Like an architecturally stunning (and stunningly expensive) Ligne Roset sofa that surprises you with its level of comfort and posterior support, so too does Davenport appear pretentious only until you take a seat.
The menu is almost disarmingly straightforward, populated with a short grocery list of the season—butter lettuce ($12), halibut ($18), chorizo ($16). It's the anti-signature signature of Portland chef Kevin Gibson, who has mastered simplicity in fine dining at places like Castagna.
Minimally adorned and expertly prepared, the food sings. Dishes like lamb cheeks ($16) are lightly crisped on the outside and set atop a warm frikeh salad and plump slices of heirloom tomato. Albacore ceviche ($18) is tossed with coconut milk, chili and celery, and plated with a flash-fried sesame cracker reminiscent of a coral reef.
It's a dish that anywhere else would smack of over-the-top effort but instead looks, and tastes, beautifully effortless. It's a style mirrored by co-owner Kurt Heilemann's wine selection and a short list of perfectly mixed classic cocktails. In the minimalistic dining room, shades of raw wood and concrete are balanced by bright natural light and a warm, easygoing wait staff. Just take a seat and let it envelop you in an experience as comfortable as it is luxurious.
Eat: Larger than a taster but smaller than an entree, each dish is made for splitting. Order three or four from the regularly changing menu for a perfectly sized dinner for two.
Drink: Start with that pinnacle of balance, the Negroni ($10), then be sure to take advantage of Heilemann's geeky passion for wine with a pairing recommendation.
Most popular dish: Though the menu changes frequently, the bavette steak salad ($18) is a standby—heavenly tender and paired with extra-crispy fingerling potatoes.
Noise level: 55/100. Even busy evenings shouldn't hamper intimate conversation at your table.
Expected wait: On a Tuesday, the small dining room was full by 7:30 pm. Without a reservation, you'll probably wait about 30 minutes.
Who you'll eat with: Well-dressed septuagenarians who clearly had a wild youth and hipster parents getting a night away from the kids.
Year opened: 2013