Dana Frank is having a bit of a moment right now. The nationally-celebrated sommelier has been holding her Natty by Nature pop-up—a mash-up of natural wine and '80s/'90s hip-hop—at event space Tournant since February. Her new wine-pairing cookbook, Wine Food, (co-authored with Portlander Andrea Slonecker) will come out in September. Before that, she spent years championing pure, wild fermentations at places like Ava Gene’s, Gruner, and natural wine-focused restaurant Dame.
Now, Frank tells Eat Beat she’ll open her own wine bar, Bar Norman, at 2615 SE Clinton (inside the Off the Waffle Building) right after the 4th of July holiday. Her hope is to create a stripped-down, exclusively natural wine (made with organic or biodynamic grapes and without additives) bar serving 20–25 glass pours with no bottle list. Mostly, Frank wants Norman to feel like a cocktail bar, not a “wine bar.” “I’m trying to avoid that old wine bar stigma," Frank says, "that rut we’ve been in for so long.”
Bar Norman is named after Frank’s grandfather (no, he was not a wine nerd or vintner … just a particularly influential, terrific-sounding person), and will hold 30 seats between the bar, communal table, and front window area. The Clinton Street space will be white and bright with big windows in front and back and a two-story lofted ceiling. The plan is to open Tuesday–Saturday, 4 p.m.–midnight to start.
Beyond that minimalist vision, expect small snacks, like serrano ham on the back bar, tinned fish, and good anchovies in olive oil. Also in the works: bottles to-go, classes, visiting winemakers, and a wine/hospitality mentorship program.
Unlike Dame, Frank’s last operation, Bar Norman is a deeply personal project—a long-stewing centerpiece to her impressive career. “I’ve had the good fortune of working at all of these amazing places, but I’m ready to strip it all away and just do something really simple that resonates with me and where I am in my life. It’s just about the wine.”
Frank has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help pay for the project. You can learn more about the bar and contribute here.