Being named runner-up in a newspaper's "readers poll" of new restaurants may not seem very prestigious, but when the paper is Willamette Week and the city is PDX it's really saying something special. Portland has more than it's share of amazing chefs and fabulous dining experiences opening every year. One of those chefs is Vitally Paley, and when he opens a new joint people will always show up. To keep them raving and coming back takes skill that few chefs possess, but Chef Paley has been doing it for years, and his 4th restaurant is truly something special.
When the Heathman shut down their lobby restaurant in 2016 there was a lot of attention, and it went up a few notches when it was announced that Chef Paley and his wife and business partner Kimberly Paley would be opening a seafood restaurant there.
I finally had a chance to visit this week, and it definitely lived up to it's reputation. Featuring a few staples like fresh clams and mussels, an amazing seafood tower, and an amazing 14oz steak would be enough to keep people coming back. Adding amazing catch-of-the-day specials and live crab and lobster along side a "Russian Tea Experience" on Sunday afternoons makes it a must visit. Chef Paley has another winner and the city is better for it.
I had the amazing 14oz ribeye from Brandt Farms, served simply rubbed with roasted garlic before being grilled to a perfect medium rare and accompanied by a wonderfully creamy Sauce Bernaise. The steak was perfectly cooked and not choosing to clutter the plate with a lot of side dishes or garnish shows the understanding of the ingredients that the staff has in the kitchen. It's surprising how few chefs in this city are willing to let a gorgeous steak be a steak without dressing it up too much.
I ordered the braised market greens and sweet corn grits as side dishes, and both were great if not what I expected. The greens had a decidedly asian flavor with the combination of coconut milk and chilies. The sweet corn grits I expected to be ground sweet corn grits, but ended up being whole kernel corn prepared the way grits would be. It was a surprise but perfect in it's flavor profile and simple presentation.
Overall it was a great dining experience, and one I will have again soon. Headwaters is definitely "Fat Boy Approved"