Oregon is home to a lot of restaurants, bars, wineries, and breweries, but there are tons of hidden gems that the majority of Portlanders aren't unearthing. To help guide us to these potential discoveries, we've enlisted some of our city's many food players to share their recommendations for a weekly feature dubbed Dining Confidential.
Photo of Lair Hill courtesy Facebook
Originally from Arizona, Roscoe Roberson got his start in the culinary world in Tuscon, training with Serge Delage at the Westin La Paloma Resort. In 2005, Roberson moved north to Bend to become the executive chef at Kokanee Cafe before relocating to Portland in 2011 to work with the ChefStable Group. Since his start with ChefStable, Roberson has been instrumental in opening several projects: he was opening sous chef at Racion and will soon serve as executive chef at ChefStable's upcoming SE project, Coopers Hall. But when Roberson needs to really unwind, you might find him hiding out by himself at SW's hidden and "wholesome" Lair Hill Bistro.
Sometimes a dinner for one on a rainy evening is just what you need to decompress after a long week in the kitchen. You don't feel like cooking, yet you've eaten your fill of pho and tacos for the month and you just need some solid comfort food. Sometimes I sit at the Lair Hill Bistro and sometimes I'm the only one there. I sit at a table at the window, where there is a little lamp next to bookshelves full of oddities and perhaps a dozing cat. It's cozy. The bar is amazingly ambitious and well-stocked for a small cafe, and the bartenders are friendly yet understanding of your need for a quiet meal. I always get the meatloaf and potatoes usually replete with the usual vegetable suspects. It's wholesome and underwhelming in a very welcome way. There are also the breakfast hours where the space is transformed, buzzing with caffeine and rustling newspapers. In the summer there are seats outside and it feels the very epitome of neighborhood cafe. I usually grab a breakfast sandwich, a cup of Joe and I'm in and out, on my way to work quickly. The Lair Hill Park is nearby, making it a great place to grab a bite and picnic in the park. On nights I just want a few cocktails at the bar, it's a perfect low-key experience. Sometimes a quiet spot is all you need to dine alone, and in a pinch you will at least have the cat to keep you company.