CLYDE COMMON

THE FOOD At the top of Clyde Common’s menu, in a typeface that emulates an old, stodgy typewriter font, are the words “Domestic & Foreign Cooking.” Do not be turned off by such modesty. Instead, be charmed by it, and have faith that anything on the menu that you aren’t familiar with—like piquillo peppers—or that you’re not sure you’re ready to try—such as a ravioli of veal sweetbreads—will be rendered with just the right amount of authenticity. In fact, if you’re a straightforward, no-nonsense sort of diner, you’ll appreciate the lack of trickery once any of Clyde Common’s rustic dishes arrives at your table. If the menu says “seared chicken thighs, shaved beets, cilantro, yogurt, pistachios,” that’s exactly what you’re getting, in a quintessential meat-and-potatoes sort of way. But the dish won’t be slapped together; no restaurant in town knows better how to complement that most underutilized cut of poultry.

As for all those so-called “nasty bits” on the menu—the liver and tongue and sweetbreads and beef heart—this is the best place to explore them. Start with the chicken-fried chicken livers. Trust us. We’ve seen dozens of conservative diners who claim they’ll never eat liver cross over to the sweet, sweet dark side.

THE CHEF Having arrived from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in 2004, the bespectacled and tattooed Jason Barwikowski honed his skills in some of Portland’s most lauded kitchens before alighting in the open kitchen at Clyde Common in 2007. First he cooked at Paley’s Place, then at the now-defunct Gotham Building Tavern, followed by a stint with the meat-obsessed Simpatica boys. Barwikowski has devised a menu that feels somewhat English and, at times, somewhat Italian. It is both rugged and rustic—rabbit, grilled livers, roasted carrots, and English peas, for instance, served with an onion-and-filbert salad—but he never sacrifices the elemental nature of each dish.

THE SPACE With long communal tables downstairs filled with fresh-faced locals and out-of-towners
staying in the trendy Ace Hotel next door, and smaller, private tables upstairs, Clyde Common exudes the feel of both a casual gastropub and a private inn-at-the-end-of-the-road. It’s the friendly, bustling bar—whose tenders mix their gin with house-made tonic and geek out on bitters and absinthe—that unites the soaring, sunlit, two-story dining room and open kitchen. A young, fashionable, easy-on-the-eyes clientele fills the bar with banter—often late into the night, well after the kitchen has closed and the chairs have been turned upside down on the tables.

THE SERVICE The waitstaff may seem to give off a certain my-cup-of-espresso-is-better-than-yours hipster attitude at first, but once
at your table and taking your order every one of them is gracious. Don’t expect your waiter to fold your napkin while you’re in the loo—Clyde just isn’t that kind of place—but you can expect efficient, unfrenzied service from people who love food and love to talk about it.