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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Portland
Food
Feel
Price
6.2
8.5
$40
Modern
Casual restaurant

Hours
Tue–Fri 4:00pm–9:00pm
Sat 9:00am–2:00pm
Sat 5:00pm–10:00pm
Sun 9:00am–2:00pm

Features Date-friendly, outdoor dining, veg-friendly, Wi-Fi
Bar Beer, wine, liquor, BYO
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted

Website

Northeast Portland
830 N. Shaver St.
Portland, OR
(503) 460-3333
Equinox
An inviting patio and a creative menu that sometimes translates to the plate

Equinox is one of those places people are loath to criticize. We suspect that the reason is the patio; it’s spacious, with lots of tables, each with its own colorful umbrella. In cold weather, there are plenty of gas heaters and warm flagstones under your feet to reflect the heat of the day as the light wanes. It’s one of the best outdoor dining spaces in Portland. The inside of the restaurant is pretty nice, too. One entire side opens up on warm days, and there are large skylights and a wall of glass channeling a flood of natural light.

But a restaurant is the sum of many factors. Service has historically been a problem here, both clueless and unapologetic, even on slower nights. Specialty cocktails vary wildly from night to night, ranging from balanced to off-key.

More troubling is the execution of the innovative menu, perhaps due to its ambitious globetrotting (with sometimes as many as four regional influences in a single dish.) Some descriptions give us pause—almost as much pause as the oddly Mario Puzo-ish font in the logo.

Salads (called “Weeds” here—cheeky!) aren’t terribly unique, but, perhaps uncoincidentally, they work best. We especially like a plate of beets and fennel-blood-orange vinaigrette, and another of pan-seared chèvre cakes with roasted Bosc pears and lemon-mint vinaigrette. In a move that’s sort of pandering and lame, you can add tofu, grilled chicken, smoked salmon, or shrimp to any of the salads.

A small selection of pastas is straightforward and quite nice. But mains are problematic. Vegetarian “Oaxacan” enchiladas are full of good spaghetti squash, queso fresco, and spinach, but red mole is monotonous and oversalted. A grilled hanger steak, though nicely flavored, has come so unevenly cooked that, sliced on the plate, some pieces were almost raw, while others were completely overcooked.

We appreciate that the restaurant is built from recycled materials and that it uses renewable energy, local produce, organic meats, wild seafood, and cage-free eggs. The patio is an incredibly nice place to have brunch. But for a restaurant to be this popular and yet still so topsy-turvy, we have to wonder: is there better still to come for this progressive restaurant?

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