Work on Pullman Wine Bar is now complete. Below is a terrific story about what we’re doing, along with photos of the bar, bottle selection, and the private dining wine cave. Thank you @eaterpdx. Read this piece at PDX Eater.
Pullman Wine Bar & Merchant, a wine bar and bottle shop from prolific restaurateur David Machado, will have a 135-bottle list, beef empanadas, and the opportunity to taste wines from all over the world
by Brooke Jackson-Glidden
published by PDX Eater on Jul 22, 2019, 2:56pm PDT
Photography by Dina Avila
Portland’s not done with its wine bar boom: a sleek, new wine bar, bottle shop, and private dining space is coming to the Lloyd District on July 29, pouring a wild range of build-your-own and curated tasting flights.
Pullman Wine Bar & Merchant is the latest from prolific Portland restaurateur David Machado, a hospitality big-name with restaurants like Nel Centro downtown and Altabira in the Hotel Eastlund. But he’s not alone: Machado has pulled in David Holstrom, an award-winning wine consultant, to handle the wine list and flights.
Holstrom is hesitant to label his wine list in any way — it’s not a natural or biodynamic bar, (though he’s not biased against those wines) nor is it exclusively local, though the list prominently features wines from the Northwest. “Trying to distinguish yourself in the wine business these days is really difficult. Every grocery store has a wine section,” Holstrom says. “If you look at all the different fads — natural, biodynamic — we’ve seen it all. I just look for wines with integrity.”
If there’s a defining characteristic of Pullman Wine Bar & Merchant, it’s the variety. The 135 wines range from household names like Chateau St. Michelle to South African chardonnays rarely seen on Portland shelves. “We don’t really know yet who’s coming in,” Holstrom says. “I don’t want to be too eclectic, but I don’t want to be commercial either… Good wine is good wine, large or small.” 50 percent of the list pulls from Oregon and Washington, while the rest includes wines from all over the world, including Mendoza, Portugal, and of course, France. “If someone wants to come in and spend $1,000, we’ll have some DRC (Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, one of the world’s most coveted and expensive Burgundian vineyards),” Holstrom says.
Without getting unbearably nerdy, Pullman is stacked with wine preservation systems that uses argon to safely preserve wines. That means visitors can taste two, four, and six-ounce tastes of most bottles in the shop, including those super high-end bottles rarely spotted on by-the-glass lists. “You could get a two-ounce pour of a $100 Barolo and we wouldn’t look at you twice,” Machado says. For those seeking higher quantities, most wines are available by the glass, bottle, and case.
As for food, Machado wants to keep the menu pretty tight — wine-friendly snacks, but nothing specifically designed to match particular wines. In true Pacific Northwest fashion, the bar will serve local salmon rillettes with baguette made next door at Machado’s bakery, Citizen Baker. Charcuterie includes a pork-pistachio terrine and potted chicken liver mousse, with more vegetarian-friendly dishes like fava bean spread, stuffed mushrooms with blue cheese, and an heirloom tomato salad with burrata available as well. Heartier fare includes veal and mushroom meatballs with parsnip puree and a beef empanada inspired by Machado’s trips to Argentina.
Inside the space
Pullman Wine Bar & Merchant sits on the other side of Hotel Eastlund’s parking lot, stretching along the Trimet MAX lines on NE Holladay. Machado wasn’t totally sold on the location at first. “It wasn’t protected or diversified enough,” he says. But after years of contemplation, the booming development from the convention and Moda centers piqued his interest. “With the train running, it almost feels like downtown Bordeaux, and it’s really close to a whole lot of people.”
On a recent trip to Paris, Machado and Holstrom stumbled upon a wine shop where visitors picked out a bottle of wine, brought it to the counter, ordered food, and ate and drank right there. The two wanted to recreate a similar place in Portland where guests could taste wines, buy bottles, and have some snacks.
The linear space, designed by Holst Architecture, is sleek and stunning: The entryway opens onto built-in shelves of wine, where visitors can pick out a bottle to take home or drink in the shop. Walking deeper in, the cool stone and steel gives the space a futuristic wine cave feel, with a line of those argon-gas wine preservers along the lefthand wall. A marble-like stone bar serves as a tasting bar and check-out counter, where diners can order a bite, taste some chardonnay, or order a case of cabernet. Smaller tables along the window allow for more room for snacking and imbibing.
Stepping deeper still, the wine-cave vibes get even more apparent with a private 24-seat dining room sporting a vaulted sheetrock ceiling and a rug-lined floor; private dinners here will draw from other Machado restaurant menus.
Down the line, Pullman may get into the wine club game, or even assist in shipping. But for now, Machado and Holstrom are keeping things simple, letting the wine — large and small — speak for itself. Pullman Wine Bar & Merchant will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 401 NE Holladay Street.