Jump to content


Photo

Grüner Restaurant


  • Please log in to reply
100 replies to this topic

#1 Calabrese

Calabrese

    Desaparecido

  • Banned
  • 5,970 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Gone

Posted 23 December 2009 - 04:00 PM

http://www.oregonliv.../12/gruner.html

Have you heard about Gruner? It's the new restaurant set to open Monday by the charmed and crafty chef Christopher Israel, best-known for his kitchen work at the long-gone and lionized Zefiro. That goes a long way with people around here.

Now, Israel is unveiling his most daring trick of all: opening a fairly swanky restaurant based on a reasonably unfamiliar cuisine ("alpine"?!) during one of the worst economic climates in memory. Can this be pulled off? Even by this guy?

** Rest of the article is at the link above

#2 ExtraMSG

ExtraMSG
  • Admin
  • 18,045 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Felony Flats
  • Interests:Me like food.

Posted 29 December 2009 - 01:32 AM

So, now that Gruner's open, has anyone tried it? I only heard one brief personal report and the person was disappointed, but it's only been open a couple days, and I didn't get details.

Grüner Restaurant
527 SW 12th Avenue
Portland, OR 97205
503.241.7163
http://www.grunerpdx.com

Background:

http://www.portlandm...-plated/gruner/

Later this year, Israel and his business partner Kurt Huffman (a co-owner of Old Town’s Ping) will debut Gruner, a Central and Eastern European eatery that will anchor a sweet corner spot in an award-winning Skylab-designed building that also houses the firm’s headquarters on 12th Avenue and Alder Street.

I can’t complain either. I live only six blocks away, and I expect to become a regular fixture at Gruner, Israel’s first new Portland project since he debuted Saucebox with PDX restaurant mogul Bruce Carey back in 1995. Of course, Israel and Carey also co-owned the storied Zefiro, which is credited among the most seminal restaurants in the history of the city. Remember, Portland foodies refer to Portland dining in two stages: pre-Zefiro and post-Zefiro. Israel later left PDX to take a job in New York with Vanity Fair magazine. Carey closed Zefiro after a successful ten-year run to debut Bluehour, which serves my favorite gnocchi in Portland. With Israel back in Portland, Gruner’s opening will be a big event in the story of PDX dining.


http://www.oregonliv.../12/gruner.html

• This place is tiny; occupancy in the dining room, at Southwest 12th Avenue and Alder Street, is a mere 32 people. Should Gruner become popular, it will be hard to get in. You've been warned.

• The alpine cuisine menu is based on seasonal inspirations from Northern Italy, Germany, Austria, Hungary and Switzerland. Think what that Austrian guy Stefan from last season's "Top Chef" used to roll out.

....

• Cheapest thing on menu: roasted, spiced pumpkin seeds ($3).

• Most expensive: beef short rib goulash ($24).

• Average cost of entrees: $18.88.

• Saliva-inducing phrases on said menu: "fried, smashed potatoes," "pretzel croutons," "buckwheat spätzle."

....

• Since Israel helped whip up bar stalwart Saucebox, get ready for Gruner's interesting cocktail list. A Hungarian Razor Blade made with Slivovitz plum brandy, Zwack herbal liqueur and a spiced paprika rim, anyone?


Menu:

http://pdx.eater.com...opens-today.php

Posted Image

Posted Image

Photos:

http://pdx.eater.com...raels-grner.php

Attached File  gruner.jpg   84.22K   0 downloads
The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole & Kenny & Zuke's

#3 chefken

chefken
  • Members
  • 32 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 29 December 2009 - 04:42 AM

Actually, I believe they opened last night. Little soon for reviews, perhaps?
signature

#4 BigDaddy

BigDaddy
  • Members
  • 811 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:SW Portland
  • Interests:Poker, reading, disability rights, nonalcoholic beverages, longtime friend of Bill W.

Posted 29 December 2009 - 08:31 AM

This looks pretty good to me, but I was raised on similar stuff. We'll have to try it out. If any of you who are drinkers want to come along for a test, let us know and we'll get something going. Cheapo alert: we'll split the food check, not the bar tab. Sorry.

#5 Angelhair

Angelhair
  • Moderator
  • 7,593 posts
  • Location:downtown
  • Interests:film, cooking, literature

Posted 29 December 2009 - 08:53 AM

It opened last night! Geez, MSG, little quick to judge ;)

I went to one of the preview dinners and it was absolutely fantastic. The cocktails, above all that was wonderful, stand out for me, along with the chocrute and the salmon app.

I'm excited to see that the menu prices aren't through the roof, either. Esp. the beer and cocktails (they are up over at PDXPlate). Take another place, which I absolutely love, Spints: $11 for 16oz. of their Belgian beers! Gruner's taps are $5 and $6.

