2001 WAS A YEAR IN WHICH NOTHING COULD STOP THE POWER OF FOOD. The GNP (Gross National Phlavor) indicators point to an increase in eating between meals, as the rate of unemployment rose to new heights. The events of Sept. 11, which shook our world, also helped individuals determine precisely whether they are the type to overeat during times of stress or the type whose stomach is infected with waves of nausea when faced with tragedy of unprecedented proportions.
DRINKING is BACK, as reported in The New York Times. So are sleazy one-night stands encouraged by evenings of elbow lifting (and rubbing) at comforting water holes. Still, the battle of edible vs. edible continues.
IN PORTLAND, OREGON, nothing expressed the recent fervor to embrace other cultures in a bear hug of understanding quite like the results of a recent WWNN Extra! Poll showing that 4 out of 5 residents of this city enjoy a French meal at least twice a week. In 2001, Tartine (1621 SE Bybee Blvd., 239-5796)) and Zinc Bistrot (500 NW 21st Ave., 223-9696) opened to meet the swelling demand. The same poll showed that if you refer to French people as "frogs" in a restaurant guide, chances are 100 percent that one old lady and one former French national will call to complain. When asked to comment, 2001 Beard-award winning chef of the Northwest region and Normandy native Philippe Boulot said, "I consider it a term of affection." Voilà!
SPEAKING OF VOILÀ, sources close to the area of Northeast Fremont Street near Nature's report an upheaval in the shopping strip near 13th Avenue. An invasion of two new places--Cajun haunt Acadia (1303 NE Fremont St., 249-5001) and kid-focused Peanut Butter and Ellie's (1325 NE Fremont St., 282-1783)--sprung up in a collaborative showing of diversity.
LUNCH TOOK SOME HITS due to the rough economic landscape. Both Saucebox (214 SW Broadway, 241-3393) and Bluehour (250 NW 13th Ave., 226-3394) discontinued daytime service, as did meat palace El Gaucho (319 SW Broadway, 227-8794). All are expected to survive the heavy shelling with a strong showing on the dinner front.
A RECENTLY RELEASED STATE REPORT points to a growing dissatisfaction with nighttime casual wear among the city's blossoming post-post-Cocktail Nation set, who use the newly raised Tube (8 NW 3rd Ave., 241-8823), a cylindrical hermetic hotspot, and Lush (610 NW Couch St., 223-5874), a restaurant and bar lovingly spread out over 6,400 square feet in Old Town, as headquarters. Though this defiant army of aesthetes is strong, there are indications that money-wielding, fleece-wearing Oregon patriots will overrun the insurgents, as they have so many times in the past.
THIS JUST IN: For residents of a cold rainy city, warm climes inspire a frenzy of exciting nibbles from new restaurant warriors. XV (15 SW 2nd Ave., 790-9090) unleashed a spray of Caribbean delights this year; Mint (816 N Russell St., 284-5518) rat-a-tat-tatted North Portland with its bright version of Nuevo Latino; Taqueria Nueve (28 NE 28th Ave., 236-6195) attacked with its reinvention of Mexican classics.
RECENT INTERCEPTED COMMUNICATIONS between commanders and those in the field have been decoded, and WWNN has just learned that fans of Richie B.'s East Coast-style eatery are perplexed and confused as to why this Northwest Portland favorite for subs and pizza changed its name to the grammatically challenged Tribute's (2272 NW Kearney St., 299-1200) this year. They love the big lug and his meatball wedges, regardless.
IN A SURPRISING WIN, Rose's (828 NW 23rd Ave., 222-5292) returned triumphantly to govern its former region of Northwest 23rd Avenue, while Macheezmo Mouse (723 SW Salmon St., 248-0917) returned to its former Southwest Salmon Street camp after retreating three years previously.
CABINET MEMBERS ARE MEETING to discuss plans to install the latest puppet performer in the sound systems of area restaurants. The search is on for repetitive, yet soothing and urbane, tunes. This year's leader in the field, Moby's Play--which deposed Pink Martini's Sympathique in a bloody battle--will most likely face upstarts The Strokes' Is This It in an attempted coup.
OTHER NEW FACTIONS creating a groundswell of support on the Portland front:
Scarlet Begonias (upscale, artistic and expensive), Northwest Portland
Cafe Castagna (cheaper, faster, better), Southeast Portland
Piazza Italia (just like Italy if Italy were filled with loud, poorly dressed Americans), Pearl District
Sala (new venture from the Italian stallions of Il Piatto), Southeast Portland
Bella Faccia (freakin' awesome East coast-style pizza), Northeast Portland
Daily Cafe (fancy food at unfancy prices, inspired Sunday brunch), Pearl District
COLLATERAL DAMAGE: As in any contest, there were some losses in the fight to win the stomachs of Portlanders this year. Rest in Peace:
Original Portland Ice Cream Parlour
Red Electric Cafe
Grand Central Baking's Black Bear breads