After two years of planning, the long-awaited Willow tasting counter restaurant, promising "barrier-breaking" Cascadian cuisine, is one day from opening, and chef-owners John Pickett (Biwa, Bluehour) and Doug Weiler (Bluehour) reveal an especially cozy Southeast venue. "We want people to feel that we're inviting them over for a dinner party in our apartment," says Weiler, and in the airy space (formerly home to Fenrir), Willow invites guests to mingle over drinks in a sort of living room, before taking a seat at the ten-seat tasting counter.
The handcrafted tasting counter was made from a single tree, and from your seat, you'll see dishes being plated, while the majority of the cooking takes place in the kitchen in the next room. To give a nod of respect to all of the former restaurants to have worked in the space, Pickett and Weiler have repurposed some of the prior tenants' furnishings, such as the mirror behind the bar.
In addition to a hallway filled with hanging plants, photos of former Willow pop-up dinners, and hand-painted curtains, Willow has a designated salon. Its green color theme extends from a triptych painting and seating cushions, to tables made from hunks of moss-covered tree trunks. The space may be used for private dinners down the road.
Pickett tells Eater he wants Willow to be a memorable dining experience, and he says the use of the 100-year-old house as a venue shows a intimate connection with Portland's past. See it for yourself beginning tomorrow, when Willow officially opens with three-course menus for $29 all March long, as part of Portland Dining Month. You can make reservations through the website using Tock.