The name "Leaky Roof" brings to mind dampness and disrepair, but this tiny restaurant tucked away in Goose Hollow is anything but, with warm wood floors, candles and a wood-burning stove heating up the dining room. (And no, the roof doesn't really leak.) The stools at the bar are often filled with jocular customers sipping wine and 12-year-old Jameson. At one table, diners quietly celebrate a birthday with a wine flight and ice cream in a martini glass. In the corner, a guy with an Irish accent belts out Van Morrison's "Moondance." It certainly isn't the picture of cutting-edge, but neither is it stodgy and ostentatious, and this unwillingness to posture makes it a refreshing addition to Portland's restaurant scene.
Open since 1947, the spot used to be a nothing-fancy American grill, but new owners SÉamus and Christina Blaney kicked it up to contemporary global gourmet when they took over last December. (The guy playing "Moondance" is the owner's brother, Conor Blaney.) Irish-style stuffed pork tenderloin ($18) and bacon-wrapped filet mignon ($23) are listed next to Asian crab cakes with wasabi sauce ($19). Christina Blaney, also the chef, does best with decadent items like panko-crusted, quince-spiked brie ($10) and an apple charlotte ($7.50) in a to-die-for toffee sauce. But the rich plates will leave you stuffed silly if you're not careful, so search out lighter items to avoid the need for a wheelbarrow valet. A perfectly tender Parmesan-encrusted barramundi ($17) does the job without doing you in. However, the summer menu's "A Trip to the Bayou," of blackened salmon with dirty rice and sweet-potato fries, was alarmingly salty, though the fries, which also accompany the burgers ($8.50-$10), are totally addictive.
The attitude of the servers is as comfortable and welcoming as the dark-green booths. While well-informed about the menu and wines (many from the Northwest), they impart this knowledge as if speaking to a friend, not their boss.
The Leaky Roof is a cozy spot for a nice meal without the scene, and would be even better for a low-key, upscale happy hour with some good wine and cheese. The Pearl it ain't, but sometimes that's just what you need.
The Leaky Roof, 1538 SW Jefferson St., 222-3745. Breakfast, lunch and dinner 11 am-10 pm Monday-Friday. Brunch 10 am-2:30 pm, dinner 5-10 pm Saturday. Brunch 9:30 am-2:30 pm Sunday.