Eat Here Now: Raven & Rose

The historic Ladd Carriage House is now a worthy restaurant mixing Northwest culinary trends with English tradition (and plenty of cocktails).

By Benjamin Tepler March 22, 2013 Published in the April 2013 issue of Portland Monthly

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Image: Dylan Harkavy

In the past decade, the 130-year-old Ladd Carriage House has been slated for demolition, saved by preservationists, hoisted and rolled down SW Broadway on a trailer, and, finally, towed back up the street in 2008. Five years later, the Victorian shell has risen as Raven & Rose, a multimillion-dollar project vying for prominence in downtown’s newly vibrant food scene. After all that, this place had better be good.

With former Park Kitchen chef David Padberg at the helm, Raven & Rose mixes Portland’s familiar house-made pork terrines, wood-oven heat, and hearty braised meats with a hint of English tradition befitting a carriage house, such as Yorkshire puddings and crumpets. With rabbit, Padberg goes his own way—and you don’t want to miss it. In a garlicky, crisp Caesar salad it turns up confit in luscious strips, and then on a hare-raising plate of “Rabbit Two Ways” its plump, juicy loin medallions and mustard-braised morsels of hindquarter are spooned over creamy kale and a puffed, buttery biscuit. Sweetbreads are done right—crispy on the outside, creamy and bursting with offal flavor on the inside—coddled in a bed of brussels sprout leaves, smoky bacon lardons, and earthy chunks of sunchoke. 

Mixologist-about-town David Shenaut’s “historically inspired” cocktails, pegged to the building’s 1883 birth date, feature familiar spirits and combinations. But Shenaut keeps things interesting, balancing bold liquors and finding new plays on classic flavors—as evidence, try the Buck ’n’ Breck (cognac with anise-forward absinthe, mellowed by the surprise of Argyle sparkling wine) and the Slack Tide (Jamaican rum mixed with Jack Ruby tonic, allspice dram, and seltzer).

In the 80-seat dining room, the carriage-house mood can get lost in generic details and spotty lighting. But a jaunt upstairs to the former hayloft leads to a space dubbed “The Rookery,” which is reason alone to visit Raven & Rose. This more casual, intimate level features a vaulted ceiling, a gaping fireplace, a custom-built soapstone bar, a handsome billiard table, and leather furniture galore. Somewhere between an exclusive clubhouse and a hunting lodge, the bar provides a setting worthy of the building’s illustrious roots—and the thoughtful fare below. 

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