The upside of Brooklyn

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Peter and Orenda Hale, with infant, owners of the Drifters Wife.

When did Brooklyn bashing become a thing?

It’s no secret that the Brooklyn-to-Portland pipeline is robust. Nowhere is this more manifest than on Portland’s diverse and teeming food scene.

A recent screed posing as a restaurant review in an alt-weekly denigrated the influx of immigrants From Away, specifying Brooklynites particularly as “unwelcome” cultural interlopers. The target: Drifters Wife.

The reviewer even suggested a wall, painting a distorted picture of these fresh-faced newcomers catalyzing Portland’s gustatory evolution. The place that gave us Walt Whitman and Nathan’s Famous Hotdogs can’t be that bad.

The stylish, intimate Drifters Wife, open six months, is run by husband and wife team Peter and Orenda Hale. Gracious hosts, they immediately put one at ease. My experience couldn’t have been further from the Phoenix reviewer’s. I visited for the first time recently and appreciated the relaxed, late-night welcome. 

We walked in close to 10 p.m. on a Thursday. Having been misinformed by a friend who lives in the neighborhood that they wouldn’t be serving after 9p, we plunged ahead anyway and were seated and served in a New York minute.

The chef, chatting with the owners in a front window, didn’t hesitate to rise, throw on an apron and whip up a tasty nighthawk nosh. A crisp rose and bluefish melange with fresh basil materialized. DW offered a cosmopolitan air that capped the evening. If this is Brooklyn-ish, more please. 

Portland 2016 is a far cry from the early aughts. Back then people from Buffalo, let alone New York’s creative borough, weren’t flocking here. Portland is a peninsula that needs circulation of fresh, flowing currents to keep things vital and alive.

Like the malted iced coffee and birdhouse muffin at Tandem? Thank someone from Brooklyn. Excited about locavore chef David Levi’s new venture RossoBianco? Thank someone from Brooklyn. If you go to Biddeford for The Palace Diner’s prized tuna fish sandwich, Brooklyn strikes again.

The old Manhattan trope: “Welcome to New York, Now Go Home,” needn’t be replicated here. Portland’s no place for hipster hate.

Kathleen Pierce

About Kathleen Pierce

A lifelong journalist with a deep curiosity for what's next. Interested in food, culture, trends and the thrill of a good scoop. BDN features reporter based in Portland since 2013.