Portland >Food & Dining > Navarre
10 NE 28th Ave, Portland, OR | Directions 9723245.523066 -122.637250
Neighborhoods: Southeast Uplift Neighborhood Program, Kerns
Feel a little bit European at this busy small plates place, with its simple, relaxed vibe and seasonal food. Great spot for date night--and definitely order wine, the wines are always my favorite part of the meal.
Love this tiny northeast room. Lovely food from radishes to rabbit with service to match. If you think variety is the spice of life then fill your table with one of each of their Spanish/Basque inspired small plates and save room for dessert.
What does a restaurant with a CSA do with leftover fruit and vegetables? Pickle them of course, and then use them for everything from garnish on cocktails to preserved spread for crab cakes. Navarre's rotating menu of Italian,
French and Spanish dishes and small craft kitchen vibe, make this a sweet spot in the Portland dining scene.
An Evening-Ruiner! – Our party of 10 was seated, and from the beginning it was a confusing, claustrophobic, and anxiety-provoking experience. They provided only one wine list and menu for the table, and my request for another was met with a cold stare, not another list. One end of the table managed to wrangle a bottle of wine, while the other waited for another 15 minutes.
Some of the party decided they wanted the set menu, others did not. The server seemed to be unable to make this distinction however, even though the set menu folks were on one end of the table and the rest at the other end. The people who did not choose the set menu received their items 40 minutes after the set menu people. In the meantime, it continued to be a struggle to get the server's attention for more wine. Items were slammed down on the table by the now visibly angry server, with no explanation of what anything was.
Was the food tasty? Yes, but we really didn't enjoy it.
Lest you think we're philistines who don't know how to navigate a Tapas restaurant, let me assure you, we're not. Our party included restaurant and wine industry people, and experienced travelers and diners. Also, we're a nice, thoroughly polite and smiley, high tipping bunch, who tried to maintain politeness and good cheer throughout the ordeal.
Based on my experience, and other reviews I've read here, it seems that Navarre should just come out and say they dislike serving parties of more than eight, and refuse to do so. Or, they should enforce the set menu for large parties.
Even though the server was one of the most singularly unpleasant I've ever encountered, I can't really say that I blame her. Navarre's space is crowded and impossible to navigate, even by European standards, and their "simple" ordering system is actually bizarrely complicated- I would probably be surly if I had to work there!
NEVER going back!! – Where do I start? I'd rather give ZERO STARS. I was SOOOO disappointed with the service and with the entire experience in general!!
I made a reservation for 15 people about 3-4 weeks prior to the date. When I called, I asked if the restaurant could host a table of that size, and I was told yes.
Obviously, a reservation of that size indicates a special occasion. My best friends are getting married, and I wanted them to have a special dining experience. Our group has enjoyed tapas at other places, so I thought this would be a great choice. I also called one week prior to the reservation to confirm the table size, and to ask if it was ok to bring in an outside cake. I was told on the phone this was fine, but when I arrived with my cake, the server said she wasn't sure there would be anywhere to put the cake while we were eating. Hmmm...I don't understand this at all. Should they have mentioned that to me when I called about the cake a week ago? I think so!!
When we sat down, the staff decided to remove one of our tables. This was so unnecessary, and it just annoyed all of us. To top it off, the table they removed from ours sat unused for the majority of the next hour, because there was no room to actually seat anyone at it. What was the point of that? We should have left right then, but we didn't. I'm sure other restaurants in the area would've been glad to have our business.
About 6 of us were 10 minutes early, and we ordered a bottle of wine while we waited for the rest of the group. More guests arrived and while the first 6 of us had wine, the rest of the group sat for probably 20-30 minutes without anyone coming to get their drink order. I practically had to beg one of the servers to bring us drinks throughout the evening. I also do not remember anyone EVER asking us how the food tasted. The food was ok, but nothing earth-shaking, especially compared to how horrific the servers treated us. The food was the only mediocre part of the experience although there was never salt and pepper on the table....hmmm.
Our friends with newborn twins had to leave a little early, and of course since no one was paying attention to us, they had to seek out someone to pay their portion of the bill. At the end of the meal, one of the servers told me that the other guest had not included gratuity in his paid amount. I wish I had said "I wonder why?" with dripping sarcasm. I also wish I had left no tip, but I decided that the chefs at least deserved a half-nod.
Our group actually loves to tip well...for GOOD SERVICE, not for servers who act like we are rodents carrying the bubonic plague, which is how we were treated. NEVER EVER going back. BOOOO!!!!
