2831 NE Martin Luther King Bl., Portland, OR | Directions 9721245.543234 -122.661609
staff goes beyond the call.
We booked a 6-top with an hour's notice to celebrate a birthday on a Friday night. It was our second foray to Alu. The hostess seated us at the biggest table in the place (could seat 8-12 depending upon your intimacy), in the front window (read: rock star seating), and didn't fail to arrange for the birthday girl a superb glass of sparkling white. We ate heartily as one love-filled dish after another hit the table in service-to-order style. The pea cake with Blue Crab topped the list, but the duck prosciutto was to die for, and what's not to love about perfectly roasted two-tone beets? We are serious foodies, and this food is seriously good.
But the thing that topped the evening for me was when our lovely and attentive waitress (I won't tell you which one for fear she may be inundated with requests) noticed that I looked un-comfortable (back spasm). She noted that she was a former massage therapist, and if I would like, she could take me aside... 10 minutes later, while my friends were sipping port, I returned, completely blissed-out. Shortly thereafter she returned and handed me a cloth napkin full of ice, and advice to alternate with heat for the next 48 hours. Is that simply a typical portland experience, or stellar service? Either way, we will be regulars at Alu.
A regular knows whats up.
I am an Alu regular, I eat and drink here alone and with friends 1 - 3 nights a week, weeknights and weekends, and I have seen a broad spectrum of the things that go on.
First, I will say that the staff are some of the friendliest in town, there are down to earth, they are all very excited about the food and know a ton about the drinks. Some are vegan, and many ride bikes to work.
Second, the kitchen and the food are beyond amazing, both because Sean, the head chef, is one of the best rising stars in Portland, but also because of how environmentally sound their food practices are. They buy the whole pig, locally, and then cut it up themselves, smoke their own bacon in the back yard, grow their own herbs on the side of the restaurant, and buy the rest almost exclusively from local, family owned farms and vendors. Many of their beers are delivered by the person who made them, because they come from such small batch breweries.
Third, the bar tenders and drinks are without compare. Collin and Hillary are both extraordinarily knowledgeable, about everything from the highest of the high end down to the dirtiest martini.
The complaints - the food can take awhile to arrive, not because the service is slow, but because the kitchen has 1 tiny burner in it to make every hot dish in the place.
The wait for a table can also be a bit, and they don't have much "waiting space" in front.
That said, this only applies Friday/Saturday nights when they are packed, Monday - Thursday, you can walk in and pick your spot in the house with no problem, and the food and drinks come quickly.
I drink a lot, I go out to eat a lot, and for me, the staff, service and quality at Alu are as high as any of my other favorite haunts in the city.
Great super sneak find.
Used a coupon on an exploratory date night with my lovely wife. She had heard good things from co-workers who are foodies. Candidly, I was skeptical. From the moment I entered the killer front door, it was obvious someone with fantastic touch was behind this joint. The downstairs is loungy, sofa pits for groups or to get to know others, very nice! We chose to eat upstairs and grabbed the bar because we were hungry and it was the first available.
Looking about, the lighting was well done. The staff was very engaging and knowledgeable. Colin, our barkeep, made me a perfect Manhattan (my drink) and and impeccably creative signature cocktail. I'm a former bartender, and very picky. While Colin was busy, the bar back, Joey, dialed in our menu choices. As a fellow "pescatarian" he made great suggestions from the menu. Now, the food...
Jesus people, this stuff is the some of the best I've had in this food focused town! We started with a beet salad with smoked trout and were knocked out. The next dish included homemade papadam-like crackers as a base for a kumquat chutney, a tamarind sauce and smoked salmon. Joey expertly and tactfully suggested combining all of the flavors at once on the crackers (nice call Joey) and that made it something that I will be ruminating over in my mental palate for a long time! The special pizza for the night in most restaurants (including the winners of the Best Of Portland for the past several years) would have been the highlight of the evening, was unusual and tasty, but couldn't hold a candle to the other dishes. Chef Sean, is a rising star on the Portland scene. Catch him, and this unknown gem now before you have to wait an hour to get in!!!
Distasteful, rude arrogance filled evening.
We went on a recommendation from a person who attended Alu's opening night. My first visit was pleasant, and I wanted to return. We had friends visiting from out of town, thinking about relocating to Portland, so we took them to Alu...told them it was very representative of Portland.
We were horrified! Upon arrival, we were met by a Nazi-type hostess at the door that told us we could stand right there (in front of an opening door) for a good 20 minutes. Then, landing at the bar upstairs we were treated so rudely we almost walked out, until I think one of the owners asked if he could help. Help! He did indeed set us at an outside table while taking gabs at our "impatience."
We ordered a glass of wine. With a condescending tone, he returned to ask us if we liked old world, earthy wines...he wasn't sure we'd like this.
The rude night ended with our payment of cash to the bartender because of our inability to find someone to pay. We left through the downtstairs entrance to show our friends the setting and try to save a disturbed visit. When we got to our car, that same man ran to our window, knocked and asked if we had paid! UNBELIEVABLE!
Other reviews have said RUDE.....rude is an understatement for the treatment we received.
We'll never return. Visit Trebol, Toro Bravo...somewhere were customers matter.
New Ownership is AWESOME!! Great food, great service, no pr.
I have gone to ALU several times loved the food, top chef, great atmosphere but one of the times that I went I was unimpressed by one of the "owners" apparently this owner has been axed and there is a sole owner now that has done an amazing job with the place.
The last time I went there I really enjoyed myself. Food was top notch, wine was really good and not super expensive, and the atmosphere was great! The service was excellent! This is one of my favorite spots in Portland. They are creative and love a challenge at the bar. I asked the bartender to make me something interesting and was very impressed! They have a nice downstairs area, that is quaint and romantic and the upstairs is a hopping. Good spot for a date or just a meet up.
Excellent date. The service was attentive (VERY) and prompt. The decor is tasteful and trendy, oddly matched with the music (Patsy Cline, J. Cash), but it works. The food was excellent and priced appropriately, but the outline of the menu somewhat confusing. It was defiantly creative, we were unsure of what was an entree or appetizer (portion wise). The staff were very helpful in answering questions, and non threatening in doing so (in other words we didn't feel like morons, even if we appeared to be so). It is a romantic date spot and comfortable as well. We will certainly return, whether they want us to or not. :)
I'm in love. We had the most fantastic time at Alu. My friends had told me about it and I finally stopped in to have a drink with them this weekend. Hip, hip, hip. Loved the live music and the ambience. I read some of the reviews before writing my own and I have to say the service I received was great!! They were busy and our server was on the move the whole time, refilling our waters, asking for orders before our drinks were empty, it was nice. I'll be back..........I'm so glad I finally went :)
Whoa!!. I had a great time at Alu with friends last week. Cozy space, romantic and fun. I'd love to see it stick around the neighborhood! Our server was delightful and bubbly and the bubbly we drank was even more impressive. Great wine list.
Wonderful everything!. We went to Alu last weekend; it was busy and I was blown away by the complete package, which was actually made possible by our server. She was outstanding. Knowledgeable, friendly, helpful, answered all our questions, made us feel at home, recommended the perfect pairings, on-it! The bartender came over at one point to change our candle, and charmed us with his wit and friendliness. My husband and I go out at least twice a week, and it is rare to find such quality: from the ambiance to the food/drink, and especially the service. I will definitely be back. I highly recommend Alu.
worst ever and RUDE. Worst experience ever and what a rude staff.. with all the great restaurants in town I would not recommend this place. Ridiculous staff and I'd be surprised if this place lasts though the year... Great space but it they really need to realize this is Portland...not NY!
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