Best Restaurants 2022

At Tercet, a Scrappy Trio Proves Downtown Portland Can Do Fine Dining

The former staff of Roe is shaking things up in the old downtown space, bringing fine dining without the fussiness.

By Matthew Trueherz Photography by Thomas Teal November 23, 2022 Published in the December 2022 issue of Portland Monthly


ercet gets close to a big-city fine dining experience, but it still feels like Portland. Instead of following the trend toward dressed-down meals, chef John Conlin is after perfection.

True to its name, Tercet is run by just three people, soup to nuts. During the pandemic, Conlin, sous-chef Wyatt VandenBerghe, and sommelier Michael Branton took over the space occupied by their former employer, Roe, in Morgan’s Alley. While Tercet lacks the seamless experience that swarms of staff bring to traditional fine dining meals, it also leaves behind the white-glove sterility. Lavish details like welcome cocktails, a “foam” course, and caviar served with mother-of-pearl spoons are, however, enough to make anyone feel special. 

Image: Thomas Teal

In the mezzanine dining room, moody with dark wood and industrial chandeliers, all seats face the open kitchen, framing it like a stage. The seasonally shifting tasting menu’s through line is a healthy respect for Oregon produce, minor theatrics, and a rigor for detail. Ornate “snacks” trickle in, like fig and cheese tartlets the size of a quarter and granita-loaded oysters on river rocks. A sourdough bread course comes full circle when the byproduct of its house-cultured butter is turned into a sherbet for dessert.

On one visit, cuts from a whole goat were divvied up between tables for the final savory course: loin for one, shoulder or leg for the next, with blueberries, eggplant, and Padrón peppers. Enjoy the show—it’s on Broadway, after all. 515 SW Broadway,