Here on Eat Beat, we love tooting our town’s horn when it comes to national press and awards, and this month is no exception:
In the November issue of GQ, Alan Richman highlights Portland's transition from "a soggy city on the west coast" to "the scrappiest, most original gastronomic destination in America" in a nine-page spread dubbed Cloudy with a Chance of Stinging-Nettle Flan and Tomato Coulis. Not bad from the magazine that asked "What's a restaurant like [Gruner] doing in a place like Portland?" just two years ago. Boasting full-page food porn from The Woodsman Tavern, Pok Pok, St. Jack, Paulée, Olympic Provisions, Ox, Tanuki, the Portland Farmers' Market, and Upright Brewing, the article chronicles Portland's rise from a city of "industrial grayness" to one with outstanding culinary achievements despite our often-unfortunate style choices.
Though flecked with backhanded compliments, clueless assessments of Downtown's dining scene, and questionable judgment of our women (scolded for not wearing makeup while dining, breastfeeding in public, and cooking at Beast with shirts "almost totally unbuttoned"), the article gives a fair assessment of how we got here: passionate people without much experience and "peculiar ambitions" taking advantage of cheap living and lax building and liquor regulations and building something great.
Where the article veers into truly WTF territory is by hailing that our good years "are almost certainly coming to an end," citing the fact that the Pearl District is now upscale, five-story residential buildings are popping up like mushrooms, and the success of pricier spots like Ox, Woodsman Tavern, and Paulée means our quirky disregard of wealth and success is dying. Bah! Humbug! My take on the Negative Nancy spin? Richman is obviously planning on moving here and doesn't want the hoards of GQ readers to follow. Read the full article online here.
In more slightly questionable Portland discoveries, the New York Times has stumbled upon a new territory of culinary excitement called East Portland. You probably haven't heard of it. According to Times writer Remy Scalza: "[I]n the shells of old factories and brick warehouses, staples of Portland culture west of the river — coffee roasters, brewpubs, locavore restaurants and one-off boutiques — have begun to take root. Cheap rents and riverside real estate, walking distance to downtown, and an honest-to-goodness grittiness have enticed young entrepreneurs and restaurateurs, as well as plenty of bicycle-riding Portland tastemakers, into the former no man’s land."
Detailed in the NYT slide-show: The not-really-in-the-industrial-district Lardo, Burnside boutique Machus, Water Avenue Coffee, New Deal Distillery, and Dig A Pony, of which the author notes: "From the patio, with downtown Portland gleaming just across the Morrison Bridge, you can almost feel the creep of gentrification eastward."
Are you guys laughing at all of this as much as I am? What's your take on this latest wave of national press? Is our dining scene OVER? Tell me in the comments.