I loved it so much I am going back with a group tonight for my birthday dinner. So happy to have this opening downtown! I am going to be a hot regular, for sure.

#6 WAfoodie

WAfoodie
  • Members
  • 425 posts
  • Gender:Not Telling

Posted 29 December 2009 - 10:06 AM

Thanks MSG for all the links, pics, info...always a few kinks during the initial opening that need to be smoothed.

#7 Flynn

Flynn
  • Secondary Admin
  • 3,542 posts
  • Location:SW Portland

Posted 29 December 2009 - 10:20 AM

It opened last night! Geez, MSG, little quick to judge ;)

I went to one of the preview dinners and it was absolutely fantastic. The cocktails, above all that was wonderful, stand out for me, along with the chocrute and the salmon app.

I'm excited to see that the menu prices aren't through the roof, either. Esp. the beer and cocktails (they are up over at PDXPlate). Take another place, which I absolutely love, Spints: $11 for 16oz. of their Belgian beers! Gruner's taps are $5 and $6.

I loved it so much I am going back with a group tonight for my birthday dinner. So happy to have this opening downtown! I am going to be a hot regular, for sure.


I was at the preview dinner mentioned by AH, and I thought it was great overall. Really nice space, innovative cocktail list that we all raved about, interesting wine pairings. I thought the food ranged from pretty good to sublimely awesome. Also, I'm running out of useful descriptive words. The gravlax over fennel/apple salad had a nice umami quality? Not really. But it was delicious and the most memorable dish I had that evening.

Kudos to Gruner for making a preview dinner worth the spend. Portions were large, service was attentive, and we had ample food and drink at all times. Very enjoyable.

#8 Angelhair

Angelhair
  • Moderator
  • 7,593 posts
  • Location:downtown
  • Interests:film, cooking, literature

Posted 30 December 2009 - 03:42 PM

Wonderful meal at Gruner last night. There was a group of us, so we got to try a lot of the menu.

First let me say how perfect a night yesterday was for this type of cuisine. Big fat snowflakes were falling as we walked to the restaurant. The restaurant itself, though small is very warm and inviting with big windows. We were a group, so they seated us in a removed section in the back.

Being in a separate section for me usually signals trouble. So many places have these spaces and an 'out of sight out of mind' type of service is the result. Not so last night. In fact, the service was crazy good. The server was the same one that we had at the preview dinner. She was ever present and ridiculously knowledgeable. We were very well waken care of, and they let us linger without leaving us wanting for anything.

We started with the smoked salmon app and the charcuterie board. The salmon was as good as I remember it. The meat plate had speck, chicken liver mousse/pate and delecious terrine with cranberries in it. Their bread is great too: hearty rye and fantastic pretzels.

Next up were the kabocha dumplings and the mushroom gratin. The dumplings were so much better than at the preview dinner. So delicately flavored and accented with sage and pepper. The mushroom gratin? All I have to say is that I will order this dish every single time I revisit Gruner, and so should you. Sauteed mushrooms in a rich and buttery sauce topped with bread crumbs. This was one of the best dishes we had.

For dinner, we all shared the schnitzel, the spaetzle, the short rib goulash and the choucroute. The schnitzel was very good for schnitzel (it seemed to be seasoned before being battered). It was a modern twist on something that I have had 7K times. Even the plating seemed so very German. But, hey, it's schnitzel. The choucroute was as good as I recall, a huge and hearty dish with sausages/brats and smoked pork and sauerkraut. It's such a hearty and meaty dish...easily splitable. The goulash was possibly my favorite. Perfectly cooked and fork tender. Luscious silken sauce. The spaeztle der tag was buckwheat with rabbit? and mushrooms. It was hard for me to get into this untraditional spaetzle, but it was still very good. We ended with the cheese plate which I normally don't order anywhere. You could choose three of five and the ones that my dining partner picked were all very pungently fantastic.

Instead of wine and beer I dranks cocktails...a lot of 'em! I had The Golden Rule, the 3s and 4s, the Green Danube and the Atlas. I will say it again, they are making very very good cocktails here. All of them are unique and tasty.

So four starters, four entrees and a cheese plate split by 5 people. I had skipped lunch, so I ate a ton and left very full, so you could easily order less. The bill came to about $60 per person (w/o tip), but we all had quite a few cocktails too, so factor that in.


Open only two nights and things went off without a hitch. They are running very well from the get go. Service is some of the best I have had in Portland. Needless to say, I plan to become a regular.

