E+D Spring 2016
AFTER MONTHS OF DELAYS and mouthwatering teases, the "hard hats required" sign at the Pine Street Market has been taken down. The construction clutter is giving way to a food hall with stalls from some of Portland's top-flight chefs. Communal tables are in, string lights are strung, and come May 1, downtown eaters can officially spend a full work shift eating their way through each open stall.
The Pine Street Market, a $4.7 million remodel of the United Carriage and Transfer Building at SW 2nd and Pine, is the long-awaited Portland answer to the hyper-trendy food halls that have popped up in New York, New Orleans, and San Francisco. After touring various locations—including the lauded Gotham West Market in New York—developers Jean-Pierre Veillet, David Davies, and Rob Brewster and culinary curator Mike Thelin hatched their local master plan.
The deal: 10,000 square feet of brand-new concepts from established names in the local food world. The market gets instant name recognition, while restaurateurs get to experiment on a small scale.
"Rent is going up big time," Veillet told the Mercury on a tour of the space before it opened to the public. "This gives everybody who has established themselves a chance to still evolve at a lower price point, and to flourish."
The result is a spectacular homage to the old building, tricked out with modern subway tiles, café lights, brass finishes, and monumental skylights. There's artisanal toast, but it's under beams salvaged from the original interior.
Thelin, who also is a co-founder of the high-end annual event Feast Portland, got to work rounding up vendors. First up was coffee bar Barista, then meat purveyors Olympia Provisions, followed by Ken Forkish (Trifecta, Ken's Artisan Pizza, and Ken's Artisan Bakery), who threw in his ovens for breakfast and lunch options. Salt & Straw decided to try their hand at soft serve and other updated childhood classics, along with European Asian restaurant Common Law and ramen spot Marukin. And John Gorham—who has two stalls, the Israeli Shalom Y'all and the Spanish Pollo Bravo—also came aboard.
"It was different than filling a restaurant space; we had to think of what would work in a high-volume market," Thelin says. "And the different concepts couldn't compete with each other."
Some big names drifted in and out: Former Castagna chef Matt Lightner considered a stall in the market, and Country Cat owners Adam and Jackie Sappington pulled their healthy food-and-juice bar not long before opening. But Thelin said he had some replacements in mind from when he was asked to help organize the space.
Elias Cairo, co-owner of Olympia Provisions, said he and his partner Nate Tilden got a call from Thelin not long after they'd turned down a spot in NYC's Gotham West Market. The duo immediately landed on a space in Pine Street to showcase their cult-status frankfurters, along with a deli case.
The two tapped their sous chef, Victor Deras, and along with a basic dog, there's an eclectic menu of dressed-up frankfurters that put many burger spots to shame. Cairo says he's excited to see a group grab a hot dog, a bowl from Marukin Ramen, and dishes from other stands, and just pass the food around.
"You'll just sit down with five people willing to do it and go crazy"—just like you could at a food cart pod, Cairo says. "Maybe this is a little more elevated; there are such talented people around."
Forkish (who has a James Beard Award for his Flour Water Salt Yeast cookbook) says the bustle of the market was a perfect match for his growing empire. Mornings will feature bakery items, along with fancy toast, while afternoons will include Forkish's pizzas by the slice or whole. His Trifecta Tavern (at SE 6th and Morrison) needs more foot traffic to be "ideal" for a bakery, he explains.
"The Pine Street Market seemed like a way to take bread and croissants from Trifecta's bakery and take them to where the people are," Forkish says. "Then I thought about doing a different style of pizza from what we make at Ken's Artisan Pizza, bought some Baker's Pride deck ovens, and here we are!"
The market is expecting plenty of traffic. Thelin and Veillet declined to say if they'd made crowd estimates, but they're definitely banking on it being a major culinary destination for downtown workers and tourists. They've put Salt & Straw's Wiz Bang Bar, an "adult Dairy Queen" at the corner of the building at SW 2nd and Pine, with its own separate entrance for the lines that will inevitably form.
Communal tables with room for 175 are in the center of the market, and some places, like Common Law from Langbaan's Earl Ninsom and Patrick McKee, formerly of Paley's Place, have seats of their own. Special permits have been worked out with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to allow drinks from each stall to be consumed in the communal area.
"This is only going to draw more energy to the neighborhood, and that can only be good," Veillet says.
For the developers and the chefs involved, one of the top personal draws is the chance to be under the same roof with their high-end counterparts. Cairo says he's already anticipating some good after-hours confabs at the market.
"I've known all these people, and we've had so many great experiences at food festivals," Cairo says. "To put us all under one roof is going to be so amazing."
