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OK, OK... it's been six days since I've promised more details regarding "Food that makes you go EEEEE", and what better time to update than when I'm sitting in SFO waiting for a delayed flight?

(btw, Alaska Board Room: "tsunami" is not a terribly good SSID choice. We heart your wireless network.)

Anyway. J and R blew into town last Wednesday on their way up to Seattle. From Berkeley. Driving. That's a long trip, so I offered hospitality at Chez B for the wearly travelers. Besides, it would be an excellent opportunity to catch up with them, since it had been nearly a year since I'd seen them last, I missed a change to see them when I was in the Bay Area weekend before last, aaaaaand J's birthday had just happened. My impromptu birthday gift: picking up the tab for dinner.

"Your choice, J! Where ya wanna go? Anywhere. You name it. I'm the bastard that's late in getting a gift for you anyway, so rape me."

(Pondering pause.)

"Whatcha think? Wanna try something familiar? Or something new? In the mood for anything in particular? Italian? Thai?"

(The additional pondering of one who has driven twelve hours and is hungry and tired.)

"Tell you what. There's this new place that I've heard triff things about. Let's go check it out."

"The new place" turns out to be clark lewis. (Yes, with ee cummings-esque lowercase.) It's the latest project from Michael and Naomi Hebberoy, whom Portland food cognoscenti will recognize as the names behind ripe's "family suppers" (an operation that was invitation-only for its first couple years of existence), where there is one seating per night, with one menu, and everything served family-style.

As at ripe, clark lewis's focus seems to be on that which can be made with fresh, regional ingredients. One can almost picture chef Morgan Brownlow scouring farmer's markets, produce row warehouses, and charcuteries in the early mornings, basing the day's menu on whatever happens to be the freshest and finest available.

Points for fashion sense: it's in the ground-floor of a former warehouse on the east bank of the Willamette (SE Water and Taylor to be exact), with pretty lighting and colors, exposed beams and concrete, and airy glass garage doors that can be opened to admit summer breezes. It, and indeed the whole neighborhood, have that about-to-explode-into-Pearl-district-hood feel about it.

Points for service: the waiters are casual, but without being campy. They're professional and the kind of attentive that I only remember seeing the last time I was at the erstwhile Atwater's (where Portland City Grill now stands). Though I don't specifically recall having done it, apparently we mentioned J's birthday in casual conversation while our waiter was within earshot: the comped dessert arrived with a white votive alongside.

(Plane's here... more later!)



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