Tucked in an unmarked space across the street from Beast, Expatriate is a speakeasy small plates spot in Northeast Portland. Cocktails that riff on the classics are mixed skillfully by Kyle Linden Webster, and they pair with small plates by Mrs. Linden Webster, a.k.a. Naomi Pomeroy of Top Chef Masters/James Beard Award fame.
The space is dark with a stylish minimalist vibe. The mood can vary based upon the flavor of vinyl that the proprietor spins from his vault.
Every drink has a story. The old school drinks explain their origin, noting the inspiration. The Infante, named after Mexican idol Pedro Infante, mixes Pueblo Viejo tequila blanca, fresh lime juice, fresh orgeat and local honey. It is dusted with fresh grated nutmeg, and the spectacular ice cools the drink beautifully.
The Royal Hawaiian contrasts a spicy gin base accented with bitters and citrus juices. It is named for a hotel opened in the 1920s influenced by the work of Rudolph Valentino.
The food is every bit as interesting as the drinks. While there are only a few vegetarian options on the menu, everything was perfect paired with the cocktails.
I will crave the James Beard tea sandwich until my dying day. Crustless white egg bread is layered with cold butter, parsley, thinly sliced white onions and crunchy grey sea salt. Imagine the most delicious cucumber sandwich and elevate it.
The hot and sour Indian curry fries are liberally dusted in a makeshift garam masala, and served with cilantro raita, curry ketchup and sumac ranch. The hints of sweetness temper the spiciness, and the creamy condiments add another layer of richness to the gourmet bar snack.
Epatriate has popped up on the radar in many important places, including being nominated as one of Bon Appetit's 50 Best New Restaurants of 2014. It is a fun experience, less serious than Beast across the street. Neither Beast nor Expatriate should be missed, though Expatriate's menu seems more vegetarian friendly.