This cinder-block bunker of modest reserve serves culinary provocations on a street known more for hipster aspirations than for globe- smashing intrigue. Chef Sarah Pliner’s approach unfolds slowly on a seemingly random list of dishes, each its own constellation of cui- sines and visual juxtapositions. France winks at Chinatown; Japan dances with India. Think of an iPod shuffling from Ravel to M.I.A. Not everything works, but any given night turns up plenty of food and drink to tease the mind and make your tongue smile—perhaps tempura green beans made magical with green curry, or four-cup chicken sided by opium-caliber blobs of creamed taro root and truffle perfumes.
On the other side of the menu, Aviary’s cozy bar calls to mind a rustic Zen temple—polished wood, dark steel, and white walls all coming together in a minimalist homage to lines and right angles. Most nights you can spy a well-heeled crowd of couples and food acolytes trading sips of flavorful elixirs pumped up with everything from tobacco bitters to “cookie spice”. The Canicule, which mashes up Bombay Sapphire East gin and sauvignon blanc with pineapple shrub and jalapeño, performs throat-tickling acrobatics in your mouth, while the One Night in Bangkok offsets vodka and lime with savory kaffir lime leaf and lemongrass for a sophisticated alternative to the lemon drop. These are combinations to meditate on.
We featured Aviary's bar in our guide to Portland's best bars of 2014.