Ava Gene's Alums to Open Wine-Centric Restaurant, Dame, in Former Cocotte Space
Some say chefs get all the attention. Not so with Dana Frank, former wine director and general manager at Southeast Division’s Ava Gene’s. In 2015 alone, the powerhouse was named one of Food & Wine’s “Sommeliers of the Year” and Bon Appetit’s “Sommelier to Watch,” and began writing a (still untitled) wine pairing book, set to publish sometime in the near future. Now, Eat Beat has learned Frank plans to open Dame, a temple to natural wines inside the recently shuttered Cocotte space at 2930 NE Killingsworth, slated for early summer.
Frank is joined by co-owner Jane Smith (The Knock Back) and former Ava Gene’s and Zahav chef de cuisine, Sam Smith (no relation). Sam Smith, last seen holding family-style pop-ups at Han Oak, will act as a menu consultant only, creating a vegetable-driven, seasonal lineup with a “lighter, feminine” touch alongside Mediterranean and Eastern European flavors.
According to Frank, natural wines—unadulterated, imperfect, organically grown grapes produced without any additives—have been going strong in Paris and New York for years, with the Bay Area and London recently catching on. One of Portland’s biggest natural wine advocates, her plan is to stock the city’s first all-natural wine cellar, curating vintages (including her husband’s own Bow & Arrow urban winery) that range from easy, affordable, everyday glasses to special, hard-to-find bottles.
The former Cocotte space will get a facelift from designers Jasmine Vaughan (Made & State) and Mathew Foster (Radical Co-operative), as they build out the 37-seat dining room. “Jane and I liked the idea of taking this old building and ‘rehabbing’ her, breathing new life into a really beautiful space,” Frank says.
The Dame team also has plans for a private 15-seat dining room for groups, winemaker events, and classes. Stay tuned for more details.