KQED Food Blog: Bay Area Bites: Clyde Common Restaurant. Ace Hotel, Portland
Bay Area Bites: culinary rants & raves from bay area foodies and professionals
Previous Posts
Japanese Tradition: How to Eat at a Sushi Bar
Pimientos de Padron
Fried Gallus gallus
What Are You Eating? CleanScores
Meet Ruta Kahate
Gluten-Free Crisp Topping
How to Talk Like a Maine Lobsterman
Salumi Stars at Bar Bambino
Okra, O.K.!
BAB Guidelines

'Bay Area Bites' is part of KQED's Blog Authors Collaborative. Blog contributors and commentators are solely responsible for their content. If you're interested in writing or contributing to a blog on kqed.org, email us with your idea.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Clyde Common Restaurant. Ace Hotel, Portland

Disclaimer: this is not an "Official Restaurant Review," it is merely a mention of a place to eat I loved when I was in Portland last. Clyde Common is the name. Ace Hotel is its location. I ate there once for each lunch and dinner a few days apart. And I would go there tomorrow if it were not an eleven hour drive away.

I have a favorite restaurant in NYC. It doesn't seem possible to single one place out on a flat, tiny island teeming with enough restaurants to fit on a small continent. But I do. And I send anyone there who asks me for NYC eating recommendations. My favorite place to eat in my old home town is Prune, a slip of an eatery on first street crammed tight with tables and exceptionally happy waiters. Gabrielle Hamilton is one of the most down-to-earth chefs I have the pleasure of knowing. Her food is not exceptionally innovative. She doesn't wow with new spices or chemical induced textures. There's little on the menu you've never heard of or eaten before, albeit in some other form.

Cauliflower soup.

But Prune's food is brilliant. It's simultaneously inspired and soulful, flavorful and simple, honest and satisfying. There are traditional pairings, and seasonal ideas. But somehow, when Gabrielle puts these proteins and vegs together, something like earthy faerie dust gets thrown in, a dash of whimsy, a pinch of what-the-hell and voila, a Vogue-ing, lip syncing, twink of a beautiful creature is born. Always delicious, often exclamatorily so.

But why on earth am I waxing poetic about Prune when I began by talking about a new restaurant in Portland, Oregon?

Ace, A Friendly Hotel.

Because the food at Clyde Common is also inspired, whimsical, down-to-earth, laid back, seasonal, exceptionally delicious at times, and it could turn into my favorite restaurant in Portland if I'm not careful. I don't think the chef behind its menu is as brilliant as Gabrielle, but at least he's reaching, standing on the diving board' edge, toes dangling. Most of the cooks in the kitchen understand how to cook, and many know finesse and flourish are important parts of making a dish day after night after day still taste good. I'm as big a fan of consistency as the next diner, but eating in a plated-food factory is not my idea of a great meal.

When I go out to eat I want to be tempted, turned-on, pushed, inspired, and given too many options to choose from. I want to see items that sound intriguing but not too wacky, ones I never would have thought to do myself. Appetizers like, "asparagus with caul fat wrapped egg," "beef tongue, seared scallop, beets and tomato jam," "chicken-fried chicken liver, cucumber salad and citrus mayonaise," "fennel sausage, octopus, fried potatoes and ink."

Words. On a page looking torn from a child's 1950's blue-lined notebook. Typewriter written letters, in all their skewed arty loveliness.

For design is our first visual. Our first amuse bouche. The way she styles her hair, and the strands which refuse to be bound, falling lightly at her collarbone. The way he suavely matches green pinstripes with a shiny blue tie. The way the light in the room greets you, soft from a few dozen candles, and a menu with the restaurant's name in red rubber stamp ink and today's date in black, upper left hand column, in a hurried angle. You're going to get a special meal no one else will get. Unique. Just like you.

Chicken-Fried Chicken Livers.

But there's always the moment. The dish that makes the rest of the menu fall away, West Side Story style. You take a bite and you wish you didn't have to share.

chicken-fried chicken liver, cucumber salad and citrus mayonaise 9.

You moan audibly. You say, "[expletive deleted] yeah!" And then you consider ordering one for dessert. If Clyde Common pleases you in no other way but the way you feel when this exquisitely delicious combination of inspiration, technique, texture and flavor reach your mouth and then your taste buds, so be it. Leave happy.

Or go on to order the "fishboard" of the day, a generous side dish of "roast cauliflower," "seared chicken thighs/pork shank, refried peanuts, frisee salad and pork jus," or "risotto: fennel, finicchiona, walnuts and grano padano."

French Fried Potatoes with Harissa and Creme Fraiche.

Clyde Common is not for the vegetarian in you. It's for the adventurous, slightly silly, open- minded diner. People are pretty but casual. If you sit near the kitchen be prepared for a conversation with the person plating your salads and desserts. Cooks are white-jacketless, heavily tattooed and young enough to look like college drop-outs. Think Zuni Cafe meets Blue Plate.

Unfortunately the desserts are too sweet, boring and sloppily plated. Someone had a good idea but not the skill or follow-through to make it taste good enough to order again. Dessert as afterthought: not my favorite way to end a blush producing meal.

