Under a backlit marquee spelling out “Relish Gastropub,” and inside a former music venue (before that, a funeral home!), the new 100-seat space feels as un-Portland as you might imagine in Moreland: the front sign buzzes like a church offering penance at discount rates, servers over the age of forty bus tables, and ambient background music borders on Enya.
But in most respects, Relish is a success. Chef Joseph Valoff (a Noisette alum) is serving up Oregon-driven cuisine, built around killer burgers and fresh-made pasta meant to be eaten alongside Portland’s best brews and local vintages.
The menu hits on the essential proteins—stuffed pork loin, roasted chicken, burger—while dabbling in the art of fresh pasta and farm-to-table sensibility. The hand-cut tagliatelle comes in thick, toothsome ribbons festooned around melting chunks of tart, wine-braised pork shoulder. A spring vegetable salad with crisp radishes and carrots arrives dressed in thick tomatillo puree alongside nutty pistachio crackers; a good indicator of Valoff’s skill with salads. And most importantly for a “gastropub,” the burger was unimpeachable: juicy, topped with sweet onion jam and crowned with a dreamy slice of Pecorino Cacio di Roma sheep’s milk cheese.
Beyond the food, Relish is a versatile performer. Beer geeks will gulp happily from the impressive tap list of 20-plus Oregon craft beers while you can safely take your grandmother for a nice meal, miles away from dim incandescent bulbs, thumping Dubstep, and unidentifiable pig organs. A generous “Social Hour” from 3 to 6 pm brings flavor-packed bites from mussels in orange and chile-broth to grilled asparagus with chimicchurri for early-bird eaters, and a serious-enough cocktail list will satisfy most discerning imbibers.
Even in spring’s fits and starts, Relish’s ample outdoor seating is buzzing with locals in search of great food. Relish signals a new kind of eatery for the Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood, a locally sourced gastropub with elegant cuisine prepared in an approachable, drink-friendly package.
6637 SE Milwaukie
Tue-Thu, Sun, 5-9 pm; Fri-Sat, 5-10 pm
Social Hour: Tue-Sun 3-6 pm