During my last trip to Europe, I spent a fair amount of time in the Alpine region and frankly, I don’t remember most of the places I ate at being nearly as posh as Grüner, Portland’s principal purveyor of “cozy Alpine cuisine.” Not that I’m complaining, I like a little posh in my life as much as the next girl, and sometimes luxurious leather banquettes and flickering olive-oil fed votives and juniper-cured wild salmon with cucumber-radish salad are far preferable to a sauerkraut overdose and stifling cave-like pubs that reek of stale spilt beer.
Executive chef Chris Israel’s menu is a challenge for any serious diner, Alpine cuisine-savvy or not, because if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to order everything.
Executive chef Chris Israel’s menu is a challenge for any serious diner, Alpine cuisine-savvy or not, because if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to order everything. How do you choose between ricotta and Swiss chard dumplings, double cut pork chops with red wine-poached wild plums, grilled golden trout swimming in horseradish cream, and grilled quail swaddled in pancetta? I agree, you don’t. You’ll have to round up a group of friends, take over the communal table occupying the back of the restaurant, and order everything to share.
The scent of stale spilt beer will not pollute your nostrils in this sleek little restaurant–the signature cocktails mixed and muddled in the aspen-accented adjoining bar are tasty and pack a Teutonic wallop, teetotalers can refresh with a zesty spiced-ginger house soda, and wine lovers will enjoy deciphering the unusual, and sometimes hard to pronounce, wine list. Shall we share a bottle of Blaufränkisch with our sauerbraten, liebchen?
Executive Chef: Chris Israel
Owner: Chris Israel
Atmosphere: Elegant downtown destination for a power lunch or refined dinner, lovely little bar with a top notch happy hour, intimate dining room that feels upscale but not snooty
Outdoor seating: Sidewalk tables
Best Seat: They're all pretty comparable
Noise Level: Lively when the dining room is full but you can still have a conversation, relatively quiet in the small bar
Dress Code: The crowd is normally dressed up a bit, but nobody will toss you out for being casual
Bring the Kids: No
Bathrooms: Up the ramp between the kitchen and the dining room, to the right, down the hall
Parking: Street parking is metered and can be challenging to find
Cocktails: Exceptional house cocktails ($9-$11), brandy flights, full bar; also, next door sister bar Kask is one of the best cocktail spots in the city
Beer: Six taps (four German, two OR) $8, three bottled ($7-$9), one hard cider ($12)
Wine: Excellent selection of European and Oregon wines by the glass ($9-$14) and bottle $40-$115; two barrel wines
Ideal Meal: Raclette croquettes, smashed fingerlings, tarte flambe, Grüner salad, burger, spätzle, coq au Riesling, citrus cream roulade
Vegetarian Friendly: Yes
Good for the following occasions: Date Night, Special & Splurgey, Pre-Theater, Group Dining
Group/Private Party Details: The private Glacier Room can accommodate up to 16 people seated comfortably, or 25 people standing (adjoining bar Kask can be rented along with the room); the semi-private Stammtisch ‘family table’ seats up to 10 people and is adjacent to the restaurant dining room; the entire restaurant can be bought out for lunch or dinner
Reservations: Yes, call 503.241.7163 or reserve online at Open Table