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Jun 9, 2012 08:37 PM

Sitka and spruce really?

Dinner fir three: very small portions coupled with very high prices! I ordered a bottle of wine and the waiter brought an OPEN bottle to the table. When I questioned the waiter he looked perplexed. How do I know what wine was in that bottle. The check for three of us was $165. And we all left hungry and stopped at Dicks for a $1.65 cheeseburger that was great. I learned my lesson about Sitka and Spruce.

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    1. I LOVED the old place on Eastlake. Matt being charming, tasty food, the inconspicuous Eastlake-ness of it. I haven't loved the new place. No Matt, more self-conscious non-consumption (conspicuous consumption for the new generation, except everything is conspicuously rustic and handmade instead. Look at our pickles! Look at our repurposed vintage whatever! Look at our half assed science project preserved lemons! Total Portlandia.)

      Went for lunch several weeks ago, had some tasty but oily small plate salad, didn't particularly want another small plate salad or a $50 lunch. Left hungry and wishing I'd gone somewhere else. But hey, James Beard can't be wrong, right?

      9 Replies
      1. re: babette feasts

        Hi, babette:

        You are risking your immortal soul with such heresy! Too-big-for-its-pants? Could it be? Could the prophets have meant some other?

        Honestly, thanks for your honesty.


        1. re: kaleokahu

          I know, I know. Believe me, I don't want the love affair to be over. More and more I find myself annoyed with the small plates to share concept, as they are often too small to share or not a good variety to create an actual meal. I am extremely jaded. On the other hand, I'm currently smitten with Walrus and Carpenter, so all is not lost. Just don't get me started on the new precious bakery in town. I guess I've had enough of preciousness and farmer worship as far as it interferes with getting my belly full.

          1. re: babette feasts

            Hi, babette:

            Bingo, you put your finger right on it. Preciousness (with reduction of pretension).

            Here I was, skulking in shame over wanting real portions, fearing I'd be outed as a Claimjumper fan. But it's not the portion size or its economics that's the real problem, it's the 'tude that all to often underlies it.

            Brilliant. Thanks.


            1. re: kaleokahu

              Agreed, but I'd call this a case of new bottle, old wine. Remember nouvelle cuisine? The attitude & twee tiny portions are the same, only the regionalist context has changed.

              FWIW, I had an excellent lunch with ingredients of similar quality but more reasonable portions at Terra Plata (right next door.)

              1. re: terrier

                We went to Terra Plata for the first time on Friday night. I'm also a bit tired of the small plate concept but the variety and selection at Terra Plata was a nice suprise. We had wonderful cocktails (try the corpse reviver #2 with absinthe. Recommended!), the charcuterie plate (spectacular if you love pork liver pate, which I do), morels with brandied currants (brilliant combo), the cold turnip dish, and the roast pork (savory heaven). We each had a glass of wine with dinner - a dry French white that I've forgotten the name of but it was tasty. Our charming neighbors split their house-made heirloom potato chips which are basically impossible to stop eating. Then we had the chocolate pistaschio torte. Bill with 20% tip came to $160 and I was completely stuffed. Tamara Murphy came to the table and said hello to us and our new friends at the next table. So a lttle spendy but worth it. Nice vibe, great food, will definitely go back.

              2. re: kaleokahu

                You are correct, it is not the portion size or economics per se. Some places do small plates very well, for example there is such great variety of small plates at Harvest Vine that you can have a couple salads, a couple warm veg, a few meats, a few cheeses. I think that is key. And I don't mind that dinner there ends up being $100, because I leave full and happy and kinda buzzed.

                Is it strange that when I go out I want to EAT?

                1. re: babette feasts

                  Hi, babette:

                  You've already been excommunicated. Now you're putting basic human needs ahead of The Buzz?

                  Someone drive a stake and gather firewood... ;)


          2. re: babette feasts

            I think of Sitka & Spruce as a restaurant for people who can't cook for themselves... Über simple, the problem, I think is that any small misstep takes the food from transcendent to boring.

            In my experience when Matt Dillion is in the house much more care is taken with each plate, and the deliciousness of each food is really highlighted. Unfortunately most of the time this does not seem to be the case... Sigh...

          3. I too was underwhelmed by the new Sitka and Spruce. I am still a fan of small plates, but I agree that it has to be done right, with enough substantial plates to make a real meal. Harvest Vine does it right in terms of variety and light to heavy. I also like Wolf/Anchovies and O, because you can fill up on small plates or else you always have the pasta option. W&C I find harder to fill up at--but I won't eat a lot of raw meat or offal, which they seem to have plenty of, so that's a personal thing. I have still filled up, it just doesn't feel as meal like to me.

            1. Hm. I have always enjoyed S&S for lunch and always left plenty filled. Maybe it's a lunch vs. dinner thing. Or it's that my appetite isn't huge. But I did attend a 10-person dinner party in their upstairs space and it was awfully disappointing.

              1. I have been to S&S twice now for their Mexican Mondays and have had excellent experiences both times. While clearly bringing an open bottle to the table is problematic, that probably shouldn't be a deal breaker. As for the portion sizes, my only comparison point is the Monday night dinners, and they seemed perfectly reasonable to me: a queso, a guacamole, and 2-3 plates of tacos was perfectly sufficient for two reasonably hungry individuals.

                Several people in here mentioned Terra Plata as a preferable alternative, and while I have had 1 very good meal there, the other two occasions were disappointing for reasons similar to, or worse than, the open bottle: once I found a hair in an appetizer - it was immediately taken care of, but the rest of the meal was tainted by this experience, and the other time one of the diners received the incorrect dish, an easy mistake to fix. But instead of firing up the correct dish they decided to simply rearrange the protein on a new plate, and so we ended up with chimichurri steak on a salad that included cotija cheese (a rather strange combo).