Top Chef alum Doug Adams has left the Woodsman Tavern to open his highly anticipated Bullard, but the new chef in charge spent some serious time in Gabriel Rucker’s web of restaurants. This April, Andrew Gordon (Little Bird, Le Pigeon) took over as chef of the high-end-homey, Americana-twinged restaurant on SE Division, where he’s bringing a whole mess of his Mississippi background into the Woodsman dining room.
“To me, it’s just the stuff I would eat and feed my family in Mississippi,” Gordon says. “It’s the same stuff I grew up on. I put some Pacific Northwest in there, I try to have local ingredients, but the heart of it is comfort food: Cajun, Creole, and a little bit of barbecue.” Gordon moved North in 2011 for culinary school, where he jumped into the Little Bird kitchen. He spent time at Le Pigeon and Tanner Creek Tavern afterward, but the Woodsman is a little closer to home: hot chicken sandwiches, blackened catfish with crawfish etouffee, snacks like fried pickles, and chicken and dumplings come winter.
Still, even when he’s serving the comfort food of his childhood, his mentors still lurk as he develops dishes; for instance, Gordon is planning to add a version of his Little Bird charcuterie creation, duck rillettes with sweet potato pie, with duck confit. “Any time I touch a piece of food here, I feel (former Little Bird executive chef) Erik Van Kley standing over my shoulder,” he says. “I hold myself to a standard, but at the same time, I’m a poor, middle class Mississippi person. I can’t feel right making froufrou Southern food; I want it good. I want it to taste right. I want Gabe (Rucker) and Erik to come in here and eat, not shrug their shoulders.” Gordon seems to be doing well enough, considering Oregonian critic Michael Russell first reported Gordon’s new gig in the paper’s 40 Best Restaurants.
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• Is Top Chef Finalist Doug Adams Finally Going to Open His Restaurant? [EPDX]
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