When Eat Beat broke the news that Portobello Vegan Trattoria co-founder Aaron Adams planned to open a fine dining destination, plant-based pasta fans weren’t the only ones whose ears perked. Even the meat-loving masses were excited, and with good reason; far more than merely another vegan eatery, Farm Spirit promises a radical experiment in local dining.
With the façade still a work in progress, most pedestrians stroll right by 1414 SE Morrison without noticing the building’s newest tenant. Inside, a long wooden bar, crafted from a single Portland ash salvaged from a wood chipper, dominates the tiny, 600-square-foot space. Colorful hand-blown lights from neighbor Porteco hang from the ceiling; custom dishes and mugs by Pigeon Toe and Kelly Pottery line the shelves. The walls are painted a dark, stormy blue, in contrast to the brightly illuminated dining table.
“This was designed very intentionally to take the focus off of us, as chefs, and put all the focus on the customers and the food in the middle,” Adams explains. “At the end of the day, the number one goal of this restaurant—outside of dietetics, outside of novelty, outside of all that stuff—is to make the customers that come in this door feel honored, respected and loved.”
At 7 pm, Wednesday through Saturday, fourteen lucky diners will gather at the communal table for a lavish 9–12 course tasting menu. Adams and his crew—Adams insists that all his employees will be chefs, and will be paid at least $15 an hour— will prepare every course at the long counter, close enough to chat with the customers or even shake their hands. Reservations for the single nightly seating are made online in advance—although Adams prefers to call them “tickets.”
“We like to think of this as more of an event or a dinner party than just dinner,” he says. “You pre-purchase tickets like a concert or event.” Tickets currently start at $55 per person, including tip, plus a 12% service fee. Wine pairings begin at $30; non-alcoholic pairings are also available.
“I’m even more excited about the non-alcoholic pairings than the wine,” Adams says, bouncing with enthusiasm. In addition to cooked and raw juices, the kitchen will experiment with housemade kombucha, kefir, fermented soda, iced matcha, tisanes (herbal teas), and much more. Which brings us to…
An ethical vegan for more than a decade, Adams will prepare entirely plant-based meals—avoiding the processed meat and cheese analogs that comprise many vegan menus—with gluten-free dinners available with advanced notice. The rotating menu will spawn from weekly excursions to Troutdale’s Dancing Roots Farm, where Adams and his assistant pluck ripe seasonal produce directly from the earth.
“I really wanted to be [entirely] hyper-local, but I realized I was going to really miss lemons,” Adams chuckles. The menu will be primarily sourced from local farms, but will also include select imports, including chocolate, coffee, coconut oil, cocoa butter, and citrus. But other ingredients, like cashew and palm oil, are considered too problematic to be included.
“We have so many responsibilities here at the restaurant,” says Adams, “to make food that’s delicious and environmentally responsible and ethical—for us, humanely raised means not killing an animal.”
So, what exactly will appear on those custom-made dinner plates? It’s too soon to say, says Adams, but we managed to extract three highly intriguing examples:
- Almond chaud-froid petite potatoes, charred leek juice, chive caviar, allium flowers
- Maitake torchon, toast, fried hazelnuts, stone fruits
- Asparagus veloute, radish, lemon gel, sorrel
Farm Spirit tickets are on sale now, with the grand opening slated for June 17. Tickets are transferable but not refundable—so if an emergency arises, patrons can choose to switch to another day or hand over their tickets to a lucky friend. As opening night approaches, keep an eye on Eat Beat for more breaking news updates on this exciting new eatery.
1414 SE Morrison St.