Aviary, a bright and stylishly austere bistro known for its New American cuisine that mixed French cooking with East Asian elements, will have its last day of service on Saturday, August 29. The restaurant announced the closure on Instagram today, and speaking with Eater PDX, Sarah Pliner said the restaurant would close due to a “combination of factors,” including a recent struggle with revenue. Ultimately, the chef said that the pandemic had “taken it out of [her] hands.”
Chef Pliner opened Aviary in 2011 with Salt & Straw’s Kat Whitehead and XLB chef and owner Jasper Shen, during the height of Portland’s national culinary acclaim. In its first year, however, the restaurant caught fire, reopening five months later with a new bar. It generally sprung back and accrued serious attention among national and local food writers, who appreciated the restaurant’s crispy pig ears and comfortable-yet-sophisticated feel. Eventually, Whitehead and Shen left the restaurant, but Pliner remained.
The restaurant stayed consistent with its general style but often mixed things up, like adding a vegetarian tasting dinner or a very non-vegetarian banh mi burger whose six-minute, deep-fried egg and hoisin and Kewpie mayo sauce graced the happy hour menu at times. Two years ago, Pliner introduced a lobster roll to the menu for the Alberta Street Fair, which quickly became a hit. While it wasn’t always on the menu, it currently is and should remain until Aviary closes next week, along with dishes like pork and shrimp dumplings, pork banh mi, and that famous crispy pig ear.