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Wood-fired Ned Ludd Launches Two New Tasting Menu Concepts

"We're a Pacific Northwest restaurant, and the Pacific Northwest has evolved."

Ned Ludd
Ned Ludd
Dina Avila/EPDX

"I want Ned Ludd to be here for years—even if I'm not here cooking in the kitchen," chef and owner Jason French tells Eater, and he means it: He's reimagined Ned Ludd—the restaurant equally beloved for its wood-fired Pacific Northwest cuisine and its hermit-cabin decor—annually since 2008, whether updating the menu with new global influences or swapping out dining room tables to make them more Instagram friendly. The goal is to build a restaurant that lasts.

Ned Ludd kicked 2016 off by replacing its popular Pizza Mondays with Steak Mondays, and while everything continues to be cooked in a wood-fired oven, you can now expect two unique prix fixe menus: the Tasting Menu and Family Feasts.

At $55 per person, the Family Feast is one of the most user-friendly dining experiences around: Just sit down and have the kitchen prepare your entire table a family-style meal—no thinking required. "It's all about stoking people out," says French, and he tells Eater the typical Family Feast will involve most of the dishes across the menu.

The Tasting Menu, at $75 per person, is a more traditional tasting menu format, with 10 to 12 dishes and optional drink pairings. If you arrive as a duo, you'll each receive unique dishes.

Why does French feel the need to reinvent Ned Ludd so often? "We're a Pacific Northwest restaurant," he says, "and the Pacific Northwest has evolved." On a larger scale, he points out that the restaurant industry right now is more than ever not one thing. "The dynamic quality is awesome," he says. "I mean, what is a chef, today? What does real success actually look like?"

What is a chef, today? What does real success actually look like?

With that in mind, Ned Ludd has recently spent time on the details: updating the paper used to print its menu and improving its silverware, bar stools, and tabletops—featuring the work of local craftspeople for the most part. French recently collaborated with Michigan's Virtue Cider, creating a Basque and Normandy-inspired cider that's white wine-esque (available at the restaurant). He has plans to soon add a chef's counter.

But perhaps more than anything, the biggest change at Ned Ludd seems to be French's shift from hands-on chef to hands-on restaurant owner: French tells Eater he's been enjoying a more macro approach to restaurant ownership, from thinking of the restaurant as a whole organism, not just a place that serves food, to developing more relationships in the neighborhood. He says the urge to thank his customers is his driving force.

At the end of the day, French also knows the restaurant business isn't all celebrity appearances and high-concept dishes. "I can't create unicorns and flying ponies all day," he says. "At some point, it's just putting in the hard work."

Ned Ludd

3925 Northeast Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard, , OR 97212 (503) 288-6900 Visit Website

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