After its sister restaurant, North Light, recently shuttered on N Mississippi Avenue, SE Clinton's Night Light Lounge is undergoing a revamp. "As anyone who's lived in Portland for over a year can tell," says Tony Evans, who took over last month as executive chef at Night Light Lounge, "this neighborhood is changing fast. We're not going to be pushed out of Portland like so many other great restaurants and bars to make way for sterile, risk-free, IKEA-laden, and unsubstantial establishments."
Evans took the first step to accomplish his mission last night: Releasing dinner and late-night menus with new and revamped dishes. "Though almost every dish on the new menu will be different in some way from the old menu, it will still have some of our favorites of the past," says Evans; for instance, the updated burger features Painted Hills beef, Fressen Artisan Bakery brioche buns, and house aioli. "I don't like a bunch of B.S. on my burgers," says Evans. "If you have good beef and you season it well, that's all you need.
Evans has bounced around the Portland food community for around 10 years, starting at age 20 at Por Que No and later working as a line cook at chef Cathy Whims's Oven & Shaker. He then helped to open Kachka, ultimately moving up to sous chef.
Along with the food, Night Light Lounge is making other changes: The back patio is now non-smoking. But don't fear too much change—Evans says Night Light will still split the difference between a dive and a classy lounge. "Our sidewalk seating is still available to those who enjoy a cigarette with their cocktail or after their meal," he says, "and we'll still be serving burgers, mac and cheese, and nachos until 2 a.m."
Here's the new menu from last night's launch at Night Light: