The Oregonian's Michael Russell discovers a few disappointing "illusions" at downtown's Raven & Rose, which transforms the historical Ladd Carriage House into a restaurant that "looks less like the latest DIY Portland restaurant and more like the most expensive restaurant in Bend." Doubling down on a magical metaphor that former Park Kitchen chef David Padberg is "like a sleight-of-hand magician making the jump to stadium shows," Russell bestows the spot with a B- grade, arguing that "what worked on the small stage doesn't always translate to the large." Case in point: precise-but-skimpy salads and a flawed wood-fired menu section. ("The less said about the mussels, which arrived cold under steaming fennel sausage and stale crostini, the better.")
The positives, however, lie in well-executed applications of Northwest produce and in Padberg's array of hearty large plates, like a "moist" rotisserie chicken, leg of lamb, and, in what's called a "roadmap" to the restaurant, beef short ribs with Yorkshire pudding. "In its simplicity, quality and execution, it's a dish you might find at an unassuming — yet Michelin-starred — London pub," Russell writes. Ultimately, "unlike the majority of Portland restaurants, where entrees can play second fiddle to fussed-over small plates, Raven & Rose shines best with its larger dishes." Perhaps that's the biggest trick of all. [OregonLive]
Just six weeks after its debut, chef Eric Bechard's Kingdom of Roosevelt gets the review treatment from WWeek, where Martin Cizmar plays ball with Bechard's adventurous, experience-driven approach. Preps that "force flesh and foliage to shine — or not" lead to some uneven dishes (salt-cured lingcod, a barley pancake with rabbit blood), but when Bechard connects, he knock it out of the park: "When the scope is right, though, the Kingdom is one of the most innovative restaurants in town: a high-concept journey through Oregon's bountiful forests guided by the sort of experimental spirit seen at Aviary and Castagna."
Among the hits: a "delightful" smoked steelhead roe with radish; an "exquisitely savory" quail; and acorn dumplings that "taste like something from the magical kettle of a Black Forest gnome." Cizmar writes that the beer program could use more finesse, but ultimately, "this is Bechard as an innocent, knuckle-tatted babe at play in the wild, romping field and forest, seemingly humbled by the bounty before him." [WW]
Meanwhile, at the Portland Tribune, Anne Marie DiStefano recaps a recent omakase dinner at Micah Camden's Boxer Sushi, where "clean, delicate flavors... served to showcase texture and emphasize the freshness of the fish." [Tribune]
· All Previous Weeks in Review [Eater PDX]