Like a Hollywood movie set, the lights were turned all the way up on the first night of service at Raven & Rose, Southwest Portland's latest landmark eatery. A dramatic transformation of a former stable and servants' quarters into a 21st-century restaurant—complete with all the recent trendy trimmings, wood-fired oven and historical cocktail program included—Lisa Mygrant's labor of love is now ready for its close-up.
As previously reported, the fully renovated Ladd Carriage House is now home to a two-story, 120-seat restaurant and bar, with a proportionately ambitious design scheme. The 130-year old building has been outfitted with soon-to-be LEED Gold Certified retrofits, preserving every historic inch of the carriage house's exterior.
Inside, the former stables, hayloft, and living quarters of the turn-of-the-century space are now home to leather banquets, handmade bars with swiveling leather barstools, and a fully modern open kitchen. Downstairs, guests can carve out a space for themselves in the wide-open dining room, from the row of cozy booths and two-top tables to bar-height seating and chef's counter spots. Upstairs, in the space dubbed The Rookery Bar, soaring beams float over an open room, with a Pratt & Larson-tiled fireplace, tricked-out pool table, American leather couches and armchairs, and bathrooms gilded with art deco wallpaper.
My only quibble? That aforementioned Hollywood lighting. Despite the presence of gaslight chandeliers and lanterns, the dining room is currently flooded with harsh light from the kitchen's fluorescents and the entire space is in need of a big ol' dimmer dial. Other than that, the historic space feels a bit too new... but you'll hear the same thing from the owners. Sacrificing a bit of easy-to-faux charm from vintage or refurbished furniture, every material in the building was picked to last for another 130 years. With any luck, this place will age better than Dame Helen Mirren.
On the flipside, the menu from chef David Padberg feels much more lovingly worn-in, with satisfying, slow-cooked flavors and traditional Irish and British dishes like creamy parsnip and cabbage colcannon alongside herbed rotisserie chicken, comforting creamed kale, and braised beef short ribs with a truly classic horseradish sauce and Yorkshire pudding. Gone are Padberg's experiments with Asian flavors (a common sight on the menu at Park Kitchen during his tenure at Scott Dolich's farm-to-fork restaurant) and in their place, time-honored flavors, honest prices, and a palpable appreciation for doing things the right way.
The drink offerings echo more of the same—quality, historically-inspired creations with room to grow. Each week, barman Dave Shenaut will unleash a new list of $9 cocktails featuring old school tinctures, amaros, and spirits, and the previous week's list will be added to a "Cocktail Bible" binder, so that by the end of the year tipplers will be able to flip through (and order from) fifty two weeks of traditional cocktails. The current roster features sips like the Slack Tide (with Appleton Rum, Jack Rudy tonic, allspice dram, bitters, and seltzer) and the Blood and Sand (with Auchentoshan Three Wood scotch, Carpano Antica, Cherry Heering, and orange juice). Kristen Koors' wine list features new and old world picks, from Portland's urban wineries and celebrated French producers alike, with four local selections on tap.
The bottom Line: Unlike many Portland restaurants that debut in a state of undress, fine tuning their details in the public eye, Raven & Rose has stepped out into the restaurant scene fully styled. That thoughtfulness and decorum can come across a bit too polished, but with the addition of some bootprints on the stairs and a bit of scuff to the leather sofas, we could be looking at a true Portland classic.
Click on the photo above for full slideshow of Raven & Rose photos!
Raven & Rose
1331 SW Broadway
Dining Room hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 5 pm to 10 pm
The Rookery Bar: Tuesday through Saturday, 5 pm to midnight