Welcome to the Good News/Bad News on Taylor Railworks, the railroad-inspired, industrial palace brought to you by chef Erik Van Kley, former long-time executive chef of Little Bird; his partner Gabriella Ramos (Nostrana, Toro Bravo, Yakuza Lounge, and Le Pigeon); and Daniel Neely, former Little Bird front-of-house manager. Taylor Railworks opened last month at 117 SE Taylor St., and while citizen reviewers and food bloggers have begun to put chef Van Kley's "Borderless American Cuisine" into concrete terms, they've also been critical about seasoning. So what's the word?
The Borderless-American News: From Under the Table With Jen, Jen Stevenson writes "even the most sophisticated dish has a hint of both the homey and exotic," and Willamette Week's Matthew Korfhage describes Taylor Railworks as "a drinks-happy, open-kitchen restaurant originally conceived as an ode to roadside Americana." For instance, the buttermilk-battered fried chicken, while seeming "like a mess" on paper due to a "curry-and-mint combination," ultimately comes together, writes Korfhage.
The Over-Salted News: Pretty much no one is talking smack about Taylor Railworks, but a few citizen reviewers have complained about over-salting. "The kitchen was pretty heavy handed with the salt on the octopus and curry fried chicken dishes," writes one OpenTable reviewer, and Joe T. writes on Yelp, "Our general consensus was that the food was a little too salty, although the flavors were good."
The Seriously, Does-Everyone-Love-It News: Seemingly, yes. Of 28 Yelp and OpenTable reviews, only two reviewers gave Taylor Railworks below four stars.
The Lord-Invoking News: Seafood is huge at Taylor Railworks, with many reviewers gushing over the raw scallops with pistachios and spicy mayo. Stevenson writes, "Staunch pescatarians will be thrilled," and Korfhage nearly loses composure over the Chili Crab, writing, "Jesus Christ [...] that solid pound of half-cracked, shell-on crab serves as ground for a bowl that's a revelation in flavorful intensity—sweet and salty and spicy and singing with garlic."
The Industrial-Palace News: A lot has been made of Taylor Railworks rail-side location, and Yelper Miriam P. writes, "The industrial aesthetic takes nothing away from a warm and inviting atmosphere." Korfhage concurs, applauding the "majestically high-ceilinged, iron-and-concrete building erected in 1908."
The Un-Portland Service: Citizen reviewers can't say enough about the front-of-house. "They were on top of it," writes Tyna T. "Our waters were constantly being refilled," and the table was "reset between our small plates and large plates with fresh silverware settings. This doesn't happen at very many places nowadays." Apparently the servers even cater to requests, with BretBeall writing, "Special kudos to our server for checking on ingredients and special requests for my friends."
The Everybody-Drink News: A good portion of Korfhage's review focused on cocktails, which "are bitter and sour and almost never over-sweet, with personal touches like a near-fanatic devotion to vermouth and digestifs." Citizen reviewers agree, with one OpenTable reviewer writing, "Everything, from cocktails to dessert, was delicious and portions were bigger than expected."