In early March, Davis Street Tavern owners Christopher Handford and Blake Smith announced plans to take over the Pearl District space formerly home to Fenouil. And in contrast to the famously haute French spot, the duo's new concept jamison — named for the adjacent square and First Thursday founder William Jamison — will embrace the popular Pearl park, encouraging a casual, neighborhood feel. "The park is bigger than whatever restaurant we're going to do," says Handford. "We want to keep it in the same line as Davis Street Tavern, that New American warm architecture... [but for] the basic design of the space, we really wanted to capture what was going on in the park and essentially put a glass box over it."
Fenouil's signature light-wood look will be replaced by what Handford calls a warmer, "industrial country" feel. Five thousand linear feet of salvaged barn wood, sourced from a torn-down barn in Beavercreek, will cover the walls, with additional farm implements — like a 100-year-old, 1,200-pound scale — providing additional decor. Tables in the 50-seat downstairs dining room will be constructed from live-edge wood, and panels that once segmented Fenouil's bar and dining rooms have come down. "The goal is, when you walk in, you can see straight through the room, and see the park," Handford says.
jamison will move the restaurant's main entrance away from its sprawling outdoor patio space and directly onto NW 11th, having people walk in through a bar area that will feature a charcuterie and raw bar (featuring oysters, sliced meats, and cheese, among other options), a large five-by-nine communal table, a living wall, and all 30 benches and seats fixed at bar height. The team will convert Fenouil's oven into a wood-fired oven — yes, for pizzas — and the spot's open kitchen will remain, with 10 bar stools at the chef's counter. The upstairs dining room will feature an additional 50 seats for wine dinners, private events, and, if necessary, guest oveflow.
Davis Street chef Gavin Ledson will spearhead the menu, which Handford describes as New American. "The goal is to be the neighborhood restaurant in the Pearl," Handford says. "We want to create a kind of depth that's accessible. So, everything from pizza to burgers to scallops to a steak to oysters — we can cook whatever we want and not have to worry about [labels]. Our goal is to still do a lot of farm-to-table stuff; we want to have great relationships with local farmers and purveyors." Handford cites LA's Gjelina restaurant as an inspiration for the menu layout: "We want it as expansive as possible. Probably at least eight different pizzas. There will be at least eight different vegetable side dishes; there will definitely be three or four meats. So, you have to put together the menu [yourself]. We're not really going for composed plates — everything's designed for sharing." And yes, brunch service will be offered.
jamison's projected opening: late May or early June.
· All Previous jamison Coverage [Eater PDX]