The restaurant may have served a “taste of the Northwest,” but the website offered a taste of everywhere else.
When a good restaurant closes, it’s a bit like having your favorite TV show cancelled. But some eateries deserve their fate. And by “some eateries,” we mean Terroir. Call it karmic comeuppance, but when the restaurant shut its doors in January, we weren’t exactly shocked. During its seven-month tenure on NE MLK Jr & Fremont, not only did the menu—billed as “A Taste of the Northwest”—lack originality, but it turns out that much of the content on the website and blog was cooked up elsewhere. Between the intrepid bloggers at www.portlandfoodanddrink.com and our own digging, we found at least 13 instances of “borrowed” material. Chef and owner Stu Stein, in describing Terroir and its cuisine, lifted lines from restaurants and reviewers nationwide and passed the glowing verbiage off as his own. Here are some of the most egregious examples, all strong evidence that any attempts Terroir made to disguise its plagiarism were about as flaccid as its pappardelle.
Victim: San Francisco’s Terzo
Terroir-ism: “It’s a copacetic blend of good design and focused intent… A place that will convince you that small plates, civilized dining and reasonably priced food can coexist.” Sounds wonderful. It also sounds, oddly enough, like renowned Chronicle food critic Michael Bauer’s description of the upscale Frisco eatery Terzo.
Victim: Seattle’s Cascadia
Terroir-ism: “There are places we go to feel special. There are places we
go to feel right at home. There are places we go to celebrate once-in-a-lifetime events. And there are places we go simply because it’s Friday. Enter Terroir.” Of course, if it’s Thursday, you’d hit chef Kerry Sear’s Seattle restaurant, which boasts the same description on its website.
Victim: Chicago’s Charlie Trotter’s
Terroir-ism: “Each menu is carefully designed so that each course lays the foundation for the next. It is a perfectly balanced meal that continues to satisfy afterwards.” We liked this verbiage better when Charlie Trotter, one of the country’s most esteemed chefs, used it to describe his eponymous restaurant. As one blogger points out, at least Stein borrows from the best.
Victim: New York’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns
Terroir-ism: “Terroir Restaurant and Wine Bar is committed to actively reconnecting the farm and the table.” And we’re committed to actively reconnecting this mission statement with its original creator: chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill at Stone Barns.