THE WOODSMAN TAVERN, Stumptown Coffee's Duane Sorenson's debut effort as a full-on restaurateur, embodies a lot of the stereotypes that have come to define our city.

Walk in and you're greeted with a bar-top display case of seafood on ice. Take this as a sign of how to begin your meal. I'd like nothing more than to begin every meal with Shigoku, Newport Bay, and Netarts oysters (and if life was fair, I would).

The next course—in that perfect world—should include the nightly selection of artisan ham. I've never been particularly partial to ham, but La Quercia has made me a believer.

You can also opt for some cheaper drinking snacks or sides (fries $4, deviled eggs $2, pork rinds $4), but more impressive are a couple of the small plates.

On the entrée side, whatever chef Jason Barwikowski is doing with his new toy, a rare charcoal-fire Josper oven, it's working. Everything has a hint of smokiness; the menu seems built around such flavor profiles.

For dessert we opted for the pumpkin bread pudding, which looked like Frank Gehry could have designed it. For a not-so-sweet tooth like myself, it was wonderful—not overly rich or sugary—but those with more decadent tastes might look toward the brownie.

The wine menu isn't as Northwest centric as I anticipated, but it features a lot of interesting bottles for the price.

I've heard grumblings about the service—and I hardly doubt the occasional snobbery—but I have to say, my service was uncommonly good. On a busy Friday evening, I showed up a few minutes before my reservation. We were immediately offered drinks, and when our table took several minutes longer to become available, our round was quickly comped.

So long as you're not expecting the signifiers "Woodsman" or "Tavern" to have anything to do with the signified, you're in for a treat. - TONY PEREZ

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