True to its watery name, Headwaters at the Heathman Hotel in Portland, Oregon, is mostly about seafood. Fresh seafood. Raw seafood. Smoked, kippered and cured, dressed up or pared down. Finned and un-finned, the fish, scallops, crab, oysters, caviar, and more at Headwaters can make your tongue want to take you for a swim in the briny blue.
Location: 1001 SW Broadway, Downtown Portland, Oregon, at the Heathman Hotel
Menu: Headwaters serves breakfast, lunch, happy hour, and dinner. There’s also a weekend brunch and a Sunday “Russian Tea Experience.” Any day after 11 am, you can eat at the Sea Bar, feasting on fresh-shucked oysters, ceviche, smoked mussel shooters, octopus carpaccio, sturgeon pastrami, and similar items.
The ocean-heavy menu also includes items for the carnivore, including braised pork shank, a steak of the day, rotisserie half chicken or a Headwaters Burger, piled up with greens, cheddar, onion, smoked tomato aioli, and pickles.
But it’s the seafood you really come to Headwaters for, and in my opinion, that’s what you should order.
Thoughts: Seafood is my personal go-to extravagance when I want to dine well, and the dinner I enjoyed recently at Headwaters may be the best overall seafood meal I’ve ever eaten. The restaurant was opened in November 2016, by chef-owner Vitaly Paley, considered by many to be the Dean of Portland chefs. He is a James Beard Foundation Best Chef Pacific Northwest winner, and you might have seen him as the victor on an episode of Iron Chef America. With Executive Chef Ken Norris, he’s crafted a French-inspired, chef-centric menu that connects Portland with the freshness of its nearby farm and coast community.
The room is large, with high pressed-tin ceilings, large windows street-side, and massive square stone pillars. The long open kitchen lets you watch the chefs at work. Oak floors and lime-green banquettes, wooden tables and floral displays are welcoming without being ostentatious.
I began with one of the house cocktails on tap. The Boulevardier is a blend of Wild Turkey rye, Campari and sweet vermouth on a rock. Smooth, a touch sweet, with a nice bitterness beneath, it went down easy.
I tried several items on the menu. While some were better than others, none were a dish I’d never order again.
Diver Scallops from the Sea Bar – Raw scallops sliced thin were drizzled with truffle vinaigrette then topped with shaved foie gras. The scallops were perfectly fresh and delicate, with the melt-in-your-mouth texture of butter. The funky-musty truffle and the richness of the foie were the perfect counter point. I knew from the first bite that this was high in the running for the most delicious thing I’d ever put in my mouth. Please order this.
Crab Salad with Apple and Ginger – This was a daily special. A ball of crab salad was encased in thin cut raw tuna and set in a sauce of apple and ginger with marigold petals. It was both beautiful and delicious, though I would have liked a bit more ginger in the mix.
Grilled Octopus – This is one of Chef Norris’ star dishes, served with cured ham sausage and poblano cream over crispy potato. I’ll admit it was my first time eating octopus; it won’t be my last. Charred to perfection, it was enhanced just enough with the bite of the poblanos and the smoothness of the cream.
Caramelized Brussel Sprouts with Lardons – A large order, good for sharing, these were delicious but perhaps not as stand-out special as the other dishes.
Mascarpone Cheesecake – The idea of dessert after this feast was far-fetched, but when I saw this on the menu, I had to try it. It comes with a blood orange sauce drizzled and puddled. Rich, smooth, tart, sweet, the combination of flavors was worth the tightness at my waistband.
Read more reviews here.
Price Range: Moderate to high, reasonable for the quality. Sea Bar items mostly run $6-12 with oysters going up to $40 a dozen. Main dishes, $11-35 (more for steak), vegetables and sides, $6-15. Desserts $8-10.
Hours and Reservations: Located right next to the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Headwaters is a popular pre-theater spot. Reservations are recommended (phone or online). Open 6:30 am-11 pm Monday-Thursday, 6:30 am-midnight Friday, 8 am-midnight Saturday,
8 am-11 pm Sunday.
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Guest author bio: Donna Meyer is a freelance travel writer and travel blogger at Nomad Women. She’s also an Instagram junkie. When not traveling–and eating anything and everything–she can be found at home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
Disclosure: The author received a complimentary meal courtesy of Travel Portland. This post contains affiliate links. Clicking through for additional information or to make a purchase may result in a small commission being paid. By doing so, you help support this site and its authors, and we thank you.