It is as he gently stirs his roasted tomato sauce that Chef Chris Thompson is struck by a sudden memory—the image of his great-grandmother Julia Iorio stirring her own sauce with a wooden spoon, the smell of roasting chicken, the chatter of his family. He smiles before turning his attention back to his sauce, spooning it generously over handmade fresine pasta and fresh meatballs. It is not uncommon for Chris to think of his great-grandmother while cooking—after all, his adventurous culinary spirit and many of his recipes came from her. Chris puts a contemporary spin on her time-honored Italian dishes, folding organic produce, local meats, and sustainable seafood into pasta, lasagna, and specialties. In doing so, he’s earned accolades from an abundance of critics, including Kat Audick from Vanguard, who described her meal as “one of the best I’ve had in Portland.”
Chris’s guests await their dishes in the warm dining room, sipping on local wines and gluten-free Harvester Brewing beers. Colorful paintings speckle the deep-red walls, and moonlight filters in through soft curtains. Throughout the year, the restaurant hosts cooking classes, where Chris teaches students how to whip up Italian dishes for their friends and family or the collection of miniature cat figurines that has replaced their friends and family.
Boulevard Grill fuses traditional American steakhouse fare with Latin flavors to create distinct cuisine in a casual, candlelit atmosphere. Patrons can sample the eatery's initial offerings such as tortilla soup dotted with fresh avocado ($9) before diving mouth-first into the menu of gastronomic creations. Protein-pining palates can nosh the succulent 8-ounce filet mignon frolicking in a red-wine-shallot reduction ($22) or sup on the stuffed chicken chaperoned by a team of apples, prosciutto, and brie ($16). Satisfy a wide range of bolo-tie styles and their wearers' appetites with fresh fish options such as the seafood rellenos, a platter of two pasilla peppers bursting with savory crab, shrimp, and scallops drizzled in a signature sauce and blanketed in a rich layer of monterey-jack cheese ($18).
Having carved out its own elegantly understated space inside the Red Lion Hotel, Willamette Valley Grill recently restyled its menu to feature appetizers, entrees, and salads beaming with the bravado of classic American bistro fare. Inspired by local and seasonal ingredients, chefs entice palates with starter dishes of steamer clams sauteed with pancetta, leeks, tomato, garlic, and wine. Velvety bowls of butternut squash and gorgonzola ravioli create a symphony of autumn flavors while aromas pan-roasted halibut and chimichurri ribeye mingle through the dining room. After dining and sipping on a range of Pacific Northwest wines, guests can trade the restaurant's tasteful ambiance for the colorful hues of an adjacent lounge.
From cracking two-row malted barley in a roller mill to carbonating at 31 degrees Fahrenheit, brewer Adam Roberts’s five-step process yields each of 4th Street Brewing Co.’s handcrafted beers. A window in the brewpub’s restaurant lets patrons take a peek at the working microbrewing equipment, which churn out the ales, porters, and IPAs that make up the five mainstay brews. Adam also crafts seasonal beer selections such as the Get Jiggy Wit It, a belgian white ale, and the czech pilsner.
In the kitchen, Chef Abe uses locally raised, organic ingredients to craft pub food that complements Adam’s beers. Those dishes include beer-battered onion rings by the pound or half-pound, charbroiled or stone-oven-baked pizzas with toppings such as IPA barbecue sauce and artichoke hearts, and a pork-fillet sandwich topped with french fries. Meals unfold in a spacious dining room where sports flicker across nine high-definition televisions and magician Brian Proctor dazzles diners every Friday night by performing card tricks and magically, with only the use of minutes, turning once hot dishes into lukewarm ones. 4th Street also accommodates private feasts in two party rooms equipped with amenities such as a 78-inch projection screen and a private bar.
The cooks at China Town Restaurant carefully pick fresh ingredients to use in their traditional Chinese entrees, striving to create healthy yet flavorful cuisine. Hot pots of stewed meats emerge from the kitchen alongside steamed spareribs and entrees with incendiary doses of sichuan sauce. Throughout each meal, servers also ply guests with small dim sum plates—including barbecue pork pies, deep-fried lobster balls, and stuffed jalapeños—from carts that navigate the dining room's red vinyl booths and warp tunnels dug all the way to China.