Restaurant Guide 2013: The Woodsman Tavern

4537 SE Division St., 971-373-8264,

[GILDED LUNCH LADYLAND] Admit it. You're confused. You've finally been seated. The Woodsman's space is well-appointed, with all the hallmarks of a typical fine-dining experience. There's red brick and dark wood everywhere and a well-stocked bar, and the menu shows a $68 rib-eye. Then you notice the corn dogs ($3) and side plates of beanie-weenie ($5) and deviled eggs ($2)? Did you get lost at some point and end up in some bizarro parochial-school cafeteria/Lutheran picnic, and oh God, did you really just order a $28 plate of meatloaf? Then the compressed watermelon salad ($11) arrives. And it's stunning, the melon infused with basil in the compression process, the sweet red onion adding the barest heat and tang. And you tuck into the whole roasted trout ($22), completely deboned and swimming in acqua pazza, the clear, sweet tomato-and-herb broth worthy on its own. And the meatloaf? Worth every penny of that $28, beefy, fluffy, surely they must have used a panade but there's no hint of it. And you finally realize this is one of the most grandly Portland dining establishments in town and Sister Mary-Margaret isn't lurking behind one of the curtains with a ruler to rap your knuckles for putting your elbows on the table. And you relax. And order some fries ($4) with mayo and Sriracha for dessert.

Ideal meal: Anything + fries + whole roasted trout.

Best deal: BLT salad ($12).

Pro Tip: If you aren't interested in the entire domestic ham flight ($18), just focus on the Benton's ($8); it's got the best smoke-flavor profile.

5-10 pm daily, brunch 9 am-2 pm Saturday-Sunday. $$-$$$$.


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.