Brass Bar (Tenant 1)
Brass Bar is the fifth outlet from Portland's Billy Wilson, founder of Barista. But this one has a new twist: While other Barista shops curate top-tier beans, Brass Bar will also feature a house-proprietary bean along with other blends. Expect the usual perfect espresso along with tea, bottled cold brew, and a sleek, tile-heavy buildout. Wilson promises to pull shots himself, and the teas will be blended by Jed Klingensmith, whom Wilson refers to as Barista's "culinary mastermind."
Shalom Y'All (Tenant 2/3)
In early April, chef Kasey Mills was still roving Israel, getting his final inspiration on point for Shalom Y'All, one of two stalls inhabited by John Gorham—he of the fine dining empire of Toro Bravo, Tasty n Sons, Tasty n Alder, and Mediterranean Exploration Company (MEC). Shalom Y'All is a street-food sibling to MEC and promises to serve up seasonal vegetable-heavy dishes including falafel, Gorham's house-made pita bread, salads, and that tomato-and-egg delight, shakshuka, from Tasty n Sons that's so popular that copycats have made the Israeli dish a cliché on Portland brunch menus. Wine, cocktails, and Israeli beer are available for drinking.
OP Wurst (Tenant 4)
Olympia Provision's Wurst is the best. Ranked by the Mercury as one of the top hot dogs in all of the city, OP Wurst provides daily access—and kicks it up 1,000 notches. Along with a foot-long that would make Oscar Mayer weep, OP salumist Elias Cairo says sous chef Victor Deras has gone seriously dog crazy, concocting items like a Caesar salad dog, a cauliflower mac 'n' cheese with a whole frank baked in, and a poutine dog. "I really love the Hound Dog, which is a peanut butter, banana, and bacon hot dog," Cairo says. "It's a twist on the Elvis Presley sandwich." Along with a to-go deli case for all your salami needs, Cairo says he's most excited to see people pair their humble hot dog with half-sized bottles of Grower Champagne for the ultimate high-brow/low-brow experience.
Trifecta Annex (Tenant 5)
In the very back of the Pine Street Market is a very forward new stall from Ken Forkish. With ovens going all the time, Forkish promises a morning menu of amped-up toasts, which blend into an afternoon of New York- and Italian-style pizzas, available both whole and by the slice. Forkish's famous breads will be buzzed in daily for sale. "I never think of a must-try dish, because that seems like I do one or two things especially well with a lot of filler," Forkish says. "I might point away from the obvious, awesomely new things—like the spelt croissant, the honey-rye ham croissant, the raspberry croissant, the meatball pizza, or the Hawaiian pizza—and single out something simple and sublime that might not be as loud and sexy, like walnut toast with Trifecta butter and honey."
Common Law (Tenant 6)
The union of former Paley's Place executive chef Patrick McKee and Langbaan's Earl Ninsom can only be one of bliss. This micro restaurant, combining Ninsom's Asian background with McKee's European pedigree, will feature 10 to 15 rotating dishes, like a beef tongue banh mi and spiced bone marrow and mussels toast. Common Law has bar seating and a few tables in its spot on the Southeast corner of the market—a perfect hideaway for grabbing a drink from Alan Akwai's drink program.
Salt & Straw Wiz Bang Bar (Tenant 8)
Dilly bars and choco tacos made by Salt & Straw?! Don't worry, this new sit-down soft-serve dessert bar already has its own door into the market—just so people can form the inevitable line out of it and down the block. Don't look for the famous scoops of ice cream at Salt & Straw's NE Alberta, SE Division, and NW 23rd locations—this one's all sundaes, soft serve, and other swirls of childhood nostalgia, all given S&S's creative treatment.
Marukin Ramen (Tenant 9)
Marukin Ramen has already started slinging bowls that are a thing of beauty on SE Ankeny: Hopefully this Tokyo ramen chain's second location will spread out the crowds. Open in Japan since 1994, the owners are taking their operation stateside by sourcing local ingredients, like pork from Carlton Farms. Make sure you snag the deeply rich pork tonkotsu when it's available, or the special-to-Portland creamy chicken paitan, and wash it down with Asahi on draft. It's right across from the Salt & Straw stall, making a big concentration of delicious in one small space.
Pollo Bravo (Tenant 10)
Seeing Pollo Bravo's spatchcocked, golden-skinned Nicky Farms chicken is an instant drool inducer. The other John Gorham-sponsored stall at Pine Street Market is all chicken and tapas, providing a terrific counterpoint to his Shalom Y'All. Pollo Bravo's bird is inspired by spots in Barcelona and Madrid, as well as the chicken al carbon chef Josh Scofield noshed on in Mexico. Order signature tapas dishes from Toro Bravo at the counter after work, and grab a whole bird for the family (or just yourself—we won't judge).