The story: Considered one of Portland’s most unique restaurants, Roe is like a speakeasy bar since it’s a tiny, intimate restaurant tucked away in the back of the larger seafood restaurant Block + Tackle in the city’s Division neighborhood. Walking to the back and behind heavy curtains, you think you’re going to the restroom but instead when you open the door you find the hidden playground of chefs Trent Pierce and Patrick Schultz.
Why I went: As my Portland trip approached, I read about Roe in GQ Magazine and promptly made a reservation. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a seat for the 7-course chef’s tasting menu, which is only provided to a limited four people at the bar at 6:15 p.m. Still, I wanted to check out this pristine seafood restaurant with Japanese touches.
The vibe: A quiet, zen-like room (seating about 21 people) with diners flushed against the walls and Chefs Pierce and Schultz heads-down working on dishes at the open kitchen behind the small bar counter.
The menu: A changing menu that reflects the seafood of the Pacific Northwest but with sophisticated touches of Japanese ingredients. Refined and restrained, the food can be described as subtle yet creative. If you can’t get a seat for the tasting menu, the only other option is the prix fixe four-course menu for $75 (wine pairing available for an additional $40). You choose between two to three items per course.
The booze: Along with the wine pairing option, there’s a well curated list of sake, wine and beer. Since I was in Portland, I decided to order a Northwest wine, getting a glass of voignier from Washington state ($16).
My favorite dish: I was impressed by the starter choice of wild yellowtail served as a tartare with white soy ponzu, yuzu tobiko and shiso. But what was the most interesting element (and why I ordered it) was the shaved frozen foie gras that was generously piled on top. The savory taste of the foie gras was a nice contrast to the fresh fish and citrusy ponzu sauce.
Insider tip: With a restaurant named Roe, makes sense that it also offers a caviar option at the start of your meal. Roe offers two types of caviar at either 1/2 ounce or 1 ounce portions. If you can afford it, go for it and enjoy the fine-dining service of the staff.
The last bite: The feel of a fine-dining establishment with knowledgable servers and exquisite plating, Roe is a unique experience that could be a sought-after spot in Manhattan or L.A., but is thankfully in unpretentious Portland.
The rating: 3.5 out of 4 camera snaps
The deets: 3113 SE Division St., Portland, Ore. PH: 503.232.1566. Open Wednesday through Saturday, 5:15 to 9:30 p.m. Reservations recommend. Major credit cards accepted. www.roe-pdx.com
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