Maurice: Restaurant Guide 2014

921 SW Oak St., 224-9921,

[SOFT PET] Maurice, named after chef-owner Kristen D. Murray's pet rabbit, is a sunny bistro that's as bright as an art gallery. It's at once a small-batch baker of spelt bread, a pastry case serving hefty $3 scones with tomato-anise marmalade, a luncheonette and brunchery, and a highfalutin hall of constructed desserts. Murray is a veteran of Paley's Place and the now-closed Fenouil (also... Lucier?) but Maurice is a deeply personal restaurant, more cozy old-Portland twee than new-Portland slick. It is now the second such place, after East Burnside Street's Luce in 2012, to get the nod as one of Bon Appetit's top 10 new restaurants in the nation. The savories are simple and precise, from elegant lefses in the daytime—topped perhaps with strips of fennel, pickled pygmy onions, iridescent roe and sweetly acidic pickled sole—to heartily provincial pot pies. But Maurice's strongest claim lies in Murray's estimable desserts, whether a two-story stack of blood orange sorbet and candy-corn tuiles resting on coffee mousse, a Meyer lemon pudding cake impressive for its simplicity and balance, or Murray's trademark pepper cheesecake topped with a curl of strawberry leather. Each meal ends with little almond-forward macarons—flavored with coffee, perhaps, or local hops. It's like any literary romance: first sweet, then bitter. But still, what you remember is the sweetness. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Pro tip:

Know your priorities, and always order dessert first. Then, fill yourself up with savories.

10 am-7 pm Monday-Saturday. $-$$.

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