Chef Shuffles at Coffee-and-Vermouth Bar Americano

Eclectic New Orleans expat Chris DeBarr is out; Luce alum John Willis is in.

By Benjamin Tepler May 9, 2016

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We liked the cocktails and vibe of East Burnside’s new Americano so much, we named it one of Portland Monthly’s Best New Bars 2016. But the opening dinner menu boasted dishes like “Raw Meat Torn by Trumpet Blasts," with paragraph-long descriptions extolling the virtues of jazz legend Ornette Coleman and James Beard. It was a lot of esotericism to swallow, especially since Americano is already juggling two concepts at once: vermouth/amaro and coffee/brunch. 

Just over a month after opening, Eat Beat has learned that veteran New Orleans chef Chris DeBarr has left the kitchen. In his place, Americano owners Blair Reynolds (Hale Pele) and Ian Christopher (Coco Doughnuts) have promoted John Willis, longtime acolyte of Navarre’s John Taboada, and the opening chef at old-school Italian favorite, Luce

The redesigned menu still features all-day brunch, but with friendlier menu items. Expect Benedicts, fried oyster potato waffles, and eggs, any style, with all the breakfast essentials, bacon to English muffins. Meanwhile, an Italian-inspired bar menu broken into crostini, tramezzini, and antipasti promises small bites (all under $10) topped with fava bean puree and pecorino, vinegar-cured boquerones, and oysters in vermouth mignonette.

Bar manager Kate Bolton tells Eat Beat that Willis will launch a fully-fledged dinner menu later this week, with dishes like stuffed quail and braised oxtail with sweet potato grits, served from 5–10 p.m.   

2605 E Burnside St.
7 a.m.–12 a.m. daily

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