Le Pigeons Up Front Kitchen
  • Le Pigeon's Up Front Kitchen
It seems Portland restaurateurs can't resist moving their kitchens towards the front of the house. In some cases, this means a simple window opened upon the frenetic staff slaving away for your dinner. In other cases it means a front row seat at a kitchen bar or chef’s table, face to face with the folks firing dishes.

I have to say I’m impressed with those operating beneath the curious gaze of diners. From my brief experience as a line cook, I understand what it’s like to be hit with the stress of a dinner rush and what a relief it is to swear, yell, and/or go crazy in the privacy of the kitchen. Chefs in open kitchens don’t have this luxury, and I have yet to be seated at a kitchen bar where I’ve witnessed someone lose it. Which makes me think maybe all Gordon Ramsay’s paroxysms of profanity are a bit of a put on. (Of course they are.)

As an eater often seated alone at kitchen seats, however, I’ve been faced with a certain dilemma more than once: Do I, or do I not, chat with the prep cooks and chefs working sometimes just two feet away from me?

Occasionally the decision is easy: The chef says “Hello” and the doors of communication are open. In other circumstances, it can feel like you’re on an awkward date. This is tempered when you’re dining with a companion, but alone there is no escape.

I’m curious (as ever), Blogtownies. How do you feel about the art of conversation at an open kitchen? Do you talk to the chef or shy away? Awkward or hot?