Image of Bar Vivant courtesy Avila/EPDX
The Portland Mercury's recent review — of E. Burnside's hybrid patisserie/tapas spot Bar Vivant — gets major points for Chris Onstad's opening line: "A tapas bar is meant to be a part of a continuum—one of many stops on a night's free-form ramble —not a destination. It's also meant to be in Spain, where a pub crawl isn't 10 bachelors in a molded-fiberglass charter shuttle screaming for tits and a place to pee."
But per Onstad, Bar Vivant provides a "geographically and socially" appropriate spot for a "large and vibrant" assortment of tapas. Among his favorites include a montadito of red pepper and anchovy-infused egg salad, jamon serrano, spiced octopus, and Spanish tortilla, dubbed "fork-tender and rich for its size." Onstad advocates stopping by for more than just snacks: "as a whole it's a successful execution of a mad, hedonistic, and worldly vision." [Mercury]
Over at WWeek, hired gun Michael C. Zusman visits NW's Vietnamese spot Fish Sauce, finding "the food is up and down" but still offers "enough attractive offerings to make Fish Sauce a worthwhile stop." With a fish-to-sauce metaphor firmly in hand, Zusman navigates the menu, recommending two appetizers (like the steamed-rice flour bánh bèo), two entrees (including the gà chiên fried chicken), and the deep-fried sesame balls for dessert. Less successful options "for the most part fall into common (and remediable) categories." [WW]
The second course of the WW twofer sees major consistency issues at Oswaldo Bibiano's casual Uno Mas, arguing that the spot's mini-tacos "don't really function as tacos." Charting the differences in six different trips, author Matthew Korfage alternately describes the taco's masa shells as "soaked in fat," "bone-dry and nearly saltless," "too thick," and "once... note-perfect." Fillings seem to get high marks, though, from "chicken... bathed in subtle, earthy achiote" to "rich, lovely barbacoa and bright-profile prawns." Ultimately, "each two-chomp nip is a roll of the dice." [WW]
· All Previous Week in Review Coverage [Eater PDX]