After taking what seemed like 55 months to secure their space — then completing an impressively fast build-out — Ken and Jennifer Norris, the pair behind "catch-inspired" restaurant Riffle NW, will soon open their long-awaited seafood restaurant in the Pearl District's former 50 Plates space. The 85-seat restaurant (with 16 seats each in the bar and private dining areas) features its share of nautical details: much of the exposed wood was reclaimed from Port of Portland dry docks; chair backings and room dividers were constructed from refurbished sails.
Chef Ken Norris — an alumni of NYC's August — describes the concept as seafood "dishes influenced by coastal regions around the world." The opening menu — downloadable in .pdf form here — is separated into four main sections: "Raw," "Bites," "Plates," and "Supper," with the largest plates in the $19-28 price range. The five-item "Raw" menu features a half Dungeness crab and items like a "shot" of sea urchin and quail egg; similarly small "Bites" include a fair share of non-fish options, like a manchego and bacon grilled cheese (for a seafood sandwich option, check the fresh crab and pancetta on sourdough). But throughout the rest of the menu — particularly the dozen or so Plates — seafood takes center stage: whelks (sea snails) are served with garlicky crostini, octopus is paired with potatoes and chorizo, and three pasta-with-seafood options are available.
The 12-item cocktail list, by bartender-about-town Dave Shenaut, highlights the spot's in-house, hand-carved ice program. Riffle NW will debut to the public during two preview dinners scheduled for May 10 and 11: Guests can reserve spots for a prix-fixe menu of four courses (with two choices within each course) and an opening cocktail for $55. Riffle's official opening, though, is set for May 15, and hours moving forward: 5pm-midnight, every night of the week.
· Riffle NW [Official site]
· All Previous Riffle Coverage [Eater PDX]