Departure looks like something a teenage Tony Stark might have drawn in his spiral notebook while daydreaming in history class. Indeed, this elegant restaurant and lounge high atop the LEED-certified Nines Hotel in downtown Portland, Ore. is as sleekly engineered as Iron Man's suit. After stepping out of the elevator on the 15th floor of the nearly 80-year old Meier and Frank building, visitors are transported into a futuristic bistro that's one part Mad Men, one part Space Mountain.
A purple corridor leads into the restaurant itself, which combines smooth woodwork with interior design that might be best described as "Space-Age Bachelor Pad." Take a seat at the bar for one of Departure's signature drinks like "The Arrival," a tasty mix of Prosecco, St. Germain and peach bitters. The bartenders can also whip up a mean Mai Thai. The lounge's signature drink, "The Departure," infuses locally-produced Aviator gin with fresh lime, Green Chartreuse and Luxardo Maraschino.
Or a simple Gin & Tonic always goes well with the view from Departure's two balconies, which offer glimpses at the twinkling core of downtown Portland. On a clear evening, imbibers can see all the way to Mt. St. Helens to the north and Mt. Hood to the east.
The menu offers modern Asian cuisine that uses traditional techniques from the Far East. The staff strives to include authentic ingredients all the way from the Mongolian Steppe to Kyoto, creating some of the most unique fare in Portland. The sushi list includes Hamachi Sashimi (spiced with apple and ginger) and Citrus Cured Salmon Rolls (with tempura asparagus, kaiware and Yuzu chili sauce). Also on the menu: Indonesian Spiced Chicken and Ishiyaki Steak. Just about everything here goes well with dessert items like Hand-Dipped Pocky Sticks and Fried Ginger Cream.
It's no wonder that celebs like Harrison Ford have been known to stop in during breaks from film shoots in the area. Departure, simply put, is one of the coolest and classiest spots in the city.
Departure Restaurant + Lounge
525 S.W. Morrison St.
Portland, OR 97204