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Sounds of the season

Warm evenings bring live music to the patio at (five-O-three); wine events pick up as summer turns to fall


by: VERN UYETAKE - Kat Cogswell, accompanied by Clay Giberson, provides live music for diners on a recent summer evening at (five-O-three) in West Linn.The amphitheater-like space below West Linn's (five-0-three) restaurant provides the perfect acoustics and atmosphere for a fun evening of relaxation and listening to live music.For the past five years, West Linn’s (five-O-three) restaurant and bar has served up Pacific Northwest “new American” fare that many regulars say rivals downtown Portland’s cuisine.

Regulars and newcomers alike have also come to know the restaurant’s outdoor dining area as a prime patio music venue when the weather is warm. Each summer, a lineup heavy on jazz and blues features some of the Northwest’s better-known artists.

Portland resident George Fox is a fan.

“They’ve been beautiful evenings — warm and cooling down as the sun sets,” Fox said. “The talent is amazing. I heard Ron Steen with Steve Christofferson; they are great. They are consummate musicians. Last Friday, I took my mom and daughter there to see Linda Hornbuckle and her band.”

Because of their popularity, restaurant owner John McEwan this year expanded the seasonal concerts from one night to two nights each week.

“It's just such a nice patio out here, we take advantage of it,” said McEwan, who lives in West Linn.

Diners eating al fresco on Friday and Saturday nights this summer have savored Latin jazz by the Bobby Torres Ensemble, Boy & Bean’s Depression-era swing and jazz and Sambafeat’s blend of funk and samba. Other popular acts include the Norman Sylvester Band, which has reportedly shared billings with the likes of Buddy Guy, BB King and James Cotton, and “soul diva” Linda Hornbuckle.

The patio seats up to 60 and is often at capacity, especially when some of the bigger names in the local jazz scene are booked.

“People start calling weeks in advance and making reservations,” McEwan said.

The music begins in June and runs through mid-September. Performance times are typically 7 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, although no live music is scheduled for Labor Day weekend, Aug. 31 and Sept. 1.

While the live music draws many of the restaurant’s customers, McEwan said it really only adds to the ambiance, as food and libations remain the prime focus. The restaurant is known for its emphasis on local and sustainable ingredients and for its extensive wine selection.

The first Sunday of each month brings Wine Appreciation Day. Early in the afternoon, for $10 — or free for members of (five-O-three)’s wine club — guests can sample from a selection of 20 to 25 wines.

“Sometimes it’s a focus on Oregon or Washington, sometimes elsewhere,” said McEwan. “It’s like going to a dozen wineries, only it’s much cheaper, it’s in one place and the food is fantastic.”

Chef John Bokman’s kitchen produces all types of canapés for tasting events. It’s much fancier fare than you might expect, McEwan said — “not just cheeseballs with a toothpick in them.”

The restaurant also is now hosting special wine-focused dinners every other Thursday evening. Because winemakers are busy preparing for the fall harvest, McEwan brings in a wine distributor to provide some insight into what the gathering’s guests are sipping.

The meals are far more intimate than the restaurant’s winter winemaker’s dinners, seating just about 10 people for a three-course meal paired with a “super-high-end” selection of wine, McEwan said. Reservations are usually required for these events. “I'm trying to keep these small and intimate.”

But he stressed that intimate doesn’t mean wine novices should feel overwhelmed or intimidated.

“These are just fun and informal, and definitely informational if you want them to be,” McEwan said. “You can get real geeky, or you can just enjoy some really nice wines.”

The restaurant is located in West Linn Central Village at 21900 Willamette Drive, suite 201. For reservations, call 503-607-0960. More information is available at facebook.com/restaurant503 and restaurant503.com.



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