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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Portland
Food
Feel
Price
7.6
8.0
$110
Steakhouse, Modern
Upmarket restaurant

Hours
Mon–Thu 6:30am–3:00pm
Mon–Thu 5:00pm–10:00pm
Fri 6:30am–3:00pm
Fri 5:00pm–11:00pm
Sat 11:00am–3:00pm
Sat 5:00pm–11:00pm
Sun 11:30am–3:00pm
Sun 5:00pm–10:00pm

Features Date-friendly
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted

Website

Downtown
525 SW Morrison St.
Portland, OR
(503) 222-4900
Urban Farmer
Sample pricey flights of beef in a post-modernist urban pasture

On the eighth floor of The Nines hotel, in an atrium courtyard that is airy and bright by day and darkly sexy at night, is the hippest steakhouse in the city. Although Urban Farmer’s swanky décor feels decidedly PR-slutty—like NYC’s Soho Grand, where you stand a very good chance of spilling your Corpse Reviver on an It-girl—the nature-meets-architecture theme does make for good eye candy: antler chandeliers; pickling jars as accessories; and what appears to be sorghum growing healthily between the booths. It’s like a celebrity’s theme park devoted to Portland’s farm-to-table movement.

The central problem here is that to capitalize financially on what Portland represents, in such a dramatic way, is...well...very un-Portland. This is easily the most overpriced restaurant in the city, with steaks that shatter the $50 ceiling, and even, in one case, the $75 ceiling. That’s downright insulting. We’re not in Vegas or St-Tropez.

You can choose from corn-fed beef, grass-fed/grain-finished beef (it helps it get that familiar beefy flavor Americans can’t do without), and all grass-fed. American wagyu gets its own category, despite the fact that it should, technically, fall within the grain-fed category.

And if you can swing it, do try the incredible, mouth-melting wagyu at an equally incredible, wallet-melting price. This kitchen does great justice to these wonderful, quality meats. Strawberry Mountain NY Strip is available dry-aged for 21 or 42 days. In a world where steakhouses have historically been one of the largest customers of the industrial meat complex, it’s nice to see a focus on provenance. But at what prices!

Of course, you don’t have to get steak. A special one night of beans baked with duck and sausage, rather like a cassoulet, was pretty underwhelming. Some small plates feel gimmicky, like Dungeness crab crêpe with shaved snap peas and lime that turns out no better than your average crab cake.

The wine list is overpriced and not at all interesting—in that way, it really does resemble a steakhouse. Instead, explore the cocktail program; both classics and twists are done very well. Better yet, enjoy the cocktails in the spectacular top-floor bar, Departures, complete with views and exquisite cruise-ship theming. A “Moonshiner Boilermaker” gets house-made moonshine with a teacup chaser of…cold tea. It’s fun, like Urban Farmer, and maybe just as equally meant to be a sporadic thing.

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