Just know before you go – My husband and I are always trying out new places and new food. This place looked very interesting and the online menu looked good.
When they give you the checklist and explain it to you, they suggest that 6-8 items will feed two people. More like 10-12, maybe, depends on what you order.
It wasn't too busy but we got a small table in the back. That meant one of us stared all evening at the bathroom door and who came and went from it! A hanging curtain or standing screen would have been nice.
We got the heavily crusted bread, but had not checked the oil on the list, so we had to ask for it. We looked at the potatoes or the gratin and settled on the gratin only to find it was a vegetable gratin (no written description given). Bland.
My husband ordered the tuna, which is one of his favorite fish and simply couldn't eat it. I ordered the chicken breast and we laughed that we should have ordered 6-8 of those!
Wine was good, so we only consider $35 a loss and our $20 HALF Bottle of wine a good investment.
We walked out the door and my husband asked if I wanted to get a pizza?!
Best of luck to these folks, but consider adding some spices to the dishes and some flavor to the pate's!
Wonderful meals – I've eaten here twice with out of town guests and had great experiences both times. So many wonderful wines to choose from (by the glass!) and I love the tapa-style portions; everything full of flavor and done to perfection. And the red velvet cake - yes, sublime.
Navarre – I have been to this restaurant twice and have loved both experiences. The food is excellent, the service is friendly, atmosphere lively... The portions are smaller than most American restaurants, however, the food is so satisfying that you don't need huge portions. The taste is what counts and it is very good. Fresh vegetables, delicious meats, tastes like a great, healthy, home cooked meal. Very happy to have such a restaurant here in Portland!
Hit and miss – I have had two great experiences and three terrible. It makes me very apprehensive to go back. Breakfast was atrocious (potatoes gray, trout smelled, etc)and we had a meal where my husband actually spit out food. When they are great though, they are spot on. I had roasted leeks one time that was unlike any leeks I had before. They also have had a red velvet cake which was sublime. Go, but choose wisely.
Awesome food, definitely worth a try! – I'm not sure what the last reviewer was expecting, but I've been for lunch and now dinner with my wife. Both were great experiences. We were seated promptly, received great attention throughout our meal and thoroughly enjoyed the delicious food. The chef prepares great, season appropriate food, all of which was incredible. His duck breast was the best that I've had. I'd definitely recommend this to anyone who wants an enjoyable small plate experience
Glad it was free – I'm not the type of person to usually gripe about something I don't like, but when its really bad, I just feel I have to.
Fortunately on our part, we were given a gift certificate so the meal was free. If I had been required to pay for the food we ate, I would have taken a bite of everything and sent it back. There was not a single item that we had that made this enjoyable. The bread was burnt on the ends and crusty (not to mention they charge you for bread and olive oil.) and the center of the bread was full of holes. We ordered olives as an appetizer which were the best part; I mean, you can't screw up an olive can you?
As far as the meal went, we ordered the buffalo steak and the chicken which we were told had a smoked chili flavor to the sauce. It was neither. It was a dill bland flavor that tasted horrible. I was hoping the sauce I'd want to use the bread for, but the sauce and bread together didn't help either of them. The buffalo was chewy and didn't come with any real seasoning or sauce. Just 6 thinly sliced pieces of meat. The vegetables we ordered were the braised greens and mushrooms; the mushrooms were decent, but the greens were wet flavorless kale. We decided to have dessert and tried the almond cake. The top layer of chocolate was so hard I couldn't cut my fork through it. We seriously were laughing about the experience, as nothing even came close to filling our appetite, and our bill came to $45.
The service wasn't horrible, but far from great, and if you like to freeze every time the door opens, you're in luck. As I looked at the 4 other diners across from us who were just beginning their meal, they had the same stunned reaction on their faces when they saw their plate sizes and crunchy bread. Needless to say, I don't think we were the only ones left with a bad taste in our mouths. Won't be going back.
NEVAH EVAH AGAIN! – My fiance and I were being taken out for a Thank You dinner by a friend that we helped with a project and his girlfriend. I suggested we try here. (Cue Cher's "If I Could Turn Back Time")
Im not an unreasonable person. A popular restaurant on a Friday night; I expected a wait. No problem. I was pleasantly surprised when a friendly male server (who turned out to be the ONLY saving grace about our entire experience) informed us that our wait would be short. Maybe we should've clarified what "short" meant to him. In the meantime he brings us this RIDICULOUSLY, unnecessarily complicated menu/ordering system, a brief explanation of it that was shouted over the loud din of the diners and then left us to wonder if there was going to be an informational video to follow that would further clarify.
