Set in a former auto-upholstery shop called Spike's, Trifecta is where Rizzo and Kenickie would've gone for dinner and drinks if they'd grown up, put all that high school bullshit behind them and gotten jobs in advertising. In keeping with its roots, the cavernous inner-eastside restaurant manages to feel raucous but intimate at the same time, with a lively bar that gives way to big, cushy booths.
Trifecta is so named not just because it's the third restaurant project from Ken Forkish of bread and pizza fame, but because it was conceived as three things at once: a bar that could stand alone as a cocktail haven, an eastside bakery for Forkish, and a restaurant helmed by Higgins alum Rich Meyer devoted to hearth fires and the deeply American comforts of the mid-Atlantic, from baked oysters to ham and hot rolls to wood-fired chicken with white-corn grits. It's hard to make a mistake when ordering, but in deference to the large, white, wood-burning oven that dominates the open kitchen, aim to order anything that's been touched by fire. That includes bar manager Colin Carroll's spectacular "wood-fired" cocktails, which hasten the barrel-aging process by sous-viding mixed drinks with charred wood or bone marrow.
The seasonal romano, yellow wax and dragon's tongue beans snapped perfectly to the tooth, with a char so perfect it looked painted on. A bright citrus tang from the lemongrass and cilantro leavened the hot and savory oysters Trifecta, baked with pork sausage under a crust of bread crumbs. Sop up the oysters' salty, briny juices with a complimentary plate of bread (the butter is $4) from Forkish's bakery empire.
But you can also go lowbrow and feel great about it. The pimento double cheeseburger and smoked, smashed and fried potatoes are as good a dinner as any in town. And in case you somehow missed that the owner is a baker, don't skip dessert—there was fork-clashing over the seasonal wood-fired mille-feuille, a puff pastry served with maple ice cream and layered with custard and peach compote.
Pro tip: Trifecta is one of the best walk-in restaurants you'll find in Portland, with a good chance a party of two can skate in on a Thursday. Trifecta reserves half of its seating for people who come in off the street.