Believe me when I tell you to walk a few blocks into the Pearl District and go to Blue Hour for dessert. Or drive 15 minutes across one of Portland's beautiful bridges to SE for desserts at ClarkLewis. Or plan ahead and stop into Sahagun for sumptuous chocolates... Any of these three options will satisfy any sweet, seasonal craving you might have.

Clyde Common, Domestic & Foreign Cooking
SW 10th and Stark in the Ace Hotel
Monday - Thursday open 5 until late
Friday - Saturday open 5 until later
Open Sundays starting June 17th
{More photographs here.}

Labels: , , , ,



Blogger joanna said...

Not that I wasn't already impressed by Clyde, but you've reignited my drive to get myself back there, and quick. If they can get my heart racing over a simple plate of roasted cauliflower, they are indeed working some magic.
Trivial note: The drive over to clarklewis is more like 6 minutes, not 15. Extra incentive.
Great photos, great piece.l

7/23/2007 11:02 AM

Anonymous Cuisine Bonne Femme said...

Ah yes, the roasted cauliflower is just unbelievable. How lucky we are to have Clyde in Portland.

Although I agree with Shuna, the desserts need work.

7/23/2007 3:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

".. desserts are too sweet, boring and sloppily plated.." Where may I asked were you eating? I have eatent here many times and have been inspried at both dinner and lunch. Perfect chocolate. Seasonal fruit. With Stumptown Coffee. Cannot be better. But then Zuni is listed as sublime and it is the most overblown restaurant in SF.

7/24/2007 4:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You'd better stop at Sahagun for your chocolate fix before you go to Clyde Commons--Sahagun is only open until 6 PM Weds-Sat. It's really a chocolate shop and not a dessert destination. Pix would be a better choice if you're looking for a place to eat dessert!

7/30/2007 5:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

but if you think CC's desserts are sweet (i find them balanced) you will be sickened by the ultra-high sugar level in Pix's overhyped confections and dessert choices.

7/31/2007 9:12 PM

Blogger whimsy2 said...

I beg to differ. Pix has not only gorgeous pastries, they are not all too sweet. This from a diabetic.

8/03/2007 4:32 PM


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Locate CP Restaurants:
Check, Please! Google Map
KQED Food Sites
Check, Please! Bay Area
Jacques Pépin Celebrates!
Jacques Pépin:
Fast Food My Way
Jacques Pépin:
The Apprentice
Jacques Pépin:
The Complete Pépin
KQED Wine Club
KQED.org Cooking
Weir Cooking in the City
Tasty Food Sites
Chowhound SF
Eat Local Challenge
Edible San Francisco
Food Network
Food Talk
Group Recipes
Hungry Magazine
Leite's Culinaria
Mighty Foods
NPR: Food
Om Organics
Serious Eats
SFGate: Food
SFGate: Wine
SF Station: Restaurants
Slow Food SF
Top Chef
Wikimedia Commons: Food & Drink
Yahoo! Food
Yelp: Reviews
Tangy Food Blogs
101 Cookbooks
A Full Belly
Accidental Hedonist
An Obsession with Food
Anna's Cool Finds
Becks & Posh
Between Meals
Bunny Foot
Butter Pig
Cellar Rat
Chez Pim
Chocolate & Zucchini
Confessions of a
Restaurant Whore
Cooking For Engineers
Cooking with Amy
Cucina Testa Rossa
Culinary Muse
Denise's Kitchen
Eater SF
Feed & Supply
Food Blog S'cool
Food Musings
Food Porn Watch
I'm Mad and I Eat
In Praise of Sardines
Knife's Edge
Life Begins at 30
Love and Cooking
Mental Masala
Moveable Feast
Organic Day
Passionate Eater
San Francisco Gourmet
SF City Eats
Simply Recipes
The Amateur Gourmet
The Ethicurean
The Food Section
The Grub Report
The Petite Pig
The Wine Makers Wife
Vin Divine
Wandering Spoon
Well Fed Network
Word Eater
World on a Plate
Yummy Chow
Search BAB

