Sousòl, the pan-Caribbean bar from Top Chef darling and James Beard Award winner Gregory Gourdet, has finally opened below its already nationally celebrated sister restaurant, Kann. The restaurant, stylishly appointed with fuchsia banquettes and dramatic lighting, is meant to highlight the varied nature of cuisines from Caribbean countries, as well as the other cultures that have influenced them — China, India, etc. The cocktail menu incorporates Caribbean spirits and produce, with plenty of non-alcoholic options, while the food menu includes a handful of fun, more casual snacks, including salt cod fritters, doubles, and Jamaican beef patties.
Considering the deafening buzz surrounding Kann, Sousòl is sure to accrue a similar amount of attention — and crowds. Here’s some of the info you might want to know before you go.
Who is Gregory Gourdet?
Gregory Gourdet is an alumni of Portland restaurants like Departure and Saucebox, who has become arguably the city’s most well-known celebrity chef who still cooks in town. His debut on Top Chef season 12 helped create a national audience for Gourdet, and his TV appearances didn’t stop there — he went on to be a finalist on Top Chef season 17, an all-stars season, and appeared as a guest judge on the Portland season of the show. He also competed on Iron Chef: Quest For An Iron Legend earlier this year. In 2021, he released his first cookbook, Everyone’s Table: Global Recipes for Modern Health, which won him a James Beard Award this year. He also opened the aforementioned Kann, an eclectic Haitian restaurant that the New York Times named one of the “50 places in America we’re most excited about right now.”
While Kann was a highly anticipated opening for years, Sousòl was a more recent development. In the spring of 2020, the Oregonian reported that Gourdet would also open a 2,700 square-foot cocktail bar below his restaurant. The bar is meant to be a more casual spot than Kann, focused on its alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, as well as Caribbean bar snacks. Andrew Embry, who previously worked at places like Kex and Renata, is the bar’s beverage director, who utilizes techniques like coconut fat-washing for heady, interesting cocktails.
What should I order?
If the bar’s salt cod fritters are anything like Kann’s, they’re worth an order — soft and pillowy, with a nice oceanic saltiness. Other oft-discussed snacks include Trini-Chinese chicken wings, lollipop-style in a “tangy and warm-spiced glaze,” in the words of Portland Monthly’s Matthew Trueherz. When it comes to the bar, cocktails incorporating interesting Caribbean ingredients are likely going to be winners: for example, a rye-and-apple brandy cocktail with arak, Cynar, Haitian black mushroom, or the Warmer Winters with agave spirits, pineapple, Opal, demerara, and mint. Considering Kann’s non-alcoholic menu — and the fact Gourdet has been sober for more than 13 years — the zero-proof drinks are also likely to be worth an order, like the Konkonm with cucumber and ginger-black pepper-lime syrup.
A few folks tried out Sousòl before it officially opened, earlier this month, and had a few thoughts. Nori De Vega, the Instagrammer behind the popular food account @nomnom_nori, was a big fan of the bar’s take on doubles, a dish of Trinidadian descent, consisting of a flatbread filled with curried chickpeas — when she tried it, it came with tamarind chutney and pickles, for acid and sweetness. She also enjoyed all of the bar’s non-alcoholic drinks and a cocktail called the Midnight Swim, which had Japanese and local gins, Quinquina, nori, and squid ink — “like an extra briny and umami-forward martini,” she says.
How do I get in?
For those who have been struggling to get a reservation at Kann — monthly reservations have been selling out within a matter of minutes — Sousòl may be the solution: Currently, the restaurant is walk-ins only, though the bar’s Instagram story noted that reservations may be coming soon. For now, then, it’s all about the all-purpose restaurant-line tips: Arrive at least five minutes before opening (aka 4:55 p.m.), try a weekday over a weekend, and keep the party small if you’re not looking to wait.
When is it open?
For now, the bar is open from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, and 5 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays. However, the team plans to expand hours in the coming weeks.
Where is it?
227 SE 6th Avenue.