NE Alberta's Aviary has literally risen from the ashes — in more ways than one. During its annual "Secret Supper" last night, Willamette Week officially named the spot its 2012 Restaurant of the Year, with its trio of chefs — Sarah Pliner, Jasper Shen, and Kat Whitehead — sharing the honor. NE Fremont's similarly Asian-ish Smallwares was crowned ROY runner-up.
After setting the city ablaze in a very short time with such delectable dishes of strips of crispy pig ear served over a bed of coconut rice, Aviary was literally set on fire last summer after being bombarded with errant July 4th fireworks, and re-opened last December. During last night's Secret Supper, attended by around 40 guests, editor Ruth Brown explained the choice, saying that the spot offered "some of the more interesting dishes in Portland" that might not be for everybody — "and that is exactly what Portland's dining scene needs." In Smallwares' write-up in the guide, chef Johanna Ware gets similar praise for her ambitious food: which is "good enough to change how Portlanders look at unfamiliar dishes."
Image of Aviary courtesy the Eater archives