A former Vitaly Paley space emptied out by the pandemic finally has a new occupant that promises to whisk diners away to a cozy French street corner restaurant circa 1920.
Bistro Alder has now opened its doors inside Dossier Hotel at 750 SW Alder St. The ground-floor bar and eatery used to house Rosa Rosa, Vitaly’s ode to the cuisine of the Ottoman and Roman empires that quietly closed following the initial pandemic lockdown in 2020.
While the past two years have been a struggle for downtown hotels in general, getting and then keeping a restaurant on site seems like a downright impossible task for some.
But Bistro Alder has a longtime Portland industry veteran at the helm, which could encourage even more diners to return to the central city. Executive chef Aaron Dionne held the role of sous chef at another downtown spot, Higgins, during Greg Higgins’ James Beard Award-winning year. He also served as chef de cuisine at Carafe and spent time in the kitchens of other Portland institutions, like the Produce Row and Cadillac cafes.
Bistro Alder’s approach is a classic “French dishes and techniques meet Pacific Northwest-sourced ingredients.” That means you can expect everything from steak frites to mussels marinieres to croque monsieur and madame made with food from purveyors like Sauvie Island Growers, Pat-n-Tam’s Beef, and Taylor Shellfish Farms.
“The culinary community of Portland is driven by a respect for the land, farmers and producers,” Dionne stated in a press release. “At Bistro Alder, I’m extremely happy to be able to blend timeless French techniques with the very best Pacific Northwest ingredients, serving dishes that are rooted in tradition but fresh and innovative, as well.”
The drink menu, naturally, focuses on wine from French vineyards. However, Bistro Alder also offers regional draft beer and seasonally changing cocktails that are described as Portland takes on French classics.
To flesh out the French dining theme, the restaurant’s décor was updated but it thankfully didn’t touch the beautifully hypnotic black-and-white diamond tiled floor. In fact, the pattern only seems to enhance the 1920s Parisian bistro aesthetic, complete with heavy, gilded-frame mirrors and delicate chandeliers. There’s even a reproduction of the iconic pointillist painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte—the one with many women with large bustles and umbrellas in a park.
“We’re very excited to introduce Bistro Alder to both Dossier’s guests and the local Portland community,” adds Patrick Warner, director of food and beverage. “Portland has long been recognized as one of the nation’s great food cities, and we believe our new restaurant is a worthy addition to the destination’s culinary scene, thanks to Chef Aaron’s imaginative menu of locally influenced cuisine and a relaxed social atmosphere.”
Bistro Alder is now open for dinner 5-9 pm Tuesday and Thursday and 5-10 pm Friday through Saturday. Breakfast service will be added later this year.