One of Portland’s big-name chefs is landing at a Pearl District restaurant and wine bar. Erik Van Kley, known for his time at Le Pigeon and the late Taylor Railworks, has moved into the kitchen at the ultra-chic Arden.
Van Kley is well-respected in Portland’s culinary scene, although his last few years have been somewhat nomadic: After Taylor Railworks closed in late 2017, the chef spent about a year at SE Belmont Italian spot Accanto, until that restaurant eventually closed. He moved to the Southeast Portland Spanish spot Bar Casa Vale this year, before heading across the river to Arden on August 1.
Thelonious Wines co-owner Kelsey Glasser opened Arden in the spring of 2018 with chef Sara Hauman, a San Francisco transplant whose Spanish and modernist influences created some of the year’s best dishes, including a rose of lightly smoked trout crudo with seasonal produce, dashes of horseradish cream, and puffed quinoa. Hauman is now at Soter as the winery’s chef. “It’s no bad blood, we wish her the best,” Glasser says.
As Hauman prepared to leave, sous chef Brandon Simpliciano recommended Van Kley — alongside many folks in the community. “Ultimately, Erik came so highly recommended from people on our staff and from people who knew and loved Taylor Railworks,” Glasser says. “We wanted to find someone that we didn’t have to mold to Arden, but whose culinary style naturally fits... Erik has run some of the best restaurants in Portland with the Pacific Northwest in their heart, and he’s already been such a positive force in the kitchen.”
Van Kley didn’t rush into revamping the menu when he started earlier this month; dishes are just now starting to change, including a new fig galette with blue cheese ice cream and a Day Boat albacore tuna with squid and n’duja vinaigrette. “He’s a super thoughtful guy, so he didn’t want to brashly change things before he really knew the kitchen,” Glasser says. Van Kley also plans to expand the restaurant’s pasta game, making bowls of house-made noodles like spaghetti with lemongrass and local clams. The two Hauman stalwarts will remain on the menu in some way or another; Van Kley will add his own style of crudo, a nod to Hauman’s rose of trout, and the menu will still feature her smoked olives. Diners should stay alert — there are more menu changes at Arden coming soon.
• Arden [Official]
• Look Inside Arden Wine Bar and Kitchen, Where Smoke and Seafood Reign [EPDX]
• Thelonious Wine Shop Is Now Open In The Pearl [EPDX]
• Taylor Railwork’s Erik Van Kley IN at Accanto [EPDX]
• Chic Italian Restaurant Accanto Will Close This Month [EPDX]