller plate is ample.
Best deal: $6 happy-hour hamburger.
I’ll pass: Insipid soup and plain sorbet don’t beef up the lunch special. Get the sandwich alone instead.