Forty five minutes later he comes by to apologize and say it looks like the table he thought was going to free up for us was ordering dessert. As my party smiled and said okay and goodbye and made our way outside, we realized there was a place to sit and eat outside. We should have just kept going!!! He said he would be happy to serve us out there and offered us some bread and water. Returning with menus he then says oh..the table was paying their bill and getting ready to leave after all. (Merry go round, much?) and said go ahead and order outside and he'd make sure we were seated inside when the table cleared and the food would be right after us.
We were finally seated. Happy in the knowledge that our order had gone in over 10 minutes earlier, we were sure we'd be eating at any moment and we were starving. Another TWENTY minutes passed and our good mood we had collectively managed to sustain was quickly turning sour, and FINALLY food arrives. Now I realize this is a tapas joint. Which is why we ordered mostly large plates. But apparently just like the waiter had his ideas of what a "short" wait was, the chef also has his ideas of what a "large" plate is. $20 for the large lamb plate equated to 3 small slabs of meat on 5 inch bones. $8 for a small serving of vinegar mustard chicken equated to 1 tiny piece of chicken thigh. Our potato pancakes were charred and so hard in places that I thought my fork would break before the potato did!
As for service...what an unfunny joke! I had a question to ask my server, couldnt find her, so I attempted to catch the attention of another and watched as she looked at me in my EYES and continued walking away. "Yes, that just happened" is the response my friend gave me at the look of incredulity on my face. We couldnt wait to get out of there and end what turned out to be a horrible dining experience.
When I saw the bill at $80 with nothing to drink but water and not one stomach sated, I felt on the verge of a blood vessel bursting and stroking out right there across the table. Total robbery. When you are sitting at a table with an $80 bill and thinking about what you're going to order at Wendy's drive through, you know you had a dining FAIL.
If you like throwing your money away, being ignored and having the tiniest portions known to man to boot, then Navarre is for you. Bring Lube. Everyone else, do yourself, your wallet and your blood pressure a favor and skip this black hole
Worth a try – I think most people would agree that a restaurant can have an off night once in awhile. So when I tried to find a restaurant to have my birthday dinner at I did a lot of research on City Search and other restaurant review sites. Overall it seems to me that the people who tend to write reviews are the ones that say a restaurant, food or service was horrible. I especially like reading the really bad reviews when the owner responds asking why the reviewer/customer did not speak up when they had the bad experience. One great come back from an owner was something along the lines of “REALLY? You sat there waiting for your food for 1 1/2 hours and DID NOT say anything?”
My criteria for the restaurant were:
1. Somewhere I hadn’t eaten at before
2. Interesting décor or ambiance
3. A variety of dishes the three of us would like
4. Ethnic or specialty dishes
5. Not a food cart but not too expensive for my daughter’s wallet. After all she was buying.
6. Location, not too far away so as to make a long night of it driving clear across town and back
What I found I wanted to try were several smaller, niche or ethnic restaurants on what is known as Portland’s NE 28th Ave. restaurant row or a couple of others in that neighborhood. The difficulty was that a couple of my first choices were closed on Mondays.
So I narrowed it down to two restaurants. The leading contender became Navarre because a woman that I work with said she had eaten there and it was good. Navarre doesn’t yet have a website with their menu posted, they just have a blog. I found reviews on City Search titled A Real Disappointment, One of the worst meals I've ever had in Portland!, Rustic, gritty, real, organic in every sense., pretty good, One of my favorite places in town, A wonderful place to eat, etc, etc.
So what did we think? Navarre is a tapas place. We ordered 10 small plates ranging from really good rustic bread with lemon grass olive oil, chicken on the bone served in a bowl with a lot of broth (great flavor, chicken a bit over cooked), French cheeses, (my daughter thought that the Camembert smelled like my aunt’s barn). I loved the Brie, Blue Cheese and Camembert spread on the rustic bread. Other dishes – daughter and SIL really liked the porcini and corn salad, we had two potato plates, an a gratin and a pancake, both of which were really good, none of us really liked the braised greens, in fact daughter wouldn’t even try them. The one dish that we all agreed was the best was a pork plate. It was hot, juicy and had a wonderful flavor. We would have ordered a 2nd pork plate but they had run out. We all three had dessert and declared them all to be very good.
Our overall rating was something like “good maybe not great but we would eat there again, service was kind of slow but they have a very small kitchen and the place was jammed packed and we weren’t in a hurry. Tapas is a great way to try many things without committing to one dish that you may end up not liking. For three people, a bottle of wine and dessert with tip the bill was about $100. Not too bad.
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