It’s been a long hard journey for Annette Yang and Brian Leitner, owners of Northwest Portland’s upcoming Le Vieux. First they changed the name of their restaurant for legal reasons (originally, it was “The Old Country”). Then they changed the location after irrevocable construction conflicts (the first restaurant was slotted for Southeast Division). But Le Vieux will open sometime in the next month, City of Portland be damned, in the former Noisette space at 1937 NW 23rd Place, cooking to the tune of old world Mediterranean.
The culinary power couple worked in some of San Francisco’s top restaurants (Yang at Aqua, Foreign Cinema, and Spruce; Leitner at Alice Water’s Chez Panisse) before earning three stars from the SF Chronicle for their own shellfish mecca, Nettie’s Crab Shack. Le Vieux (which translates to “The Old,” in French) is a far cry from a Dungeness crab boil. The kitchen, helmed by Leitner, will focus on old world Mediterranean food: “Eastern and Western Europe, West Africa, with some Jerusalem thrown in.”
The region of inspiration, Yang promises, will change every few weeks. One early menu shows a thoroughly Francophile influence with grilled oysters, salad Lyonnaise, and duck cassoulet, while another, more North African-leaning menu offers Syrian flatbread with lamb and pomegranate, Merguez sausage, and Tunisian fish stew. Also expect wood-fired flavors, courtesy of an outdoor fireplace built by Leitner. Meanwhile, weekend brunch will feature a mash up of Le Vieux’s old world breakfast cultures. “We aren’t trying to reinvent anything,” says Yang, “we want the food to be nostalgic—familiar to a less hurried time.”
The white tablecloth Noisette space has already been transformed with a tin-pressed ceiling, exposed wooden floors, and an expanded bar, where Yang plans to showcase region-specific classic cocktails and creative Bloody Marys (cumin and cinnamon in a Moroccan version; lavender and Pernod for France).
The couple hopes to open, very tentatively, by early November. Watch for an early look from Eat Beat in the coming months.
1937 NW 23rd Pl
Dinner: 5-10 pm
Brunch: Sat and Sun, 11am-3pm