Ken Forkish's insanely anticipated Trifecta Tavern opened its doors late last week, and now, here's a look inside the "baker's restaurant" that houses all the things the Beard-winning Forkish loves to eat and drink, all under one roof. "The original idea was to have a bar, a bakery, and a restaurant in three different places — together, but separate," says Forkish of the third restaurant in his local empire (which includes Ken's Artisan Bakery and Ken's Artisan Pizza). "And what it ended up evolving into was three separate things going on, but all in the same; they're all integrated more than I originally had in mind." That integration results in a grab-and-go pastry counter featuring Ken's iconic pastries and breads (open at 8a.m., five days a week), a 90-seat restaurant/tavern featuring nothing but booth seating, and a bar stirring up classic cocktails.
For Trifecta's look, Forkish turned to big-city taverns (like NYC's Minetta Tavern) for inspiration, collaboring with ReWorks' Aaron Blake and Christina Davis to execute the design. "I was really trying to build a place that had the aesthetic character and look and feel of a big-city tavern, but Portland-style," Forkish says. "I've been to restaurants all over the U.S. and Europe for the last five or six years, paying attention to a lot of details that ultimately coalesced into what we did here." In addition to those big-city booths, the space features marble counters at the front pastry case and bar, leather bar stools, and large mirrors dotting the walls.
And the menus: Former Higgins chef de cuisine Rich Meyer serves a dinner menu where a baker's touch — and wood-fired oven — is evident. Roasted veggie plates highlight things like Brussels sprouts (with chorizo and quince butter), chilled ember roasted carrots (with maple hazelnuts and sherry gastrique), and smoked farro served with roasted beets. A 18-item shared-plates "savory" menu offers dishes like rabbit fricassee; fried Alaskan razor clams; an oyster stew with bacon bread croutons; and a pimento double cheeseburger and fries (for $16; an order fries alone can be yours for $6). Those looking to go all-out meaty can order up the "big-ass steak," a 34-ounce bone-in ribeye (presumably for at least two). And as promised, Forkish has been spotted wheeling around a bread trolley through the dining room, "although right now it has a flat tire."
Meanwhile, at the bar, Laurelhurst Market alum Eric Nelson and bar manager Andy Boggs (a recent transplant from NYC) stir up a cocktail menu squarely focused on the classics (Sazeracs, Old Fashioned), complete with a section dedicated to "Eggs & Cream"-based drinks like the New York Sour, featuring Rye, lemon juice, egg white, and a spiced red wine float. Says Forkish: "I want this to be one of the top cocktail destinations in the city." Trifecta's lengthy wine list — which Forkish has been working on "for four years" — offers dozens of bottles from France, Italy, and the Northwest, ranging from a $28 Domaine de Brin all the way up to a $260 Michel Lafarge Volnay Clos des Chenes from 2009 (and that's just on the French Reds list).
Trifecta Tavern is open now. Hours: Bakery, 8a.m.-7p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. Restaurant/tavern, 4p.m.-close, daily.
· Trifecta Tavern [Official site]
· All Previous Trifecta Tavern Coverage [Eater PDX]
· All Previous Ken Forkish Coverage [Eater PDX]