This just in: executive chef Ben Bettinger will be leaving the kitchens of Vitaly Paley's Imperial and Portland Penny Diner by early August. Bettinger opened the two downtown restaurants in the fall of 2012 after making a name for himself at craft cocktail haven Beaker & Flask and Paley's Place.
At Imperial, Paley and Bettinger collaborated on a wood-fired menu of Pacific Northwest hallmarks, turning the space into a vibrant lunch destination (with a killer kale salad topped with sunflower seed brittle) and chic cocktail stop thanks to the shaking savvy of barman Brandon Wise.
"When you work with someone for so many years, they start to feel like family," says Paley of Bettinger's departure. "And when one of your kids feels it's time to fly the coop, you're going to feel happy and sad at the same time."
Paley says no decisions have been made with regards to Bettinger's replacement, but fans of Imperial can expect the menu to shift seasonally while maintaining the restaurant's "greatest hits."
During the transition, Portland restaurant godfather Paley will take the reins of both restaurants—which signals an opportunity for the lauded chef to show off his current culinary interests. Perhaps we'll even see some signs of Russian flavors on the hotel restaurant menu as Paley tests recipes for his new soviet-era pop-up DaNet? Stop in to find out for yourself this fall.
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