Restaurant Guide 2013: Genoa

2832 SE Belmont St., 238-1464,

[JAKE'S FAMOUS HALIBUT] The entrance to deeply old-school, old-money Genoa looks like the truncated lobby of a hotel, and beyond black curtains the dining room looks a bit like a hotel bedroom, with gilded mirrors, innocuous landscape art, a gaudy marble tabletop for wine and a screened fireplace. One needs only a four-poster bed and some pay-per-view. The service is strangely nervous unless you've been before, which most of its Laurelhurst patrons have, possibly since decades ago. Cathy Whims, John Taboada, Tommy Habetz…they've all cooked here, and the legacy weighs heavy. The wine list is imposing and the five-course menu is a non-negotiable $65, with dishes sometimes as fustian as the décor. But the kitchen's heights, when achieved, are still lofty under new chef Jake Martin, including a recent duck-breast dish with chamomile that added strawberry reduction to strawberry to create an aching density of flavor, and a delicate crusted halibut dish that stacked lobster mushroom on mushroom puree. Nonetheless, the most joyous thing on a recent visit was a tipsy-seeming couple, unaccustomed to such comforts, out for a fancy birthday dinner. "I love you so much," one of the pair loudly declared, to the visible discomfort of service staff. "I want to be with you forever!" Genoa's food still impresses, a cloying raspberry fromage blanc aside. But four decades in, it should muster more of that type of enthusiasm if it, too, wants to be with us forever. 

Ideal meal: "Ideal" and "only" coincide: five courses, $65.

Best deal: The best deal is probably at Accanto, next door.

Pro tip: Cocktails almost always cost less than the cheapest glasses of wine, with a better hit rate.

5:30-9 pm Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday; 5:30-9:30 pm Friday-Saturday. $$$$.


WWeek 2015

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.