Six weeks after the opening of former Vanity Fair art director and Zefiro (RIP) chef Chris Israel's epically-awaited downtown restaurant Grüner, it's time to check in with a little good news/bad news. General word on the street has been that Israel's Alpine-inflected food--a wide-open geographic region which leads to a menu hitting everything from deviled eggs to pumpkin seeds to goulash to spaetzle to the allegedly unmissable fried smashed potatoes--has been keeping Portlanders happily warm these last few SAD-inflected days. Still, while word is good, word is not The Word. For the real scientific method, we turn to the internet. And, as always, leave your own experience in the comments.
The Good News: "My goulash wasn't Hungarian, but it was simply terrific with the meat melt-in-the-mouth, not stringy, and a flavor all its own. My wife's trout was the best she ever had, she said. Perfectly done, which is not easy with trout...Chef Chris Israel has done it again, created a new and exciting venue with great food." [UrbanSpoon]
The Really Good News: "The schnitzel was very good for schnitzel (it seemed to be seasoned before being battered). It was a modern twist on something that I have had 7K times... Open only two nights and things went off without a hitch. They are running very well from the get go. Service is some of the best I have had in Portland. Needless to say, I plan to become a regular." [Portland Food]
The Unexpected Hit News: "I have to say that Gruner has the best Hamburger I have ever eaten! No seriously. The bar menu Hamburger is sooo goood! I personally like simple food and this burger has it all, grass fed beef, scrumptious cheese (the two times I ate the burger it had different cheese), a slice of bacon and I confess, I slopped up the juices on the plate cause the bun is oh so great too, I am so badd. PLUS they have a decadent fried crushed potato that is out of this world gooood but probably not good for you!" [Yelp]
The Funny Moment News: "I found the staff to be very friendly, well other than the expediters, and helpful. We did had a funny moment where I got a call from the restaurant during our meal there. As we came in early they didn't mark us off on our reservation, and they were just calling to confirm we were still coming in. We had a good laugh with the manager when we cleared it up." [Yelp]
The Bad--Though Charcuterie-Specific--News: "Overall very a disappointing first visit. I expected more from the chef that brought us zeffiros. I started with the venison terrine it was over cooked under seasoned and had a waxy texture to it. My husband had the charcuterie sampler which he was disappointed with.
Next up the choucroute Garnie the pork tenderloin was so salty and over cured. part of it were like an old leather belt my husband had the house made bratwurst that were overseasoned overcooked dry and had an almost freezer burnt texture to them." [Yelp]
· Grüner [EaterPDX]