#9 Angelhair

Angelhair
  • Moderator
  • 7,593 posts
  • Location:downtown
  • Interests:film, cooking, literature

Posted 30 December 2009 - 03:43 PM

Here's the cocktail list:
cocktails
Neue Vienna — Monopolowa Austrian dry gin, Zirbenz stone
pine liqueur, Cinzano Dry, fresh rosemary..................................................8.00
Zeitgeist — gin, Pelinkovac Croatian herbal, Cinzano Rosso............................8.00
The Golden Rule — Kentucky straight bourbon, Bärenjaeger
honey liqueur, Dolin Blanc, Underberg bitters............................................8.00
Hungarian Razor Blade — Slivovitz plum brandy,
Zwack herbal liqueur, citrus, spiced paprika rim.........................................8.00
Bavarian Cream — Killipitsch, brandy, lemon, egg white,
Peychaud bitters..............................................................10.00
Bartlett Beauty — Clear Creek pear brandy, Cinzano dry,
house made grenadine, orange ................................................................9.00
Green Danube — Apple Jack, Green Chartreuse, maraschino,
Cremant de Jura float.......................................................9.
Atlas — Calvados, House Spirits rum, Cointreau, Angostura.......................11.00
3’s & 4’s — Krogstad aquavit, Benedictine, Lillet Blanc, orange,
Fernet Branca..................................................................9.00
Le Petit Mort — Cremant du Jura, Briottet creme de peche, absinthe..........11.00

#10 ExtraMSG

ExtraMSG
  • Admin
  • 18,045 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Felony Flats
  • Interests:Me like food.

Posted 30 December 2009 - 04:08 PM

Thanks for the detailed report, Angelhair.
The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole & Kenny & Zuke's

#11 Jill-O

Jill-O
  • Moderator
  • 7,048 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Eastside, on the cusp between N and S

Posted 31 December 2009 - 02:51 PM

Here's that recipe for the Mushroom Gratin, fromn Portland Monthly:

http://www.portlandm...pes/0110-reipe/
Never give up! Never surrender!

#12 John DePaula

John DePaula
  • Members
  • 1,463 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:.

Posted 31 December 2009 - 04:17 PM

Here's that recipe for the Mushroom Gratin, fromn Portland Monthly:

http://www.portlandm...pes/0110-reipe/

Link must have gotten munged...
Mushroom Gratin
--------------------
You cannot legislate compassion into your fellow man (or woman, as the case may be), but we should at least attempt to create a society in which each individual has the opportunity to realize his or her potential. If we meet our citizens' needs for Health Care and Education, everything else will take care of itself. --Me

#13 Sarah

Sarah
  • Members
  • 244 posts
  • Location:Southeast Portland

Posted 02 January 2010 - 11:45 AM

I've tried to contact them by email and phone for reservations tonight, and I have yet to hear back. I wonder are they not taking reservations yet, or are they just too busy with opening to get back to me. Anyway, I think we'll just show up tonight and hope they're not super busy. So excited for venison terrine!

ETA that they called me back about my reservation.

#14 doglover

doglover

    Just another Portland foodie

  • Members
  • 152 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:PDX
  • Interests:I'm a marketing geek who loves to travel, share a great bottle of wine with friends, and who is always on the lookout for a great new restaurant. St. Jack anyone?

Posted 02 January 2010 - 02:54 PM

I've tried to contact them by email and phone for reservations tonight, and I have yet to hear back. I wonder are they not taking reservations yet, or are they just too busy with opening to get back to me. Anyway, I think we'll just show up tonight and hope they're not super busy. So excited for venison terrine!


We went on NYE. Called the day before and they still had tables.

The space is gorgeous. The chairs however, are too small and painful to sit in. If you go, sit on the cushioned bench - particularly if you are a tall. Why are so many portland restaurants opting for such small chairs? Do they test these by sitting in them for 2+ hours? Ouch.

Lets move to the food -- it's terrific. We both had Salads which were outstanding... yum. I tried the fois gras (spendy but good). My main was the Buckwheat Spatzle with Rabbit, Sandra had the Charcuterie plate as her main. We brought along our own bottle of aged Riesling. Corkage was high at $20. The Spatzle was simply delicious. I would certainly order it again.

Took a few pics with the iphone. Perhaps later I can upload a couple.

#15 Francine the Machine

Francine the Machine
  • Members
  • 435 posts

Posted 04 January 2010 - 11:06 AM

I made the mushroom gratin yesterday to take to a pot luck and it was really good. The recipe was kind of weird, as they left out an ingredient but later directed you to use it, but i just winged it and upped the amounts of onion and shallot as i found them lacking, and would probably up the caraway seeds to 1 1/2 to 2 tsp as it wasn't prominent at all.

All in all, delicious, and i would recommend it. It was great as a spread on fresh baked soft bread.

#16 Sarah

Sarah
  • Members
  • 244 posts
  • Location:Southeast Portland

Posted 05 January 2010 - 02:23 PM

Ok, I don't think I've ever done a review on this site. Here goes, though.

