5 pm-midnight Monday-Wednesday, 5 pm-1 am Thursday-Saturday. $$-$$$ Moderate-expensive.
[COCKTAILS AND CRITTERS] Our 2009 Restaurant of the Year has no intention of coasting on its accolades, as its kitchen continues to put out exquisite, creative dishes that an attentive, enthusiastic staff proudly presents to your table. It's always a good idea to order the ever-changing antipasti plate, as it presents a snapshot of whatever's in season, done up in its Sunday best. A recent example included airy chickpea purée, grilled eggplant, summer tomatoes with smoked goat cheese, and tender lamb meatballs in romesco sauce. The included bruschetta is good, but more than likely the components of the plate will disappear long before you remember it's there. A fried soft-shell crab dish featured beets, peas and potatoes nestled in a creamy sea-urchin vinaigrette, sweet and briny—a deconstructed chowder in small-plate form. Portland restaurants' love affair with Tails & Trotters pork continues here, with one of the farm's pork bellies, braised and glazed in pomegranate, atop a crunchy cabbage slaw that nicely balances the enveloping glory of that hazelnut-fortified fat. Don't forget to avail yourself of a cocktail, as the folks behind the bar don't lag behind their compatriots in the kitchen in flavor acumen. BRIAN PANGANIBAN.
Ideal meal: Anything with pork belly.
Best deal: At $10 ($2 more for meat), the antipasti plate will easily satisfy two.
Chef's choice: Pork cheeks braised with peppers and onions with pickled octopus and aioli. "It's become one of our signature dishes. It's robust and unique. And anything with aioli I love." (Ben Bettinger)