Bar Diane, the sweet and colorful wine bar from Clyde Common alum Sami Gaston, was open for five months before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down Portland dining rooms. After a lengthy buildout, Gaston didn’t feel like she could afford to completely close the business — so, like many Portland wine bars, Bar Diane became a bottle shop: Gaston and business partner Kevin Gouy lined the bar and tables with bottles of Hungarian skin contact wines and Columbia River Gorge zinfandel — plus plenty of bubbles, foreign and domestic.
“Luckily, we were very small, so we were able to nimbly start selling our cellar, we were merchandising a little shop,” she says. “Next thing we knew, it was working.”
But Bar Diane was never meant to be a bottle shop; its kitchen, run by chef Chris Turner, was serving oysters on the half shell and seasonal salads, and as more and more Portlanders got vaccinated, they wanted to sit inside to drink and eat. Trying to straddle both bottle shop and working wine bar wasn’t sustainable. So, they decided to give the bottle shop its own space: Negociant — a wine shop, market, and deli — will open in Northwest Portland this quarter, steps away from Bar Diane.
The 3,000 square-foot Negociant will cover the full day shift on NW 21st: The market’s deli counter will be filled with things like jambon-beurre or house pork terrine sandwiches, smoked trout quiche, and salads, with a dine-in menu featuring dishes like French onion soup. Turner, who spent time at Boston’s lauded Menton before heading to Portland, has developed a following for his house-baked breads; they’ll find a home at Negociant as well.
But Bar Diane is also a full-on market, with a cheese counter, a charcuterie case, a butcher’s counter, house-made sausages, and a seafood counter. “There’s a little grocery component, if you find something you want to take home yourself for dinner,” Gaston says.
The bottle selection will include things like grower Champagne and other European wines, and a substantial selection of Pacific Northwestern wines. A 105-square-foot “reserve cellar” will hold particularly special bottles, though Gaston wants the selection at Negociant to be broader than what’s available at Bar Diane. “The focus at Negociant will be sustainability in viticulture,” she says. “Small production, but not necessarily zero-zero stuff. We’ll have a little bit of something for everybody.”
Bar Diane, on the other hand, will focus on wine and dinner service, hosting winemakers and — hopefully — getting the dj station up and running once again. “Those turntables have been gathering dust for about two years,” Gaston says.
Bar Diane is currently open for indoor and outdoor service, with reservations available. Negociant will open at 655 NW 21st Avenue, ideally before the end of March.