The former Music Millenium space on NW 23rd is now home to a chic eatery with a pyro streak: the split dining rooms of Northwest Portland's new The Fireside are anchored around an open fire pit (hold on to the kids) and a floor-to-ceiling fireplace.
Owners Sue Erickson, Dick Singer, and Wendy Hessel wanted to bring elements of open flame to their decor and Chef Henry Kibit's menu, which is loaded with plates large and small showcasing wood-fired veggies, meats, and house-made ingredients (like pork rilletes and smoky ketchup). Campfire-inspired eats and a selection of nine cocktails (crafted by Erickson herself) also reflect the great outdoors and in-house concoctions like root bitters and syrups.
Menu standouts at lunch include charred lamb riblets with pickled blueberry preserves, grilled romaine salad with a snowy layer of grated sharp cheese and almonds, the Hunter Sandwich with roast beef and mushrooms, and tasty snacks like freshly fried beet and carrot chips with harissa and a pickle plate with winter squash and vinegar-spiked eggs. The dinner menu is largely the same as the mid-day selection, with a few heartier additions like pan-fried trout and olive-butter-topped steak with fried cauliflower and capers.
The multi-partitioned space (boasting deeply-grained wooden booths, two-top tables, mid-century loveseats, and plenty of leather bar stools) means you and your friends can easily carve out a cozy space of your own for the evening. Another design highlight: the "speakeasy bathroom" that blends into the wall (ask your server if you have trouble finding it at first, as I did).
Fireside is currently open for lunch (Mon-Sat, 11 am to 2:30 pm) and dinner (Mon-Thu, 5:30 to 10 pm; Fri-Sat, 5:30 to midnight) with brunch and happy hour service expected to launch within the month.
Check out my slide show from opening week by clicking the photo above, and head in soon to get a feel for the new spot. You'll likely walk out full, warm, and happy.