Photo of Roe courtesy Avila/EPDX
Willamette Week's annual Restaurant Guide officially drops this morning, and the alt-weekly has gone decidedly upscale with its 2013 selections: Chef Trent Pierce's back-room restaurant Roe has been crowned Restaurant of the Year for its "priestly discipline to tasting plates of uncommon ambition, playfulness and invention." (In the feature, Pierce admits he'd "love" a separate restaurant space for Roe; though "I'm pretty happy where we're at." He also celebrates the honor here.) The runner-up, despite being "far from perfect in its early days," is Duane Sorenson's warm-but-sophisticated Italian spot Ava Gene's, which has matured into delivering a "hearty and comforting meal" that's often "extraordinary."
As in past years, the Restaurant Guide provides listings — with separate sections for counter-service-only restaurants and food carts, among other categories — and co-editor Martin Cizmar notes that 28 restaurants are newly on the list. And this year, there's also a superlative award: Castagna's Justin Woodward earns the unofficial award for the "Most Adventurous Kitchen" and props for its ability to metamorphose. "At Castagna, [Woodward] is cooking meals under a name people remember. But he's making something they've never tasted before."
But as Cizmar notes in the Guide's introduction, "Like the rest of Portland, we remain allergic to pretension. We still want the cozy service and $3 tall boys of the comfort-food era, but we also want inventive, refined dishes we'll still be talking about the next afternoon."
· Restaurant Guide 2013 [WWeek]
· All Previous WW Coverage [Eater PDX]