Go Eat! Big flavor from a tiny restaurant

Go Eat! Big flavor from a tiny restaurant

There are big flavors coming out of a tiny restaurant on top of Queen Anne.

"It's very neighborhood driven. I can walk out on a Saturday night and I know every single person in the dining room which is pretty unique," says Vuong Loc, who opened Portage with his wife nearly two years ago.

You can find him in the kitchen every night, cooking up a French-inspired menu.

"One reason we love French food so much is that the goal is to extract the most flavor from a single product and doing it in a very simple way.

"The majority of my menu is just, like, what I feel like eating that day. I order it in and I cook it for everybody. It's kind of like throwing a party every day."

Portage earned a 3-star review from the Seattle Times, and a 3 1/2-star review from the PI for thoughtfully comprised dishes like:

"Some fresh halibut with some pickled fiddle-head ferns," Loc says. "We actually got the first batch of morels in that we're going to serve with some Alaskan spot prawns. We have a local hanger steak with some duck eggs."

The restaurant, which houses about a dozen tables and a four-person bar, fills up quickly.

"You know, it's a place that you can come and enjoy and have a nice conversation and a great glass of wine or a bottle of wine and some good food -- where you can enjoy each other's company. You're not going to come here and then hurry up to go out to the club. This is the event of the night."

Eventually, the Locs would like to expand into another concept all together.

"We were actually thinking about maybe like a small gastro or brew pub in the area."

Loc says he and his wife are traditionalists who created Portage as a home-away-from home for their customers.

"Our goal is to just make people happy. Just come in and sit and relax. There's no bumping music, there's no loud noises; the service is very refined without being stuffy."

The restaurant, after all, is a reflection of Vuong's food philosopy.

"To me, there's just nothing better than just having a great meal and sitting down and relaxing and enjoying some good company. I know it's not for everyone, but that's what (food) is for me, and anyone who wants to come and enjoy that, that's great."

Places Vuong likes to Go Eat!: Green Leaf, Monsoon, Sun-Ya, Volterra.

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