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October 24th, 2007 Mike Thelin | Eat Me
 

At First Bite

New joints, good coffee and beach food.

     
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Seven Virtues co-owner Michael Blair
IMAGE: meghann gilligan

That Portland’s South Waterfront was predestined to become a beach town is not a surprise. Right from the get-go, its deep-pocketed master planners—including Pearl honcho Homer Williams—intended to entice a population of dog-walking condo dwellers, just as you’d find in any beach town.

SoWa’s tiny beach sports the only river views in Portland not obscured by concrete overpasses or freeway noise. And who can forget the aerial tram, Portland’s sleek and spendy version of a boardwalk carnival ride that costs four bucks a trip and is far cooler than any Tilt-A-Whirl?

And now, SoWa’s even attracted beach food .

Bella Espresso’s South Waterfront shop (3580 SW River Parkway, 467-7532) is much like its original Cannon Beach location—both a mocha mecca with a fondness for faux-renaissance clutter and a quiet lunch spot to savor good sandwiches, cheesecake, imported gelato and local baked goods. What’s more, Bella owners Kevin and Julie Countryman and James Faurentino will import a branch of their other Cannon Beach establishment, gourmet pizzeria Pizza a’ Fetta , to the ground floor of SoWa’s John Ross tower this January. Eat Me eagerly awaits the arrival of kite stores and saltwater taffy shops.

That’s not all. Across the street, an upscale eatery called Orupa (Oregon + Europe, get it?) will debut this winter in the stunning Atwater Place tower. These new restaurants will add more to the already solid offerings found at Le Hana Japanese Bar and Grill (3570 SW River Parkway, 681-3885) and the tarragon-chicken-loving Daily Cafe (3335 SW Bond Ave., 224-9691) .

Back on the mainland, there are more new eats on the horizon: An Indian restaurant called the East India Company will open later this fall in the historic Medical Dental Building at Southwest 11th Avenue and Taylor Street, just a flapjack’s toss from Leo’s Non-Smoking Coffee Shop. On Portland’s eastern shore, Eastburn will make its home in the former Nocturnal space at Southeast 18th Avenue and East Burnside Street. Restaurant world newbies Mike and Matt Bender are planning a neighborhood eatery that serves Northwest-sourced American and European fare in a dining room, patio and large basement lounge.

The just-opened Seven Virtues (5936 NE Glisan St., 236-7763) is my pick as Portland’s next espresso haven. Michael Blair and Misa Kawada abandoned careers in adolescent therapy and Chinese medicine, respectively, to caffeinate the masses from an airy space filled with bamboo cabinetry and concrete countertops, anchored by a shiny stainless steel Synesso espresso machine. So far, Seven Virtues does its coffee right with Stumptown beans pulled as ristretto-style (short and stout) espresso, creamy macchiattos, frothy cappuccinos and baked goods by both Crema and local vegan outfit Sweetpea Bakery.

 
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