Having announced plans to open Willow, a "barrier-breaking" restaurant in which chefs will serve food directly to diners, Doug Weiler (Glyph, Bluehour, Crossroads Collaborative) and John Pickett (Biwa, Ración, Bluehour, Crossroads Collaborative) will unveil their Willow pop-up at the Pearl's Bluehour this Sunday. By email, Pickett described the below menu provided to Eater as "indicative of the style of food we will be serving at Willow," and it begins to shed light on just how Weiler and Pickett aim to create what they describe as Cascadian cuisine.
Northwest cuisine has long been a hazy concept, with few chefs or critics being able to find an absolute definition, but Pickett offered insight to Eater into Willow's concept of Cascadian cuisine.
Cascadian is "a style that's cropping up throughout the Pacific Northwest," he wrote. "There isn't much of a definitive style for Portland at large. We excel at ethnic foods and do a proper job on Americana favorites, like steakhouses or the classic French bistro, but there are only a few restaurants who are aiming to define what makes a 'Portland Restaurant.'"
The food will be sourced from the Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Northern California and prepared in a way that shows new sides to the ingredients. "We tend to use a lot of repetition—beets many ways, corn in three parts, etc.—as a means of utilizing everything," wrote Picket. "If a dish calls for corn kernels, we ask, How can we use the silk? Fry it for garnish. The cob? Make a syrup and glaze some candies."
This Sunday, Willow offers the first opportunity to taste its food for yourself. Tickets for the 8-course tasting menu cost $75, with the option of adding a $30 pairing. Willow previously told Eater to expect $50 tasting menus, and Pickett said the change in price is "due to the number of courses we'll be serving" and that the restaurant still plans to roll out $50 tasting menus. In other words, this Sunday's kick-off dinner will be special.
Weiler and Pickett have not announced an expected opening date for Willow, but some details have been released to get culinary hearts pitter-pattering. It has leads on locations but nothing confirmed, and when it opens, it will offer tasting menus as well as a bar menu of "snacky bites" and filling dishes, such as braised short ribs and grits and a rotating sandwich. The focal point of the restaurant will be the chef's counter, where diners will sit and chefs will directly serve and describe each dish. Wieler and Pickett first met while working the line at Bluehour.