It is now time — drumroll, please — to announce the winners of the 2015 Eater Awards in Portland. These winners comprise a diverse group of the finest and most interesting chefs, restaurants, and bartenders in the city. They've defined this year in dining, and we applaud them.
First, a quick recap: Eater's local editors in 24 cities nominated candidates for five major categories: Restaurant of the Year, Chef of the Year, Bartender of the Year, So Hot Right Now Restaurant, and Stone Cold Stunner. These awards are geared toward places that have opened in about the past year, or people who have become involved in new ventures or otherwise changed the game in that time, which is why many renowned veterans don't appear. Eater readers then voted to narrow the field to a final three in each category. From that final three, the Eater editorial team chose one to move forward. The national winners can be viewed here, but now, without further ado, here's who came out on top in Portland.
Eater Awards 2015
Restaurant of the Year
Nominees: Coquine, Holdfast Dining, Little Bird Bistro, Nodoguro, Renata
Finalists: Coquine, Holdfast Dining, Little Bird Bistro
In opening Coquine, Katy Millard and Ksandek Podbielski brought a new style of cuisine to Portland: upscale neighborhood casual. Through refined French cooking techniques, creative sourcing, and an expert wine list, Coquine has forced even hardcore urbanites to drive to its cozy Mount Tabor location.
Chef of the Year
Nominees: Doug Adams (Imperial), Aaron Barnett (St. Jack, La Moule), Katy Millard (Coquine), Will Preisch and Joel Stocks (Holdfast), and Matthew Sigler (Renata)
Finalists: Doug Adams, Aaron Barnett, Katy Millard
Winner: Doug Adams
This year, Doug Adams put his stamp on Imperial, cementing the restaurant's reputation as one of downtown's most cosmopolitan dining options. Becoming a finalist on Bravo's Top Chef placed him in the hearts of the masses, but his food would have done that anyway.
Bartender of the Year
Nominees: Jesse Card (Bit House Saloon), Lisa Hare (Victoria), Tommy Klus (La Moule), Ryan Magarian (Hamlet), and Alise Moffatt (Shift Drinks)
Finalists: Jesse Card, Lisa Hare, Alise Moffatt
Winner: Jesse Card
Bar manager Jesse Card played a leading role in creating the pedal-to-the-metal bar program at Bit House Saloon, featuring everything from exclusive barrels of bourbon to boozy Otter Pops. He also attracted a team of veteran bartenders, and his lowbrow-meets-highbrow signature is written across all of the bar's many historic spaces.
So Hot Right Now
Nominees: Farm Spirit, La Moule, Nomad.PDX, PREAM, Taylor Railworks
Finalists: Farm Spirit, La Moule, Nomad.PDX
Nomad.PDX settled into its perch above Shift Drinks to produce some of the most precise and inventive food in the city all year. It was this winning approach developed by chefs Ryan Fox and Ali Matteis that did it: Take weekly adventures in the Oregon countryside and turn them into exclusive multi-course fine-dining meals.
Stone Cold Stunner
Nominees: Hamlet, La Moule, Kung Pow!, The Green Room, Victoria Bar
Finalists: Hamlet, La Moule, The Green Room
Winner: La Moule
La Moule opened up its dark-blue mussel shell theme with Continental swagger, made all the more pronounced by an intimate menu that practically forces diners to brush fingertips, elbows, knees, etc. But at the end of the day, the old-school diner booths and Lou Reed soundtrack take effect: La Moule isn't a mussel and frites restaurant; it's a mussel and frites bar.