It’s Friday evening at Market in Southwest Portland, and the restaurant is slammed: the bar is doubled up, diners tucked away in navy banquettes are packed like sardines—even a tented outdoor seating area leaking rain is at capacity. The clock strikes seven, and like a flash mob, the restaurant’s dolled-up patrons hurry out the door, racing to Keller Auditorium across the street. This is a common sight at Market, a new Chefstable project in the former Carafe space, where seasonal bites and sleek cocktails offer a reasonable pre-theater dinner and not much else.
From behind the large-framed kitchen windows, hulking Executive Chef Troy Furuta (formerly of Ping and most recently, Sous Chef at Clyde Common) delicately places the finishing touches on his dishes. The small menu here rotates every two weeks, with a steadfast dedication to seasonality and a generous happy hour offering $5 bites and sips. Dip into a salty, sinful bowl of pimento cheese studded with wedges of charred toast or sample the cocktail selection: sleek and classically influenced, complete with giant globes of hand-chipped ice.
While the food maintains consistency and balance, the dinner menu is markedly unambitious. You’ll find a fine plate of fresh roasted beets and house made ricotta on blackened bread or a familiar pear and blue cheese salad tossed in every Portland restaurant’s fall lineup. Chicken three ways comes swimming in a monochrome velouté and potpie crust, stuffed into a fatty sausage link with zucchini, and as a roasted breast lacking flair. Without primetime tickets to Book of Mormon, it’s hard to stomach a fillet of pan-roasted lingcod over mashed potatoes and drizzled with muted truffle butter for $26.
Market’s Northwest-continental fare may do the trick in the middle of Portland’s tiny downtown dead zone, but the service certainly doesn’t. Even for a young restaurant, the staff is out of sync with the kitchen. Servers are few and far between, dishes are forgotten or swapped with others, and the seating system seems to be a serious challenge, even post-theater rush (avoid the drafty, dark, outdoor add-on). Market needs to lock-down on its dinner service and develop an identity beyond “continental cuisine” if it wants to be more than just a pre-theater way station.
200 SW Market St, Suite 101