With 150-plus restaurants to check out over the course of three months, this is the biggest (and smallest—more on that in a moment) restaurant issue Willamette Week has ever offered its readers. And we can't wait to share all the tabletop treasures we're excited about with your hungry self—from homespun innovator Le Pigeon, Simpatica (P-town's new Brunch Central) and East Burnside Southern sweetheart Screen Door to delicious local pillars from Genoa to—biz meltdown be damned—clarklewis.
Truth is, this has been the most challenging WW Restaurant Guide I've had the chance to work on. It starts with the size. We've wanted to provide readers with a more hand-friendly guide for years (this issue will fit in most of your glove compartments). And when we decided to change the size, well, that got us to thinking about what other stuff we could change. We still designate each restaurant with a Signature Dish, Standouts and Regrets, but this year we tried (and the emphasis is "tried," here) to rate every restaurant in this guide. Our original (expensive) plan was to have every reviewer rate each and every place. That didn't work. At the end of the day, eating is a subjective, not objective, process. One person's favorite dish might give someone else hives, or worse. But through our intriguing rating debate process we did discover one thing: You can highlight restaurants on individual merits like taste. That's why you'll find spread throughout the guide something we call High Five. In these short features, five of our best contributors recognize restaurants for Taste, Ambience, Service, Innovation and Track Record. You'll also find a wonderfully sassy article that tells what happens when you order Sauce on the Side, as well as directories that separate the restaurants by cuisine and neighborhood.
This is the second year in a row we've decided not to designate an individual restaurant for recognition. Last year we picked an entire restaurant row, Northeast Alberta Street. And this year, we went in a whole other direction. So, what gives? Are we a group of slacker critics having trouble coming to a consensus? Hardly.
When a group of our contributors gathered together for a rowdy dinner and to pick a Restaurant of the Year, we came to the realization that it wasn't so much one place that's defined '06 as it was the folks walking through the back door of those restaurants and stores to drop off cheese and meats or the people selling their wares at our city's raging Farmers Markets (the wine helped us make that decision, of course). Our team of foodie reporters hand-picked food vendors and artisans who create the kind of foodstuffs that have help define what one more pithy than I might call the "Portland Menu." These Artisans of the Year are people we're truly excited about. We hope you are, too.
Now, if you don't see your favorite place, it might be in our Cheap Eats guide (it comes out next spring), or maybe you need to email us (email@example.com) and let us know what we've been missing out on. We've indicated restaurants that have opened since our last guide with a NEW icon and the key for restaurant costs as rated in this guide is:
$$ Moderate: most entrees under $20
$$$ Expensive: most entrees under $30
$$$$ Veeery expensive: most entrees more than $30
And remember, days and hours of operation are subject to change depending on weather and the mood of the chef. Now get out there and start eating. We'll see you at the table.
Editor Byron Beck
Assistant Editor Ben Waterhouse
Contributors Angela Allen, Kevin Allman, Mark Baumgarten, Stephen Marc Beaudoin, Byron Beck, Tiffany Lee Brown, Shoshanna Cohen, Kelly Clarke, Liz Crain, Ian F. Demsky, Tim Duroche, Ian Gillingham, Nigel Jaquiss, Ivy Manning, Amy Mccullough, Nancy Rommelmann, Roger J. Porter, Laura Shinn, Hank Stern, Angela Valdez, Miriam Wolf, Heidi Yorkshire
copy Editors Kat Hyatt, Ian Gillingham, Raymond Rendleman
Art Director Thomas Cobb
Design & Production Renée Bielawski, Erik Blad, Brian Brown, Joe Davis, Maggie Gardner, Tom Humphrey, Matt Wong, Cari Vander Yacht
Photography Jenna Biggs, Tom Oliver, Amy Ouellette. Cover Photo By Jenna Biggs.
Special Thanks To Pascal Sauton And The Staff Of Carafemenu
RESTAURANT GUIDE MENU: INTRODUCTION | YEAR OF THE ARTISAN | OUR 100-PLUS FAVORITE RESTAURANTS (A-G) | OUR 100-PLUS FAVORITE RESTAURANTS (H-M) | OUR 100-PLUS FAVORITE RESTAURANTS (N-Z) | HIGH FIVE | S.O.S.