Agricole Hospitality is making some changes to its Montrose property Night Heron. Effective immediately, the establishment is moving away from its previous incarnation as a bar-restaurant hybrid into more of a European-inspired neighborhood bistro.
“As we’re about a year-and-a-half into this business, we feel like this neighborhood and our customer base, and what we do well at is more of a restaurant,” Agricole co-owner Ryan Pera tells CultureMap. “I think the customers who come in were seeking that dinner and good beverage, and we want to give it to them.”
Toward that end, Pera has promoted Jonathan Pittman to be the restaurant’s new executive chef. Pittman, a veteran cook whose resume includes Chez Nous, Pondicheri, and six years at The Pass & Provisions, has been tasked with taking the lessons he learned during a year working at Coltivare and applying them to Night Heron.
“We saw a good opportunity to move the talent of Jonathan over here,” Pera says. “He’s ambitious and wants people to taste his food for the first time. We thought it was a good pairing there.”
Working within the limitations of what Pera describes as the restaurant’s “tiny, tiny kitchen” isn’t easy, but Pittman has the flexibility to add limited-run dishes that utilize the best of whatever’s fresh and seasonal. At the same time, Night Heron now has a pasta machine, which means Coltivare’s signature black pepper spaghetti, previously only available on Wednesday nights, has been added to the menu permanently. Other additions include freshly based focaccia, a sirloin steak (sourced from 44 Farms) with braised radicchio and tomato confit, chicken saltimbocca, and seafood linguini with mussels and shrimp.
“To do a la minute food and still have a varied menu is not always an easy task in this space,” Pera says. “For a young chef, I think that’s part of the fun. I did that at 17. It’s a tinier kitchen, but you can buy one case of one thing, use it up, and change the menu again. ... That’s where we want to go with this.”
At the same time, Night Heron is keeping some of the dishes that its existing customers love, including the chicken frites, chili mussels, and the smoked Gouda burger. Brunch now includes a little of old and new, with staples like avocado toast and the honey chicken biscuit being joined by Italian-inspired dishes such as a frittata and stuffed conchiglie pasta.
Pera has more changes in mind over the next six months. He wants Night Heron to serve lunch six days a week. From a decor standpoint, the lounge-style couches will be replaced with more restaurant tables, and a new window on the Mandell side will open up the space to the street.
Cocktails will remain a core part of the beverage offerings, but general manager Danny Kirgan has tweaked the wine list a bit to focus on varietals that diners are likely familiar with. He cites a Sangiovese Rose from the Willamette Valley — an Italian-style wine from a domestic producer — as one example of the new approach.
“It’s not cheap wine,” Kirgan says. “It’s wine that punches above its weight for the price.”
As for Pittman, he has a clear vision of what kind of restaurant he wants Night Heron to be. After all, before he worked for Pera, he ate at Coltivare regularly.
“Ambiance, food, and service are great, and I never felt like I spent a ton of money, but I’d always order more than I [intended to] because I just wanted to try more,” he says. “Friendly, great, honest food, just delicious.”