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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Portland
Food
Feel
Price
8.9
10
$45
Modern
Upmarket restaurant

Hours
Thu–Mon 5:00pm–10:00pm

Features Date-friendly, good wines, outdoor dining
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC
Reservations Essential

www.nedluddpdx.com

Northeast Portland
3925 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.
Portland, OR
(503) 288-6900
Ned Ludd
Locavore dishes that often charm, and an artfully rustic vibe that always does

The name Ned Ludd conjures up simplicity, a reticent nostalgia, and a deep mistrust of anything too modern or fabricated. It’s just the right name for this place: the staff is food-nerdy, but not pretentious; the servers care as much as the kitchen does, and can talk at length about each of the dishes, some of which are made using vegetables grown in a garden out back. The tiny space is cozy and farmhousish, with sacks of this and kegs of that, a wood pile, and plank wooden bars and tables at which to stand or sit. Vivid lime-green walls and shabby-chic chandeliers lend hipness to the rusticity. Part of the kitchen is open to the dining area, and the chef/owner is generally hanging out there the entire time interacting with customers.

If the accolades ended there, we’d still think this a terribly fun and romantic place to be, but the food makes it a spectacular experience, even when not every dish works. You’ll find seasonal preps here that are neither fussy nor boring: an ideal balance of originality, modernity, and simplicity. In summer, barbecue is served at the seating area out front, and includes things like an absolutely delicious cheeseburger cooked over applewood. A beer brat is good and juicy, if a bit overwhelmed by too much dry bread. Ned’s rendition of a Carolina-style pulled pork sandwich tastes right (if a little dry), with a good smokiness that’s hard to find in this part of the world.

In the main dining room, you might find a wonderful plate of heirloom tomatoes with goat cheese, cucumbers, bright tarragon, and a kiss of chili. A gratin of green beans, zucchini, and mushrooms is like a comfort-food casserole—a better version of dinner at auntie’s house. “Meat pie,” with lamb and pork, is a bit underseasoned, not the kitchen’s best work, but the puff pastry is beautifully executed. A whole trout, blackened and crusted in the brick oven, retains a very moist flesh within, and is served in a delicious prep with tons of lemon and dill.

The wine list is small and precise, with both local producers and food-loving bottles from abroad, all at wonderfully low prices, and the $10 corkage is generous. A tight, succinct selection of local beers on draft has every bit as much careful economy as a drawing on the head of a pin. In the balance, this is one of our very favorite places in the city to dine.

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