Irving Street Kitchen

Irving Street Kitchen’s owners have a knack for creating convivial gustatory gathering places for food lovers, places where the joyful mood matches the memorable food and you want to take the light fixtures home and the drinks seem to reorder themselves. At least, my drinks seem to.

There are curtained booths–little wooden oases from the merry melee–and if you’re a recluse or want to get romantic or need a nap after downing the salmon gravlax benedict and blackberry crème fraiche-smothered cornmeal waffle during Sunday brunch, you can close the curtains and hide/smooch/nap.

The first Portland venture by a trio of well-known San Francisco restaurateurs, Irving Street Kitchen has a lot going for it. It lies in the trendy, spendy Pearl District (which insures a steady stream of well-heeled middle-aged empty nesters and a high concentration of attractive young yuppie-types), it’s pretty (and everyone knows prettiness will take you far), it’s got a hoppin’ bar (and everyone knows a hoppin’ bar will take you far), and executive chef Sarah Schafer’s creative Southern-influenced New American cuisine feels both sophisticated and hearty, with dishes like creamed white corn soup with chanterelles, maple-smoked brook trout and arugula salad, and grilled duck sausage over gingersnap basmati rice.

It’s the sort of place you can take almost anyone—a date, colleagues, family, friends, amiable ex’s—and have an excellent time. The service is friendly and accommodating, the Angels on Horseback will leave you with a bacon-oyster buzz for days, the cocktails are artfully stirred and shaken, and the bar has local wines on tap.

There are even curtained booths – little wooden oases from the merry melee – and if you’re a recluse or want to get romantic or need a nap after downing the salmon gravlax benedict and blackberry crème fraiche-smothered cornmeal waffle during Sunday brunch, you can close the curtains and hide/smooch/nap, whilst plotting how to nick the milk-bottle chandeliers.

Details

Cuisine: New American

Executive Chef: Sarah Schafer

Owner: Mitch Rosenthal, Steven Rosenthal, Doug Washington

Atmosphere: Sophisticated but approachable, fitting for a casual dinner or a dress-up date

Outdoor seating: Yes, a long sheltered patio offers respite from the blazing summer sun and an unobstructed view of the NW 13th Avenue & 24 Hour Fitness foot traffic

Best Seat: There isn't a bad seat in the house--the warm wood booths are cozy for dates or intimate dinner parties, the patio tables are prime seating in fair weather, and a spot in the main dining room puts you in the thick of things

Noise Level: Enthusiastic

Dress Code: Go casual or dress up if you like, anything goes

Bring the Kids: Why not, they'll love the sugar and spice donuts on the weekend brunch menu

Bathrooms: Down the hallway in the back of the bar area

Parking: Street parking is metered (Mon-Sat 8am-7pm, Sun 1-7pm) and can be difficult to find

Cocktails: The well-done cocktail list is a mixture of both classics and originals

Beer: Half dozen west coast brews on draft, nearly a dozen canned and bottled beers both local and international

Wine: Wines by the glass $7-$14, bottles $22-$96

Corkage: $18 per bottle, limit two bottles

Coffee: Stumptown

Ideal Meal: Angels on Horseback, meatballs, Bibb lettuce salad, Johnston County ham with biscuits and red pepper jelly, fried chicken, strawberry lavender soda float

Vegetarian Friendly: Most of the dishes are meaty, but there are a few nice vegetarian options on the menu

Group/Private Party Details: The restaurant's private dining room can accommodate 80-150 people, and you can also arrange for a complete buyout if you like

Reservations: Yes, call or go on OpenTable