The South Waterfront can be a tricky place to open a restaurant, but Amee Finigan has two aces in the hole: insider intel and Cory Chunn, former chef de cuisine at Lincoln.
Finigan, the general manager and mastermind behind the The Groaning Board, worked at Soho, the Asian fusion spot the gastropub replaced. "I know the neighborhood and the people who live around here. Speaking to them they would tell me that something was missing, like a neighborhood pub where they can come and get a drink and a bite to eat."
So when Soho shuttered last spring, Finigan — freshly graduated from the Oregon Culinary Institute — was given the chance to open a new restaurant in its place. She took the customers' comments to heart and threw herself into opening the neighborhood joint everyone said they craved, and tapped Chunn, Jenn Louis' right-hand guy at Lincoln, to run the kitchen.
They describe The Groaning Board's menu as "comfort food with a twist." There are inventive dishes like a corned beef tongue sandwich with cornichon-caper relish and gruyere; a salad with grumolo chicory, boquerones, and crunchy bits of cornbread. But there's also more straightforward options like burgers made from house-ground meat, and chicken pot pie topped with house-made puff pastry.
To drink, there are six taps running local beers, plus about 10 more in bottles, and eight wines. Creating the specialty cocktails behind the bar is Steve Boccadoro, formerly the lead bartender at Cosmopolitan Resort in Las Vegas, who's also an Oregon Culinary grad.
The décor for the 90-seat restaurant makes generous use of reclaimed wood set off by walls hand-painted in teal and gold. In the middle is the custom-made, 10-seat communal table deemed "the groaning board."
The restaurant officially opened December 21. Come January, they'll host a grand opening and introduce Sunday brunch. And by spring they aim to start offering delivery in the South Waterfront area.
The Groaning Board's December hours are Monday-Saturday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Starting in January hours will be Monday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday brunch 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; 971-254-9785.