5425 NE 30th Ave., 841-6968, beastpdx.com
[THE INSTITUTION] For years, the only way to experience chef Naomi Pomeroy's remarkable culinary prowess was to throw down $75 and spend nearly three hours plowing through a six-course prix-fixe meal, probably while sitting across the communal table from a schmoopy couple celebrating their anniversary. That's still what you'll get at Beast, and everything from the first course—always soup, such as a deceptively light potato-and-leek velouté dressed up with smoked steelhead roe—to the dessert you will finish, no matter how glutted you feel, will be excellent. But you might also spend much of the evening peering out of Beast's dim dining room to the unmarked, black-walled bar across the street. That's Expatriate, which Pomeroy and husband/barman extraordinaire Kyle Linden Webster opened in July 2013. The menu there might not include one of Portland's most indulgent charcuterie platters, and you certainly won't eat pig prepared in a half-dozen different ways (Expatriate's tea-leaf salads and Dungeness crab rangoon tack eastward). But nor will you find yourself nursing a bizarre jealousy for the prep cooks in Beast's open kitchen, who chatter and laugh as they ready your pretty plates, looking like they're having far more fun than the poker-faced servers. Beast might be the elder statesman, worthy of the once-yearly splurge, but Expatriate is the fun younger cousin—and that cousin won't hold you captive with a pair of mushy lovebirds.
Ideal Meal: You think you're the one making decisions here?
Best Deal: It's not quite a deal, but Beast's servers are amenable to splitting the wine pairing. It's $35 for six half glasses, which you can divide between two or even three people.
Pro Tip: Pregame with some of the city's most exquisite cocktails at Expatriate, Beast's sister bar across the street.
Dinner seatings 6 and 8:45 pm Wednesday-Saturday and 7 pm Sunday by reservation only, brunch 10 am and noon Sunday. $$$$.