Naomi Pomeroy and Kyle Webster on their new Portland cocktail bar, Expatriate
PORTLAND, OREGON - July 24, 2013 - Kyle Linden Webster (left) has opened a cocktail bar in Northeast Portland, across from his wife (right) Naomi Pomeroy's restaurant Beast. His bar is Expatriate.
By Michael Russell, The Oregonian Photos by Stephanie Yao Long/The Oregonian
Naomi Pomeroy answers her phone while shopping for supplies at Mingala International Market on Southeast 122nd Avenue, one of the few Portland markets that carry Burmese ingredients.
"I'm buying all the green mango powder today," Pomeroy says. "So don't send anyone out here."
Pomeroy and her husband, Kyle Linden Webster, recently opened Expatriate, "a little cocktail lounge in Northeast (Portland)" with drinks from Webster (the opening bartender at St. Jack) and food from Pomeroy (of Beast restaurant and "Top Chef Masters" fame). For Pomeroy, dubbed a "cooking-world star" by none other than The New Yorker last year, Expatriate is a chance to explore new culinary territory free from the expectations of Beast.
"It's a chance to play," she says. "People expect Beast to be a refined dining experience. I'm just excited to go back to the roots of why I was inspired to cook in the first place."
Those roots, Pomeroy says, include a year in India, a time when she "first started getting into cooking." More recently, the chef has traveled to Southeast Asia, including Thailand and Myanmar, and was named a culinary diplomat with the state department's new American Chef Corps.
While the early report on Expatriate was that it would represent our superstar chef's crack at Burmese food, the menu actually features a list of culture-bridging bar snacks and cocktails (though a Burmese-style tea leaf salad does appear).
The green mango powder Pomeroy bought, for instance, gets introduced to Expatriate's French fries. Chinese sausage made with house-mixed five-spice powder is turned into a corn dog. Samosas are chopped into a salad dressed with sumac-flavored ranch.
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"I'm going back to one of the things that got me excited about cooking, which is all of the crazy intense flavors of different lands," Pomeroy says. "The goal has been to create drinking food -- salty, spicy, that kind of stuff, but we throw a ton of freshness in there, too, since that's a little unexpected."
Behind the bar, Webster is trying out a new flavor profile to match Pomeroy's food. The respected barman, who redesigned the menu at Chinatown's Ping last year, says he's trying out fruit juices, palm sugar and other ingredients he comes across at Asian markets like Mingala.
"There's a certain range of flavors that you can do in a French restaurant," he says. "With Expatriate, we're looking at what's best, it doesn't matter where it's from. We're playing with flavors from America, Thailand, Burma, whatever is most delicious."
For Webster, one of the best parts about the new bar has been collaborating with Pomeroy.
"If you're going to work too much you might as well be within sight of your wife," he says.
Webster recently asked Pomeroy to update his recipe for the grenadine used in the Guillotine, a rum-based cocktail that was a customer favorite at St. Jack. She came back with a syrup infused with vanilla bean and lime.
"It was incredible," Webster says. "She made what a traditional bartender might make, but she brought a chef's ability to it. I could never make that."
What: Naomi Pomeroy and Kyle Webster's new cocktail lounge, with South and Southeast-Asian inspired "bar snacks"
Where: 5424 N.E. 30th Ave.
Details: Follow on Twitter @expatriatepdx