Trent Pierce is the rare Portland chef on a seafood wave.
At Roe, his unmarked, reservations-only seafood experiment at 3113 SE Division, he puts the likes of butterfish, blue snapper, and barracuda at the center of every dish except dessert. Big Asian flavors, French techniques, and artistic arrangements also figure prominently.
While the 30-seat, amber-lit chamber (hidden in the back room of his Block & Tackle seafood joint) offers a la carte eating, most everyone comes for the four-course mix-and-match menus or the ten-course tasting menu, served only at the chef’s counter.
Beginning next week, Pierce hopes to unveil a new approach to Roe’s exclusive chef counter tasting menus—thematic, seasonal, unconventional, and completely different from the dining room menu. The concept will pick up where Pierce left off at Fin. The short-lived Portland restaurant shuttered in 2011, but not before grabbing attention for Pierce’s head-to-fin philosophy—using every scrap in sea-gamy stocks, seafood sausages, and unexpected still life creations.
The new tasting menus aim to push the idea further. Among the ideas Pierce is toying with: a whole tuna tasting menu featuring tuna bone consommé, tuna bone marrow, tuna cheek guanciale, and barbecued blood line, a little-used connective muscle (Pierce swears it tastes like beef when marinated in soy, sake, and mirin).
But mostly, Roe is casting its net on a hot dining trend: connecting intimately with customers. Pierce and his ever-present sidekick Patrick Schultz want to bump up Roe’s fun factor. “It will be a little more interactive with us at the counter,” says Pierce. “We will hand the dishes to the guest and explain them.” Any conversation with the two chefs, typically quiet as monks, will feel radical.
Read November’s issue, on stands soon, to find out why Roe just landed the #7 spot on our Best New Restaurants list.
3113 SE Division St. (inside Block & Tackle)
Dinner only, Wed-Sat