Built on French and Japanese cooking techniques, Roe serves the most refined seafood dishes in Portland. The restaurant relocated downtown in December 2017, and Roe has realized its full capabilities at its new iteration—this, despite the fact the longtime driving force behind the restaurant, Trent Pierce, resigned in a surprise change-up in fall 2018.
Roe is a strange bird. To find it, you must walk through the Morgan Building galleria until you find an all-white staircase. At the top, there is a door and on the other side a dimly lit room where a card with your name sits. "Please relax and enjoy your surroundings," it reads, "we will be with you shortly." Soon a host arrives with a gift—a welcome aperitif during my latest visit.
Next, you're guided to your table on the other side of the curtain. Everything is intentional in the long, open dining room. The kitchen spans most of one side. Each table of two faces the chefs, almost like theater seating. Roe maintains a large staff and may provide the best service in Portland. No request is too demanding, from half-glass wine pours to a brief history of sushi rice.
Each night centers on two prix fixe menus—one four courses ($80), the other seven ($135). And yes, Roe is going to cost you, but for anyone who wants to experience world-class seafood preparation, the smaller set menu is a steal. You might taste the meatiest scallop of your life, butter-poached and served with a spicy and tangy blueberry-stuffed Padrón pepper, or a single piece of sea bass that seems rare, injection-basted and fried all at the same time.
After a recent meal at Roe, I felt as though I'd just attended a performance or, even better, I was momentarily part of a living artwork. The restaurant is built on a mastery of technique, but it's the vision and style behind the new location that take Roe to new heights.
Pro tip: Roe also offers caviar flights ($175, individual caviars $45-$68), one of the most elite culinary experiences in Portland.