Chef Diane Lam is well-known in Portland for her approach to Southeast Asian cooking. She started her Portland career as chef de cuisine at the Korean bar Revelry, took over the Psychic Bar kitchen with her chicken wings and rice shop Prey & Tell, and recently opened her pop-up Sunshine Noodles as a permanent restaurant in Northwest Portland. However, her next venture is going to look a little different: Teaming up with Wei-En Tan, the owner and sommelier of Stem Wine Bar on Mississippi Avenue [whom the author sometimes cat sits for], Lam will open Alouette later this month in Slabtown. A modern bistro with heavy French influences, Alouette will serve small and larger plates like butter-braised brassicas, beef fat pomme frites, and hangar steak in vadouvan-spiced butter along with cocktails and wines by the glass.
Alouette doesn’t seek to evoke a particular style of French dining, but will reflect the kind of cooking that Lam grew up with and the food she makes at home, including vinaigrettes she learned to make from her aunt. “It’s not Parisian French or Basque French,” Lam says, “it’s what I would make in my kitchen.”
Most important to the team is that Alouette serves the neighborhood and its needs as a classic bistro — a place where diners can stop in to share some snacks and a drink before heading out for the evening, as well as for couples looking for a full meal or even just a glass or two of wine.
To facilitate that kind of casual dining atmosphere, the menu will be broken into smaller dishes that can play with one another. Visitors can mix and match dishes and sample from an assortment of small plates to pair with wines. Tan will initially run the wine program — unsurprisingly for a French-style bistro, it will draw largely from France, but with a strong Oregon presence as well. According to Tan, the wine list will emphasize female and non-binary makers and producers. Cocktails, too, will draw from local sources, including nearby distilleries like Freeland Spirits, and Tan tapped bartender Ashley Iler Burson, of vegan Southern restaurant South X Northwest to run the drink program.
Alouette is expected to open on Thursday, May 26 at 2764 NW Thurman Street. Opening hours will be Tuesday through Sunday, 4 to 9 p.m. An intimate dining room will fit just over 40 diners, and its limited outdoor seating will be expanded in early summer. The space was designed by interior designer and pastry chef Martha Roark, and serves to highlight that casual, bistro atmosphere the team is going for.