February 2017

When Woodford Food and Beverage opened last year I, along with half the city, went there in droves. And I dined there three times before even writing my first review. But it wasn’t until yesterday, Sunday, that I had brunch there for the first time.

It’s a great looking room with its wall of windows and the attractive bar for extra dining

Besides the restaurant’s high energy (translate: a noisy room but not in a bad way), the food by chef Courtney Loreg is exceedingly good–very competently prepared classic dishes.  It’s not the kind of cooking that will ever garner a James Beard award.  That’s because it’s meant to be a neighborhood eatery to serve locals great roast chicken, classic steak frites, a mounding burger, delicious deviled eggs and lots of other dishes that define the culinary nomenclature of inspired American cooking.  However, a year later and the restaurant’s menu remains virtually unchanged. That’s a slippery hole that many restaurants dig for themselves.  It basically put Roustabout, among other factors, out of business.  But I don’t think the same will happen at WFB because the menu is so likable and approachable. To wit–it was packed at brunch,  and on recent attempts to have dinner there I was met with the SRO of a successful, popular restaurant.

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If I haven’t posted lately it’s not  that the latest version of a lettuce wrap didn’t quite excite.  But, rather, the current flock of restaurants in Greater Portland has been covered so much by others lately that I truly wasn’t inspired to add my two cents.  Yet there were some highlights worth mentioning. Take, for example, my recent visit to Tipo, Chris Gould’s—of Central Provisions renown–new far-flung dining outpost–in an off-peninsula wilderness, a location that’s strictly neighborhood.

The dining bar at Tipo

But on the day that I visited Tipo I had also gone to Gould’s C-P for lunch and wondered why I haven’t been going there regularly, especially in the winter when the crowds are much thinner on a winter’s day lunch hour than at the height of the summer crush.

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No need to induce “alternative facts” to paint the real scene of the newly opened Izakaya Minato, a surefire example of a Japanese gastropub.  So, if you’re looking for the next big thing in Portland dining then take yourself to  54 Washington Ave. where this newcomer opened earlier this week.  It’s next door to the Tex-Mex grandee, Terlingua,  and across the street from the strip’s highly regarded darling, Drifter’s Wife.  It also sits opposite from the former Roustabout, which closed last month. Word has it that none other than the indefatigable Rooms honcho Harding Lee Smith will fill the space.  It’s unclear what culinary route he’ll take, but so far no names have drifted across the transom.  Do I hear The Washington Room?

Izakaya Minato’s open kitchen and dining bar

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