For the past couple of weeks my heart and soul has been occupied with, what I consider, one of the more important photography projects thus far in my career. Don’t get me wrong. Every project I work on gets everything, and I mean everything that I have to give. Blood, sweat and tears. The difference is this: Brasserie Montmartre is an iconic Portland restaurant. A legendary location with Portland’s seedy and sooty history lingering in the walls.
It originally opened in 1978, a time when Portland was deeply exploring what we’ll just call its ‘noir’ side. Those of you who have only visited Portland, in say, the past 20 years have never experienced what I consider to be the bones of pdx. Neither have I. But I’ve been here and wandered our streets long enough to realize the real Portland is most decidedly not the Pearl. Let’s just say, Portland is, and always has been, a port town. Get my drift? Brasserie Montmartre was the sort of place you rounded out the night at, say, 4 AM with Opera Singers and sailors.
Fast forward 33 years and you’ll find Brasserie Montmartre reopening under new ownership. When I told Adam Melissa Chureau, marketing extraordinaire, nicest woman ever and wife of owner Pascal Chureau, emailed me and asked if I wanted to document the space, he looked over his glasses at me and said, “you do realize what a big deal this is”. Adam is a native Portlander, so yeah, now I do.
I wish I could tell you what the originally Brasserie looked like, but I just don’t know. It’s my understanding that Pascal brightened up the space. Removed the outside awnings to let in more light, painted the walls a beautiful shade of creamy white, added booths, but wisely maintained the elements that made Brasserie a landmark. My favorite is the giant chandelier hovering over the dining space.
Now, I would LOVE to show you the shots I made for Melissa and Pascal, but those are reserved for their website which is still in the works. However, if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, the minute their new site is live I will post an announcement and you better check it out.
In the meantime, here are a few of my post-shoot nibbles. By the way, and I can’t believe I’m waiting until now to say it, the food is AMAZING. French decadent meets Northwest farmer’s market fresh in the most balanced and delicious way possible. Pascal and his head chef Michael know exactly what they are doing. Escargot with morel mushrooms, frog legs, rabbit boudin, halibut, mussels, veal pâté wrapped in bacon. I’m salivating while writing this. Happy hour is more than affordable, service is beyond impeccable, and soon they’ll be opening for lunch. So go.
Go and sit at the bar and chat with the moustached bartender, have an absinthe, nibble on some oysters, listen to some gypsy jazz and if you squint your eyes just a little bit, at least for a moment, you’ll be in Paris.