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Image: Karen Brooks

Looks like modernist upstart Nomad.PDX will boast a new address (or two) in the months to come. For the past year, determined young chefs Ryan Fox and Ali Matteis have been squatting in a bedroom-sized dining room space above downtown Portland’s rambunctious Shift Drinks bar. Even so, their ambitious but light-hearted approach to fine dining earned PoMo’s tag as one of two Rising Star Restaurants 2015. As Eat Beat has learned, the fun-loving, tasting-menu destination is close to signing a lease for their own permanent brick-and-mortar space in an undisclosed space.

Lease deal or no, Nomad will serve its last meal at Shift Drinks on May 15. Next interim stop: turning a kitchen into a dining room, literally. Starting May 19, Fox and Matteis will hole up at 335 NW Broadway. Until recently, the space was the commercial kitchen of Bowery Bagels, which recently bolted to larger quarters. Diners will eat right in the kitchen, grouped at butcher block tables. 

“We’ve always embraced our quirky locations,” says Fox. “I want people to feel like they are guests at my home rather than a restaurant. And at any good party the hot spot to hang out is … the kitchen.”

Menus going forward will stay in Nomad.PDX zone: intensely seasonal, frequently changing, 15 to 20 little courses, blending the modern and the whimsical. Nomad.PDX now has its own garden, and Fox says they plan to draw from “an extensive collection of herbs, flowers, and vegetables grown by the staff.”

Dinners will still be reservation only, Thursday–Sunday (check the website for details). The new “kitchen dining” space will also continue what is now a Nomad.PDX tradition: a casual, drop-by, a la carte menu, 10 p.m.–1 a.m. Sunday nights only. What started as a fluke idea is now an industry hangout, and demand is growing. It may become a nightly option this summer. If Portland’s chefs and bartenders are spending their hard-earned nights off here, they must be doing something very right.

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