By the time popular event space Union/Pine broke the news that it was taking over the storied Wildwood space, which sat vacant in Northwest Portland for four years, we were just glad it wasn’t being paved over with a Rite-Aid. We were doubly excited when we found out who was headed into the kitchen at the incoming restaurant, West: Lucian Prellwitz, a promising young gun who steered the ship at Ned Ludd when owner Jason French took a back seat, and most recently chef de cuisine at Beast. West opened its doors Friday, December 7, at 1221 NW 21st Ave. 

Prellwitz is joined in the kitchen by his wife Morgan Deeks, a former Oregon Culinary Institute instructor and cook at Ned Ludd, where the two met. Brandon Josie, the cocktail man behind long-closed Riffle NW and Southeast’s Palomar, will helm the bar.

A short, 15-item winter menu is all seasonal comfort: burrata with apple butter, parsley, and garlic focaccia, wood-roasted beets with vadouvan brown butter, and a lamb burger with brie, sherried onion, Dijon aioli, and mint. We’re especially excited about the dishes that use Wildwood’s old wood-fired pizza and tandoor ovens: the above-mentioned roasted beets, and wood-grilled “short rib frites” in the early lineup. It’s a refreshingly simple, unfussy menu with strong influences from Prellwitz’s time at Ned Ludd and Beast. 

Cocktails range widely in spirit and influence, from the Medina Coffee with banhez mezcal, coffee, spiced chocolate, and cream, to a Toki & Savory highball with Suntory whiskey, salted plum, and maitake soda. There’s also plenty of seasonality (a rye drink with spiced apple soda and another with persimmon) and plays on classics, like an Old Fashioned with rum and brandy. A short list of European and Oregon wines rounds out the list. 

The 40-seat restaurant-bar fills those big, Wildwood shoes with bright, white walls, a wavy, raked plaster bar, and plenty of greenery. The private event space in back, formerly Wildwood’s dining room, now has cork floors and exposed wooden beams. 

West is open daily, 4 p.m.—midnight.

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