Six of us went to Gruner for dinner Saturday night. I'm glad I made a reservation because the space is pretty small and they were already bustling by the time we got there. We were put in the back, probably the same table where Angelhair was, and I liked it because I got to watch both the kitchen and the restaurant. The benches are not the most comfortable, and they don't have hooks for coats so they take your coats for you. I wasn't very comfortable with that, but I guess it's better than sitting on your coat.

They start you off with a little bread plate--hearty rye, brown butter biscuit, and a pretzel. The rye was my favorite--nice and dense, slight sour flavor and a bit of crunch from some sort of seed. The biscuit was ok--very tender, but I couldn't taste any nutty brown butter flavor. The pretzel was nice and chewy with a decent amount of salt sprinkled on.

We ordered a bunch of appetizers to begin--the venison terrine, a smoked trout salad, the kabocha squash dumplings, the pumpkin seeds, and a Gruner salad. I had thought that snacks and appetizers would come out first, then salads, but they brought everything out at the same time. The server made a mistake and we ended up getting a mushroom gratin instead of the Gruner salad, but it turned out to be a good thing. The gratin is delicious--chanterelle and crimini mushrooms in a creamy sauce with just enough caraway to not overwhelm the mushrooms, and the breadcrumbs are really really crispy. I loved it. The squash dumplings were light, fluffy, and sweet; I didn't get a good taste of the fonduta. The venison terrine is a nice hearty portion--it's got great texture, a bit of sweetness and nice gaminess. I think the pickled prune is a nice compliment--it's not too tart and it's hearty enough to be on the same plate. The cornichons were too tart, and I preferred the terrine without the grainy mustard. I didn't taste the trout salad. The pumpkin seeds were, well, pumpkin seeds.

We got to try a bunch of different main dishes: the choucroute garnie plate, the buckwheat spatzle with rabbit, grilled guinea hen wrapped in pancetta, and a Gruner salad. The salad was a generous portion with lots of shredded vegetables and crunchy bits, but there was no balance of acid and oil in the dressing--it just tasted oily and really needed some salt. I was disappointed--I absolutely love salads with plenty of raw root vegetables.

I loved the bratwurst on the choucroute plate--super juicy, perfectly cooked, subtly spiced, with a really nice fine texture. I didn't like the pork belly, but I'm not the best judge of it, since I don't like really fatty meat. The sauerkraut was great--there's none of that vinegary flavor you get with commercial krauts.

People have already talked about the spatzle dish--I was interested in trying it because I've made buckwheat spatzle at home before. If I compared them to mine I would say theirs is lighter but mine has more flavor. They're a bit more chewy than regular spatzle and have a grittiness from the buckwheat. The dish as a whole didn't really work for me. It was all mixed together with a creme fraiche sauce and topped with fried shallots. I liked the little chanterelles but I felt that the rabbit was thrown in just to have a meat protein in there. It all looked a little sloppy and definitely needed something to lift the flavors--a bit of chopped herbs or maybe some lemon zest.

My favorite dish besides the bratwurst was definitely the guinea hen--it was perfectly cooked, nice and juicy inside with plenty of pancetta wrapped around it for added flavor. The greens were nicely bitter and not overcooked. They could have used just a little hit of lemon juice, maybe. I didn't get to taste the potatoes. We didn't have dessert.

Service was excellent. The servers have plenty of help in the form of food runners, beverage staff, etc., so we were never left unattended. Our server was wonderful--she knew the answer to every question we asked and helped us choose some great bottles of wine. The total bill for six people plus wine was $300.00; some people had cocktails, too. Considering the wonderful service and good food, I'd say it was worth it.

#17 Jill-O

Jill-O
  • Moderator
  • 7,048 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Eastside, on the cusp between N and S

Posted 05 January 2010 - 03:15 PM

Great recap of your meal Sarah, thanks so much for posting it!

Grüner is on my list...but I bet I make it to Spints first...
Never give up! Never surrender!

#18 ExtraMSG

ExtraMSG
  • Admin
  • 18,045 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Felony Flats
  • Interests:Me like food.

Posted 05 January 2010 - 03:28 PM

Well, Sarah, I'd say you need to be posting more reviews, then, because that one was excellent.
The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole & Kenny & Zuke's

#19 Jill-O

Jill-O
  • Moderator
  • 7,048 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Eastside, on the cusp between N and S

Posted 05 January 2010 - 03:46 PM

Well, Sarah, I'd say you need to be posting more reviews, then, because that one was excellent.


Amen my brother...
Never give up! Never surrender!

#20 Angelhair

Angelhair
  • Moderator
  • 7,593 posts
  • Location:downtown
  • Interests:film, cooking, literature

Posted 05 January 2010 - 07:24 PM

Had dinner at the bar again tonight. They were turning people away. Make a rez!