Departure Is Reopening May 1 Following Several Months of Renovations

Both the menu and the dining room décor have been updated.

Departure Napa cabbage and Asian pear salad. Photo by Anna Stancioff.

Departure, one of Portland’s trailblazing rooftop restaurants that helped kick off a recent boom, is reopening its panoramic perch.

Now, if you just read that and asked, “Wait, Departure closed?,” you’re not alone. We assumed the 15th-floor bar and dining room in The Nines Hotel had carried on as normal this past winter, serving overnight guests and townies celebrating special occasions. But Departure apparently (and very quietly) halted service in January so that the space could be refurbished. According to a statement issued April 25 by the company’s PR firm, Departure retained all of its staff.

So what renovations can you expect when the restaurant officially opens May 1? The release indicated the touch-ups were subtle, but include new bamboo flooring, tiling, updated blue upholstery and light fixtures.

The menu’s refresh may be a bit more obvious. Culinary director Matt Christianson and chef de cuisine Jason West kept the Pan-Asian theme, which has been in place since Departure opened in 2009, but there will be some new items. One of those is mapo tofu, a traditional Sichuan dish, with mazeman noodles, sugar snap peas, Fresno chile, crispy mushrooms and a chile crisp that will appear in the à la carte “Arrival” section of offerings.

Departure Lemongrass chicken katsu. Photo by Anna Stancioff.

However, longtime fans will still be able to order the pre-renovation herb sweet chile Departure wings, steakhouse bibimbap and steam buns stuffed with lap cheong sausage or crispy tempeh. You can also expect an Experience Menu: a three-course, prix fixe dinner for $65. The initial lineup of entrees includes a red misoyaki halibut as well as the kushiyaki flatiron.

Spring views from the breezy rooftop can be accompanied by a selection of fresh cocktails developed by manager Billy Poplarchik, but be prepared to shell out for those new concoctions.

The pink-hued Spring Awakening—Roky Gin, Joto Yuzu Sake, Mancino Sakura Vermouth and Paychaud’s Bitters—will set you back 20 bucks a drink. The slightly less expensive Mount Sakurajima ($18) is described as more herbal in flavor, thanks largely to the use of green tea-infused whiskey. Either way you go, we hope there’s enough booze to catch a buzz with those price tags since some of the views from the 15th story, like the vandalized Jackson Tower standing over Pioneer Square, are now marred.

If you’re in the mood to splurge, Departure and The Nines are offering a package deal on the hotel’s website. Visitors who book the offer will get an overnight stay, a guaranteed reservation for two at the restaurant and a $200 gift card to help pay for dinner.

Departure’s hours will be 4-11 pm Wednesday through Sunday after May 1.

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