Offering a new perspective on Portland’s urban cityscape, Departure Restaurant and Lounge recently opened for dinner and happy hour on the 15th floor of the new luxury hotel, the Nines in Portland, Oregon.
Departure’s design concept is grounded in the history of the site while taking advantage of the unique Portland culture. The restaurant is housed on the top floor of the former Meier and Frank building, dating back to 1909. Adding a 15th floor to the building afforded designers to open the restaurant to the urban landscape. Two large decks offer views of the distant peaks of Mt. Hood and Mount St.
Helens, the west hills or the city lights. The space captures the nostalgic days when shoppers could take the legendary monorail in the Meier and Frank Building and when an “around the world” ocean voyage was de rigueur for the modern traveler. Marine teak decking, sailcloth panels and nautical map murals provide reminders of historic ocean liners. Ship portals appear in the corridor leading to the restrooms and offer a playful glimpse into the kitchen. In the center of the dining room, a teak-clad “smokestack” floats above the bar to penetrate a large windshield above.
“Our concept is based on the experience of travel and what it is like to be exposed to worldly things," said architect Jeff Kovel. “Like the perspective that comes with travel, there are endless ways to see and be seen. There are no bad seats in the house. The play between observing and being observed is both subtle and overt. The city is watching you as much as you are viewing its urban horizon.”
Departure’s chef Bryan Emperor -- recently from New York City and Virginia -- has created a modern Asian menu elevating the authentic coastal cuisines found throughout Southeast Asia and the Japanese- style Izakaya, a casual dining experience akin to a neighborhood pub.
The menu is divided into a variety of sections and guests are encouraged to order from the different cuisines to share with fellow diners. The cocktail list features ingredients found throughout the world, along with a specific emphasis on one port of call each month.
Departure’s saké list features 30 hand-crafted sakés including unfiltered and house-style saké.