Eye Candy: Food Photos
BAB on flickr.com
Join Flickr for free and share your photos with the Bay Area Bites and Beyond group pool.
Food Books
The Moosewood Cookbook
by Mollie Katzen
Baking: From My Home to Yours
by Dorie Greenspan
Grand Livre de Cuisine: Alain Ducasse's Desserts and Pastries
by Alain Ducasse, Frederic Robertmison
The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking and Entertaining
by Cheryl Alters Jamison, Bill Jamison
Tasty: Get Great Food on the Table Every Day
by Roy Finamore
Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way
by Lorna Sass
The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa
by Marcus Samuelsson
Michael Mina: The Cookbook
by Michael Mina, Photographer: Karl Petzktle
What to Eat
by Marion Nestle
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
by Michael Pollan
Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate
by John Scharffenberger, Robert Steinberg
Romancing the Vine: Life, Love, and Transformation in the Vineyards of Barolo
by Alan Tardi
What to Drink with What You Eat: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea -- Even Water -- Based on Expert Advice from America's Best Sommeliers
by Andrew Dornenburg, Karen Page, Michael Sofronski
The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners
by Matt Lee, Ted Lee
Bread Matters: The State of Modern Bread and a Definitive Guide to Baking Your Own
by Andrew Whitley
Coloring the Seasons: A Cook's Guide
by Allegra McEvedy
All-new Complete Cooking Light Cookbook
by Anne C. Cain
Modern Garde Manger
by Robert B. Garlough
The Spice and Herb Bible
by Ian Hemphill, Kate Hemphill
The Improvisational Cook
by Sally Schneider
Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children
by Ann Cooper, Lisa M. Holmes
Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia
by James Oseland
My Life in France
by Julia Child, Alex Prud'Homme
A Passion for Ice Cream: 95 Recipes for Fabulous Desserts
by Emily Luchett, Sheri Giblin (photographer)
Au Pied De Cochon -- The Album
by Martin Picard
Memories of Philippine Kitchens
by Amy Besa, Romy Dorotan
Simple Chinese Cooking
by Kylie Kwong
An Invitation to Indian Cooking
by Madhur Jaffrey
Hungry Planet
by Peter Menzel, Faith D'Aluisio
Sunday Suppers at Lucques : Seasonal Recipes from Market to Table
by Suzanne Goin, Teri Gelber
Simple Soirees: Seasonal Menus for Sensational Dinner Parties
by Peggy Knickerbocker, Christopher Hirsheimer (Photographer)
The Cook's Book
by Jill Norman
Molto Italiano : 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home
by Mario Batali
Nobu Now
by Nobuyuki Matsuhisa
Cheese : A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Best
by Max Mccalman, David Gibbons
Bones : Recipes, History, and Lore
by Jennifer McLagan
Whiskey : The Definitive World Guide
by Michael Jackson
The New American Cooking
by Joan Nathan
by Lisa Yockelson
Easy Entertaining: Everything You Need to Know About Having Parties at Home
by Darina Allen
Cooking at De Gustibus: Celebrating 25 Years of Culinary Innovation
by Arlene Feltman Sailhac
Dough: Simple Contemporary Breads
by Richard Bertinet
Chocolate Obsession: Confections and Treats to Create and Savor
by Michael Recchiuti, Fran Gage, Maren Caruso
The Food Substitutions Bible: More Than 5,000 Substitutions for Ingredients, Equipment And Techniques
by David Joachim
Recipes: A Collection for the Modern Cook
by Susan Spungen
Spices of Life: Simple and Delicious Recipes for Great Health
by Nina Simonds
Mangoes & Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent
by Jeffrey Alford, Naomi Duguid
Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light
by Mort Rosenblum
Vegetable Love: A Book for Cooks
by Barbara Kafka, Christopher Styler
A History of Wine in America: From Prohibition to the Present
by Thomas Pinney
Fonda San Miguel: Thirty Years Of Food And Art
by Tom Gilliland, Miguel Ravago, Virginia B. Wood
Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South
by Marcie Cohen Ferris
Washoku: Recipes From The Japanese Home Kitchen
by Elizabeth Andoh, Leigh Beisch
Weir Cooking in the City: More than 125 Recipes and Inspiring Ideas for Relaxed Entertaining
by Joanne Weir
Rick Stein's Complete Seafood
by Rick Stein
The Great Scandinavian Baking Book
by Beatrice A. Ojakangas
Serena, Food & Stories: Feeding Friends Every Hour of the Day
by Serena Bass
John Ash: Cooking One on One: Private Lessons in Simple, Contemporary Food from a Master Teacher
by John Ash
The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook: Eating Well for Better Health
by Donald Hensrud, M.D., Jennifer Nelson, R.D. & Mayo Clinic Staff
Foods of the Americas: Native Recipes and Traditions
by Fernando and Marlene Divina
The Provence Cookbook
by Patricia Wells
Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World
by Gil Marks
Last Chance to Eat: The Fate of Taste in a Fast Food World
by Gina Mallet
by Thomas Keller
A Blessing of Bread: The Many Rich Traditions of Jewish Bread Baking Around the World
by Maggie Glezer
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
by Molly Stevens
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
by Harold McGee
Entertaining: Inspired Menus For Cooking with Family and Friends
by George Dolese
The Breath of a Wok: Unlocking the Spirit of Chinese Wok Cooking Through Recipes and Lore
by Grace Young, Alan Richardson
Cooking New American: How to Cook the Food You Love to Eat
by Fine Cooking Magazine
The Japanese Kitchen: A Book of Essential Ingredients with 200 Authentic Recipes
by Kimiko Barber
Arthur Schwartz's New York City Food: An Opinionated History and More Than 100 Legendary Recipes
by Arthur Schwartz
Poet of the Appetites: The Lives and Loves of M.F.K. Fisher
by Joan Reardon
Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes
by Jeffrey Hamelman
Everyday Dining with Wine
by Andrea Immer
Copyright © 2005-2008 KQED. All rights reserved.