Maybe it's because St. Jack made such an indelible impression in the three years it called 2039 SE Clinton home, but there's something about that sweet corner spot that exudes a quaint European charm. Fittingly, just over a year after St. Jack left to make a new home on NW 23rd, another French-influenced restaurant has taken over the space.
After a brief remodel this spring, Renard, a more casual neighborhood cafe and bar, opened its doors on Saturday with an approachable, French-inspired menu of bistro classics like French onion soup, baguette sandwiches, and steak frites. Happy hour, which is available from 4 to 6 Tuesday through Saturday, is a tight selection of just what you crave: pommes frites with garlic aioli; radishes with cultured butter and fleur de sel; piping hot gougeres baked to order; and $1 oysters with mignonette and horseradish.
Co-owners Ed Thanhouser and chef Dulce Frommer (formerly of Accanto and Cocotte) say they're still in soft-opening mode, rolling out more items from the menu day by day. Most of the dinner options are available, but some dishes from the daytime menu — things like avocado-chevre tartines, and a smoked trout version of salade lyonnaise — are coming soon. And don't get too tied to one dish, warns Thanhouser. "The menu is always going to be fluid," he says. "Dulce is constantly getting excited about something and making tweaks. The daytime menu should be fairly stable, but for the nighttime menu she has lots of exciting things planned."
In two or three weeks they hope to add a prix-fixe weekend brunch with a set multi-course menu that rotates "like a supper club," he says. Although reservations are encouraged, he says guests should be able to walk in.
To drink, there's a full bar focused on classic craft cocktails with gentle tweaks, like the Slidecar made with Armagnac instead of Cognac. And coffee comes from Todd Edwards' Ole Latte: "We're his first-ever wholesale account," says Thanhouser.
Renard: 2039 SE Clinton, Portland, 503-719-7529. Hours: Tuesday through Saturday breakfast and lunch 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., happy hour 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., dinner 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., (until midnight Friday and Saturday). Closed Sunday and Monday.