For years Verdigris has been a stalwart of Portland’s French dining scene. Chef and owner Johnny Nunn opened the bistro in December of 2014 on NE Fremont. In the cozy space diners tucked into butter leaf salads, tender gnocchi, beef bourguignon, and French onion soup, as well as brunch dishes like 60-minute eggs Benedict and smoked duck croque madames. However, after eight years of service, Verdigris will serve its last three-course dinners over the next two weeks; it closes on Sunday, May 1 with a special Italian dinner and fundraiser for the American Lung Association, a cause close to Nunn’s heart.
Before opening Verdigris, Nunn worked at celebrated restaurants like Brasserie Montmartre and Ringside Fish in Portland, as well as the famed Eleven Madison Park in New York and the now-closed Farallon in San Francisco. With Verdigris he was able stretch his own creative muscles—the restaurant mixed traditional and modern French cooking with a touch of Italian and elements of the Pacific Northwest. Its main draw has been three-course dinners, but happy hours with $1 oysters and discounted drinks drew crowds, as did brunch with ricotta pancakes and duck fat potatoes.
During early days of the pandemic, Verdigris’ small space and little-to-no outdoor seating proved untenable for on-premise dining. Nunn and his small team pivoted to takeout meals, holiday dinners, and eventually patio dining at Daisy, his cafe on NE Prescott. Eventually they consolidated Verdigris fully into the Daisy space, and the locavore and foraged-focused Morchella moved into the original Fremont location.
In a newsletter, Nunn wrote that he was moving to Oregon City and would be starting a new project there, and that he had sold Verdigris. “I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the support we’ve been shown these last 8 years and feel honored to have cooked so many meals and to have been a part of so many important occasions,” he writes. No details are yet available for his next project.
Verdigris is open Thursdays through Sundays for the next two weeks. Sunday, May 1 will feature a three-course Sicilian-inspired menu for $40, along with a raffle and door prizes. 100-percent of the funds will go to the American Lung Association. Reservations for the dinner and all other seatings at Verdigris are available online.