Say you’re a chef with cooking chops honed by multiple-Michelin mentors as well as a rep for throwing great parties and making what just might be the best chocolate chip cookies on the planet (deep in smoked almonds and caramel vibes). What’s your next move?
If you’re Katy Millard, who bootstrapped her way through some of France’s finest kitchens and earned major sous chef stripes at San Francisco’s famed Coi, you move to Portland, marry one of the city’s savviest wine guys, launch a vegetable-centric pop-up, then open your own very personal restaurant, a place that pulls all your passions under one roof.
That, in a nutshell, is the story of Coquine. Eat Beat has learned that the standout but occasional pop-up will soon become a 32-seat restaurant at the edge of Mt Tabor at 6839 SE Belmont Ave (currently the home of neighborhood spot, Song Bird). If all goes well, Millard will open in June with her husband and Coquine pop-up partner, Ksandek Podbielski, currently the epitome of informed, gracious wine hosting at Roe on SE Division Street.
Coquine’s brick-and-mortar menu is still in the R&D stage, but Millard and Podbielski have never wavered from plans discussed with Eat Beat last summer: dinner only to start, vegetarian-focused (but not vegetarian), charcoal-grilled whole chickens with seasonal accompaniments, and a flexibility to drop by for a casual bite, settle in for a plated meal, or the option to celebrate the moment with a nightly four-course prix fixe. In short: Coquine will not be joining the willy-nilly small plates revolution, and I for one, am glad to hear that.
Millard’s repertoire tends to be quietly complex, focused on technique and showcasing seasonality. Expect a range from “salad of carrot textures” to homemade gnocchi and braised pork ribs with plum chutney. Desserts will be both sweet and savory. Millard plans to pull out a Coquine pop-up favorite—homemade crème fraiche ice cream topped with licorice candied cherries—as well as her signature composed cheese plates, crowned with the likes of shaved chesnuts, sunchokes, Asian pears, and apple chestnut butter.
Right now, the couple is planning on updating the space into something “inviting but unfussy.” A tiny bar will carry what they call “a really nice collection of wine and spirits we love” plus some classic cocktails. A charcoal grill will stand outside near the spacious patio seating for bird grilling.
But mostly, I’m excited about the prospect of Millard’s chocolate chip cookies, warm from the oven. Whenever she serves them, customers try to sweet talk her into second helpings. Confided Ksandek: “I’ve never seen so many adults try to get more.”