With all the chatter about Portland’s most creative chefs moving towards a veg-heavy food culture (Holiday, Departure, and Tusk, to name a few), it’s easy to forget that a seriously good, strictly vegan, fine-dining restaurant already exists in Farm Spirit. A 2016 Portland Monthly Best Restaurant, Farm Spirit uses modernist methods to intensifying and rethinking the flavors of our local (everything within less than 100 miles) fruits and vegetables. Now, after three years, Eat Beat has learned the Buckman neighborhood restaurant is moving around the block to the former Roost space, which shuttered quietly in October.
In late January, chef-owner Aaron Adams will shuffle his restaurant one block south to 1403 SE Belmont St. His current Farm Spirit location will become Fermenter, a place for fermentation experiments, classes, private dining, and by summer 2019, if things go well, a casual lunch location.
The new Farm Spirit dining room will be larger (30 seats, up from 14), decked out in white oak and illustrations of Northwest flora, and offer table service—a change from the restaurant’s chef’s counter-only approach. Adams plans to shorten the prix fixe tasting menu to five or six courses and add more substance to each. (There will still be a 6-seat chef’s counter with more courses available for diners who want a longer, close-up experience.) Dinner will start with a rolling, dim sum-style cart offering “snacks, ferments, and bottles of weird things,” with the possibility of a bigger main course—maybe a cutting board with roasted abalone mushrooms—served with share plates, somewhere in the middle of the meal. “I kinda hate eating two bites of something and then it’s gone,” explains Adams. “I want to chew on it a little longer.”
Fermenter, meanwhile, will inhabit the original Farm Spirit space (1414 SE Morrison St). To start, it’ll be a test lab for fermentation, dehydration, and freeze-dried experiments. Adams is especially excited about “black” produce—essentially the slow-heating technique used for black garlic but applied to fruits and vegetables. He envisions diners heading over for dessert, or an after-dinner drink to check out the crazy equipment and wander around the wonderfully funky, fermenting jars. Classes are in the works, too, focused on bread-making and fermentation, from kombucha to kefir. There’s also room for a reservable, 14-seat private table.
Plans are still shaking out, but Adams is hoping to open Fermenter for a casual lunch starting next summer, serving simple salads, soups, and sandwiches made on house bread. “Over the years we’ve become way more refined,” says Adams. “We simplified and concentrated flavor quite a bit. I’m still trying to make it feel elegant, but also comfortable, familiar, and very Portland.”
Tickets will still be available via Farm Spirit’s online TOCK service. Stay tuned for updates.