Roe PDX

I enjoyed the original Roe PDX restaurant by Chef Trent Pierce when it was a hidden restaurant in the back of Block and Tackle (formerly Wafu), and have been excitedly awaiting the opening of the new Roe PDX location downtown. Dining here is completely reservations only, and you select your date and time of seating from Tock or OpenTable – they have a smaller Theater menu, or go the full chefs menu course dinners. The price includes gratuity. The food here is contemporary seafood, with an intimate fine dining atmosphere – the level of service here is worthy of any white tablecloth restaurant in the top cities in the world, not the usual Portland casualness.

You’ll find Roe in the back of Morgan’s Alley (515 SW Broadway), only blocks from Pioneer Square. It is slightly hidden on the second floor with no clear Roe sign, only a congratulatory “Yes! You’ve Found Us!” as a hint.

Roe PDX Waiting room before you enter the dining room of Roe PDX

When you first enter the otherwise unmarked door, you find yourself in a waiting room with no view of the restaurant space yet, only another note that someone would be with us and some seats against the all and flower arrangement in the middle on a table. At first, it felt a little Alice in Wonderland.

But shortly, we were greeted by someone who offered us a hot towel, glass of water and a warm cup of dashi broth. This hospitality warmed us up immediately from the cold outside and after taking our coats, she then brought us past the second door into dining room.
Roe PDX Roe PDX

Wow, this dining room! Although it is located in an open atrium, you can’t see it at all from the first floor. Unlike the original location, this new spot offers lots of warm light to admire the artful plating you’ll see throughout dinner. The open kitchen from the original location also persists, although it is many many times larger and has more equipment for the chefs to work their magic.
Roe PDX

The place settings are simple, with silverware that is modern to continue to set the tone of the modern perspective of seafood you are about to enjoy. The listing for the prix fixe tasting menu is very terse, only giving you a little hint of what you might be enjoying. There are also bites before, between, after the list, so be prepared for quite a meal if you go for the whole dinner versus the pre theater version. I think we were there at Roe PDX for almost 3 hours.
Roe PDX Roe PDX

Here’s a look at my culinary journey for this first dinner at Roe PDX. If you want the TLDR; I loved it. If I didn’t already have plans for New Year’s Eve, I would be here at Roe PDX for NYE.

We were greeted by the sommelier shortly after sitting down and asked if we would want to be welcomed with bubbles. Of course, I never say no to bubbles! We also would be doing his choice for a pairing for all the courses – my favorite was his pairing of a sake with the scallop, and also choosing a funky almost sour beer type wine for the Abalone (I sorta wish he went all the way and just went ahead with a sour beer), and later light port wine with the Walu. Go ahead and put yourself in his capable hands.

Anyway, with the tubbles, we were presented with a trio of amuse-bouches (not listed on the menu).
Roe PDX, Amuse Bouche Trio Roe PDX, Amuse Bouche Trio Roe PDX, Amuse Bouche Trio Roe PDX, Amuse Bouche Trio

Our first course, simply labeled Scallop on the menu, was a lamb and scallop tartare with turmeric.
Roe PDX, lamb and scallop tartare with turmeric Roe PDX, lamb and scallop tartare with turmeric

Abalone I forgot to take notes on this one, but I think this is the seafood version of abalone plus the mushroom type of abalone, combined with pear and sake sauce.
Roe PDX- Abalone with pear and abalone mushroom Roe PDX- Abalone with pear and abalone mushroom

Coastal Shellfish course with all ingredients foraged locally, and this was my first time trying barnacle (which you see plated along with mussel and crabmeat).
Roe PDX- Coastal Shellfish course

Nairagi, also known as striped marlin, here served with a squid ink pasta and broccoli rabe. I almost wish there was a bit more rabe here as it added a nice roasted flavor and hint of crispy texture to the otherwise very soft textured dish.
Roe PDX- Nairagi course, Nairagi is also known as striped marlin, here served with a squid ink pasta

Palate Cleanser
Roe PDX- Palate Cleanser

Salmon course, with gin and tonic inspired botanical flavors (shown before and after saucing at the table)
Roe PDX - Salmon course, with gin and tonic inspired botanical flavors Roe PDX - Salmon course, with gin and tonic inspired botanical flavors

Walu – my favorite course. I still remember at the original restaurant the aromas of the porcini butterfish and I was super happy to see a version of that dish was brought back at the new Roe PDX. I think that porcini crusted butterfish has been one of the classic dishes of Chef Trent from his first seafood ventures. This time the butterfish was being served in a play of surf and turf, with the butterfish standing in for the steak and a fish sauced surf providing Asian flavors for a play on East and West too.
Roe PDX - Walu course, the butterfish was being served in a play of surf and turf, with the butterfish standing in for the steak and a fish sauced turf providing Asian flavors for a play on East and West too Roe PDX - Walu course, the butterfish was being served in a play of surf and turf, with the butterfish standing in for the steak and a fish sauced turf providing Asian flavors for a play on East and West too Roe PDX - Walu course, the butterfish was being served in a play of surf and turf, with the butterfish standing in for the steak and a fish sauced turf providing Asian flavors for a play on East and West too Roe PDX - Walu course, the butterfish was being served in a play of surf and turf, with the butterfish standing in for the steak and a fish sauced turf providing Asian flavors for a play on East and West too

Pre-dessert – a fantastic deydrated crunchy flakes of carrot cake with cheesecake ball – so good!
Roe PDX - Pre-dessert - a fantastic deydrated crunchy flakes of carrot cake with cheesecake ball - so good!

Caramel, the actual listed dessert course, here with chocolate mousse and banana and coffee sauce
Roe PDX - Caramel, the actual listed dessert course, here with chocolate mousse and banana and coffee sauce

No, were’re not done yet! Mignardises
Roe PDX - after pre dessert and actual dessert listed on the menu, there's still mignardises! Roe PDX - after pre dessert and actual dessert listed on the menu, there's still mignardises! Roe PDX - after pre dessert and actual dessert listed on the menu, there's still mignardises! Roe PDX - after pre dessert and actual dessert listed on the menu, there's still mignardises!

As you can see from the dishes and my dinner experience, this is definitely a fine dining venue serving contemporary combinations on the plate and you would not be out of place coming to dine here in a suit or cocktail dress, though that isn’t necessary. These dishes would not be out of place (for probably twice the price tag) in New York or San Francisco. The atmosphere is perfect for a romantic date or intimate dinner with friends or business partners And, is it wrong that finally, I find and applaud a restaurant in PDX where the tables are spaced at a nice comfortable distance to give you some space for your conversation?

Are you a fan of restaurants that are a little hidden like this one is? What do you think of the intimate way they welcome guests in that foyer and warming up in an otherwise plain room before entering the restaurant?

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Comments

  1. We’re dining here finally next week and I can’t wait! The food looks fantastic – I can’t pick which one would be my fave. And I totally subscribe to the same “never say no to bubbles” philosophy. 🙂

  2. OH MY. That food looks so delicious. I love tasting menus—they’re a great chance to try the best of a chef’s dishes!

  3. This does look like it would be a fun spot for NYE. The caramel dessert looked super delicious!

  4. Elizabeth A Shepherd says:

    My mouth is watering reading your review. I can’t wait to dine at Roe!

    • Miss you and hope you’ve been keeping warm from the frigid winds last week and the big temperature drop coming this week – we’ll need to make another eat and drink date to kick off 2018! Thanks for stopping by and reading!

  5. Exciting! Wow, looks like a beautiful place, and delicious stuff!!

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