Fireside: Restaurant Guide 2014

801 NW 23rd Ave., 477-9505, pdxfireside.com

[ON FIRE] Fireside doesn't poach eggs—but damn if it isn't aces at picking up a chef and a lead bartender. The year-old bar and restaurant had already transformed the catacomb of the former Music Millennium into an airy, pleasant train-car space complete with rear fireplace. But this summer it also lured booze alchemist Chauncey Roach and former Genoa chef Jake Martin to up the ante on both menus. More than spice, Martin's strength so far has been a mastery of texture and a penchant for throwing savory flavors in relief with fresh fruits. The crispy duck leg dish—enough all by itself to place Fireside on a shortlist of Northwest Portland eateries—takes a Chinese-food pearl and runs it wholesale over to the Continent, with tender meat and a wafer-thin snap on the mustard-spiced duck skin, with soft, fresh summer peaches sweetening the plate. The skin on the lightly citric chickpea panissa, available in various forms on the menu, is almost alarmingly delicate—enough so it feels like a violation to chomp down. Roach, meanwhile, augmented co-owner Sue Erickson's already estimable B4 and Backyard Grillin' cocktails with a brilliant summer companion, And the Livin' Is Easy ($10), that throws blueberry thyme shrub and amaro into bourbon. Along with St. Jack, this brings two of the best new bar-restaurant mash-ups of the year to 23rd Avenue. The world is ever upside down. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Pro tip:

Happy hour is regrettably early (3-5:30 pm) but very cheap, with an alternate food and cocktail menu that all stays under $6. Grab a happy-hour martini and order from the regular dinner menu anyway.

11:30 am-10 pm Monday-Thursday, 11:30 am-midnight Friday-Saturday. $$.