Typically, when a restaurateur has space for two projects under one roof, a full-service restaurant gets a big, open area and the bar gets tucked into whatever is left. When people are drinking, I suppose the thinking goes, they don’t mind being somewhere smaller, darker and more hidden.
The new Dossier Hotel decided to do the opposite, situating an Italian restaurant called Omerta in a small subterranean space and giving the airy 2,000-square-foot room up front to Opal Bar (750 SW Alder St., 503-294-9000, opalbarpdx.com). Half of this plan went very poorly—despite a big-name management group including ChefStable’s Kurt Huffman, Omerta closed after just three months of making pasta inside hollowed-out cheese wheels.
Opal Bar is the trade-off. It’s one of the most stylish new bar spaces in town, with 13-foot ceilings criss-crossed in black walnut beams, gorgeous black-and-white-diamond-shaped marble tile floors and inviting jade leather banquettes that snake beautifully around the room.
The drinks are worthy of the space, like the Harlem River ($12) made with aged rum, almond syrup, Borghetti coffee liqueur and citrus served in an oversized crystal tumbler. The bites, sadly, are overpriced and unimpressive—a $14 cheese board with three small wedges, four thin slices of apple and a smear of apricot mustard should have cost half as much.
But the room and the cocktails are grand enough to make up for it.