Depending on how long you've been in Portland, that could be because it occupies a familiar space: Wildwood, the landmark restaurant that served Northwest Portland for 20 years before closing in 2014. More likely, though, it's because the aesthetic seems taken directly from a New Portland design template.
But that's not necessarily a bad thing. In terms of décor, West fits the understated yet upscale character of the neighborhood. The bar and restaurant half acts as a holding area for overflow guests at the West event space, and it's got all the signatures of a Portland business circa 2019: leafy green plants, wide white spaces, pale mint-colored bar tiles with a plaster wall-art installation evoking a spa. It also has a long row of candlelit couple tables decorated with fresh wildflowers, reminiscent of the chic restaurants the Real Housewives visit on their contractual vacations.
Naturally, the cocktails are craft pieces begging to be 'Grammed. The Heirloom & Rye Hi-Ball ($9) is a bittersweet apple soda with a splash of whiskey. The High Desert Swizzle ($11) is a sweet-spicy blend of tequila, suze, fruit juice and pink peppercorn that looks as pretty as it tastes, while the Damselfly ($10) is a refined mix of aquavit, Tanqueray vodka, vermouth, absinthe and bitters. With a sunken lemon peel in a chilled glass, it reveals its layers when paired with the dinner options.
Speaking of, the pork pâté ($8-$12), with its cornichons, red onion strips, Dijon mustard and focaccia toast, mollifies your justifications for ordering a deconstructed half-sandwich. The ranch deviled eggs with trout roe and dill ($5), meanwhile, feels more like a conceptual eggs-on-eggs moment than a snack. For the money, you're better off ordering the more flavorful and textured herbed chicken with kale ($18) and a side of fries ($5) than the short-rib frites ($20). The latter's brown gravy competes with aioli for prominence, and while the short rib tears with no knife, the use of kale in the chicken dish balances fried crunch with juicy softness.
It's obviously too early to tell if West will live up to its predecessor's reputation, but it seems up for the challenge. As the neighborhood develops and changes, West already feels fully realized, ready to host neighbors and destination travelers.