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Opening Report: Tracking the Dozen Restaurants That Opened in March

Lots of cheese, chocolate, and late-night eats.


BEAUMONTBatter, Griddle and Drinkery unleashed its all-day, late-night pancake and cocktail house March 1. The menu is built on batter in various forms, including hotcakes, waffles and crepes, all topped and stuffed with a wide range of sweet, savory and oddball combinations.  The 65-seat restaurant also has a full bar.

ALBERTA — Chef Benjamin Artaiz and bartender Jeremy Wilson, Ned Ludd veterans, joined forces to open their laid-back bar Donnie Vegas on NE Alberta March 2. The menu features full-size hot dogs, all at $4 or less, and range of pint-size cocktails on tap, including a Moscow Mule made with local Volstead Vodka and Rachel's Ginger Beer from Seattle. It's open Wednesday-Monday, 4 p.m.-2:30 a.m., with food and drinks available right up to closing.

SOUTHEASTBJ Smith, chef-owner of Smokehouse 21, opened his 55-seat Smokehouse Tavern March 9. The menu has the same favorites as the original, but with a few bonus items including pulled pork poutine with smoked cheese curds, weekend brunch, and (in the near future) nose-to-tail specials. The full menu is available until closing at midnight. And the cocktail menu was designed by the pros at Rum Club.

NW ALPHABET On March 13, Manuel and Leslie Recio, the duo behind Viridian Farms, launched Conserva, their little import shop dedicated to hard-to-find products from artisan producers in Spain and Southwest France. The small space is stocked with things like anchovy cream, squid ink, tins of octopus and cockles, and jars of violet and rose jams. There's also a small selection of ciders, wines and aperitifs. This spring, they're also operating a hot food kiosk at the Portland Farmers Market, where they serve up seasonal tapas using produce from the market and specialty items from their shop.

CENTRAL EASTSIDE — Gabe Rosen and Kina Voelz of Biwa opened their all-day, late-night ramen shop Noraneko on March 15. Like a traditional Japanese ramen-ya, the menu is small and tightly focused on just a few varieties of ramen, plus gyoza, Japanese fried chicken, and a chopped seasonal salad. The drink menu, however, is wider ranging, with fresh-pressed juices, house-made sodas, beer, wine, and more than a dozen classic cocktails. Best of all, the entire menu is available until 2 a.m. daily.

PEARL — Bend-based 10 Barrel Brewing opened the doors to its Portland brewpub on March 16, with an industrial-chic vibe and menu stocked with elevated pub food. On the 22 taps you'll find 10 Barrel's year-round staples, as well as more innovative and seasonal releases from Whitney Burnside, the Portland pub's head brewer who was lured over from Pelican Pub in November.

WEST END — Also on March 16, Steve Jones opened Chizu, his 18-seat downtown pitstop, where meat and cheese plates will get the sushi bar treatment. The space is too small for taps, but there's a tight selection of carefully selected beer, wine, cider, and sake that pair perfectly with the cheese.

NORTHEAST — Harvest at the Bindery opened on March 17 with vegan chef Sean Sigmon at the helm. The super-seasonal menu is plant based, free of animal products, and constantly changing. There are salads, grilled vegetable plates meant for sharing, and hearty sandwiches like smoked trumpet mushrooms doused in sherry bbq sauce and topped with slaw. Dinner brings entrees like spaghetti squash carbonara with charred cauliflower confit.

NW 23RD Blue Star Donuts opened its fourth location on March 18, bringing its chef-y doughnuts to one of the city's most popular shopping destinations. The space has the same clean, modern feel as the other three locations.

LLOYD DISTRICT Creo Chocolate, Portland's newest bean-to-bar chocolate maker, opened its new factory and cafe on NE Broadway near the Rose Quarter (OK, technically it opened January 28). Owners and former farmers Janet and Tim Straub, along with their son Kevin, work with specially selected heirloom cacao beans from a single farmer in Ecuador to make their chocolate bars, truffles, brownies and drinking chocolates.

CENTRAL EASTSIDE The Commons Brewery opened its big new brewpub on March 27, with 24 seats, 12 taps of mostly Belgian-style farmhouse ales, and a tiny outpost of Steve Jones' Cheese Bar inside. Dubbed Cheese Annex, the business within a business serves dishes like grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup, seasonal salad, fondue, and a variety of themed cheese and/or meat boards. The exclusive bread made by Little T Baker uses the same yeast and malt bill that The Commons uses for its beers.

CENTRAL EASTSIDE Trailhead Coffee Roaster and Ranger Chocolate collaborated to open Cup and Bar on March 29, a coffee roastery and chocolate manufactory with an attached full-service 1,500-square-foot cafe that seats between 30 and 40. There are Trailhead espresso drinks of course, as well as the trio of bars for which Ranger is known, but there's also sandwiches, homemade granola, chocolate desserts, donuts, and ice cream.

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