While simultaneously outing himself, The O's restaurant critic Michael Russell announced his pick for Restaurant of the Year. No, it isn't a six-week-old restaurant (2015 ROY) or something as nebulous as "pop-ups" (2014 ROY). After multiple gutsy calls in recent years, Russell played it safe, announcing Coquine as The Oregonian's 2016 Restaurant of the Year. You'd be hard pressed to find many who strongly disagree with his decision. Coquine has been rocking it out of the gates.
Russell writes the rotisserie chicken comes with "skin perfectly crisp, its flesh perfectly juicy" and the crust on the tempura-fried asparagus is "lacey." He then singles out a few components of specific dishes with scarce reasoning: He commends a broth served with halibut for lingering "in your mind for days"; "Farro and fava beans" for pairing "with smooth fava creme fraiche and a shocking flash of mint"; and a "brown-butter dashi you'll probably be tempted to drink."
Russell makes his point: Coquine is great. Go get it. Who needs qualifiers anymore? Especially now that the role of the anonymous food critic seems to be in its twilight years.