Portland’s most revered chefs are not only hard at work creating memorable dining experiences in their well-established and frequently-visited restaurants, they’re busy creating new, more casual spaces to showcase their food alongside great wines. These new wine bars-cum-restaurants are offering guests approachable menus with extensive selections of interesting and obscure wines while serving as a kitchen playground for the chef.
Thelonious Wines first opened as a bottle shop, then began serving wine by the glass, and eventually served small bites. But as their business grew, and customers expressed interest in more food options, owners Kelsey Glasser and Alex Marchesini looked at expansion. The Arden space, barely a block away, had been sitting empty, and when the couple fortuitously connected with Michelin-starred chef Sara Hauman, they knew they had the makings of a real restaurant. Glasser jokes that she and Marchesini quickly realized they just might kill each other if they were running two business together, so they split them up; Marchesini kept Thelonious and Glasser kept Arden.
Glasser says Arden is moving away from the “wine bar” label to avoid the connotation of cheese, charcuterie and wine flights. “We are really a wine-focused restaurant.” She thinks the recent explosion of wine bars dedicated to great food is fantastic, though. “Any chef worth their salt has a good palate and enjoys good wine. So, it makes sense that chefs would want to create dishes that are enhanced by great wine and vice versa.”
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