Tavern on the Scene

By Sylvan Goldberg May 19, 2009

Michael and Naomi Hebberoy have changed the face of Portland’s dining scene often enough by now that it’s no surprise they’ve gone Nip/Tuck on their own public mug. Last December, the Family Supper founders closed down their Gotham Building Coffee Shop—based at their Ripe headquarters—only to reopen it this April as the Gotham Building Tavern.

Why a tavern? “The diner has become antiquated and the bar is exclusionary, so maybe the tavern is right,” Michael says of the new space, which combines upscale food with a casual atmosphere. “We want it to feel like an everyday kind of place,” he says, “but also be a place for people to come on special occasions.” Gotham achieves this balance by complementing a central dining area with two reservations-only tatami rooms: the Beehive and the Birdcage.

Coinciding with Gotham’s reinvention, the Hebberoys have unveiled “The Program,” a training sequence to improve their servers’ food awareness. Modeled very loosely—according to Michael—on Maoist reeducation camps, the hands-on instruction includes, among other things, rolling ravioli, making chocolate and butchering a whole pig.

The servers will also surely learn that the success of the Ripe universe lies in the food, which Naomi oversees at Gotham with Family Supper chef Tommy Habetz. The menu adheres to seasonal and local options like a cheddar soufflé with black trumpet mushrooms and nettle ravioli. Amid their cabals to revolutionize Portland dining, it’s nice to see that the Hebberoys keep one thing consistent—offering some of the most creative and decadent food in town.

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