Måurice: Creative French and Scandinavian Influence in Portland
I have followed Måurice on social media for quite some time now; it’s a restaurant inspired by Scandinavian and French influences, how could I not? It opened after I moved away from Portland, but as I have watched the general Scandinavian food trend grow globally, it has been interesting to keep an eye on the Portland scene to see how it’s translating that in its own way. For example, there’s Aquavit Week (the genius of my friend Jacob Grier), which I think is something that we can all get behind.
Of course when it comes to food, in the Internet age, there are a lot of things that are forced. Let’s be honest, we’ve all carefully positioned a fork while taking a food photo. But I think that the tendency to make things look good can often detract from simply making something good full stop. We are a society seduced far more by looks than we are taste. Just look at how many people buy perfectly round, bright red tomatoes out of season even though they are mealy and bland.
From afar of course, Måurice looked perfect, so I was excited to see what it would be like in person. Would it be forced or would it in fact be the real thing?
I’ll put it simply: It was wonderful.
I often find that anything themed “French” is done horribly so, pushing iconic cliches as far as they can go. But owner Kristen Murray manages to do so in a way that’s neither cliche nor contrived. In fact the lovely thing about Maurice is that it’s absolutely authentic; you feel as if you have been pulled in Murray’s personal cocoon, an enticing mix of Scandinavian and French attributes, and that everything in the restaurant, be it on the menu or on the walls, has been put there with love and intent.
Why Scandinavian and French? Because Murray is of Norwegian heritage with a love of French food and culture. It made sense to pair the two together. There are simple Scandinavian and French touches throughout the restaurant. Aluminum tartlets – commonly used to make Swedish mandelmusslor (almond tartlets) for Christmas – are strung up as a garland. There’s an entire board devoted to “fika,” listing off the day’s choices of pastries and sweets, and there’s plenty of petillant on the menu.
The food is unique; a surprise even with interesting combinations like black pepper cheesecake, a savory clafoutis made with polenta, and smørrebrød with ricotta, beet and strawberry. And then of course the little details, the things that make the extra difference, like the “save room for dessert” card, handwritten and stuck under your plate when served.
This is what food spaces should feel like; not like they are done to fit into a trend, but that they are made simply out of love. Also, they wear stripes, and that’s a policy I can definitely get behind.
Good, simple ingredients done well, and with a little fun while doing it. There’s nothing better.
921 SW Oak Street
Portland, Oregon, 97205
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