Holdfast Dining is one of the most impressive experiences in Portland food, a nine-course ride through nitrogen-frozen melon and a legendary honeycombed madeleine. But it's also $105 just to walk inside.
The lights get lower, and the music gets louder. The crowd feels hip—it's a lot of service workers enjoying their first night off after a busy weekend. "We wanted an opportunity to do something very different and more casual," Preisch tells WW. "Adam had just come back from being out of the country, and we wanted to join forces, give him a creative platform to showcase his work."
Perhaps the signature drink on Robinson's cocktail list is the Casper's Ghost ($12), a rhum-and-mezcal number spiked with bitter melon syrup, an ingredient Robinson picked up in Taiwan. Elsewhere, riffs on elevated tiki merge with left-field whimsy, as in the Who Is Jack Nance? ($10), a whiskey drink containing sesame, mustard and egg yolk.
The food menu flirts with fusion—think kimchi mac and cheese ($12), or Buffalo chicken skin nachos ($12)—without veering into Guy Fieri territory. But get the fried prawn heads with spicy mayo and togarashi ($3 each). It's like the best part of a sushi dinner, without the rest of the sushi.
And fuck me, those madeleines (one for $4, two for $6) are as good as the hype, laden with shaved lardo, Parmesan and honeycomb, and best paired with a glass of wine from staff "winesman" and Golden Cluster winemaker Jeff Vejr. Because while the food is indeed a progressive take on bar snacks, and the cocktails transcend the tired suspender-y trendiness of the modern American scene, Vejr's personal stash of wine is transcendent, whether sherry, rare Georgian wine or an Oregon blanc de noir from Idealist Wines ($10) that turned honey-sweet with the madeleine.