Pastry chef and entrepreneur Cheryl Wakerhauser (a.k.a. Pix), is known for combining bold, delicious flavors and textures into small, adorable packages. Be it a dessert, macarons, or a pintxo, after tasting these, “you’re gonna wanna dance” as one satisfied patron expressed. After a short-lived career studying to be an astronaut, in 2000 Cheryl headed to Southern France to train at the pâtisserie of MOF Philippe Urraca (master judge in the Documentary Kings of Pastry.) The next year Cheryl moved to Portland and set up shop at the Portland Farmers market. Portland’s first Pâtisserie / Brasserie known as Pix opened December 2002, passing on the breakfast pastries and focusing on sophisticated desserts paired with Belgian Beers all served until 2AM. A second location in 2005 was opened on what was then the lonely, hard pressed avenue of North Williams.
Cheryl travels often to France and Spain to better understand the atmosphere, culture, flavors and techniques associated with French pastry, Spanish tapas and the tasty beverages they drink with them. These aspects are then recreated here in Portland with as much authenticity and quality as possible. Her other love? Champagne. Some women buy shoes, Cheryl buys Champagne. Her collection at Pix has grown to over 250 bottles, including vintage and large format, with a focus on small grower producers. Her goal is to make quality wine accessible and affordable and, most importantly, provide a fun atmosphere to drink it in.
After a successful 10 years, in August 2012 Pix moved to its new digs, closing the original two Pix’s much to the dismay of the neighbors. The 3000 square foot building is centrally located on E. Burnside, complete with a 2000+ bottle cellar, an outdoor courtyard for future events and a pétanque court. Upon entering your eyes are fixated on 18 flavors of colorful macarons in the glowing pastry case. The most substantial addition is Bar Vivant – a proper Spanish tapas bar where the Txakoli is poured high and the napkins hit the floor. The Tapas are a perfect accompaniment to the 450 bottles of wine on offer and for a predinner appetizer with a glass of sherry or late night snack of churros and chocolate. Bar Vivant tapas bar is standup and “order at the bar” while following the red flocked wall paper to the other side of the oval bar (referred to as the Pyrenees) you find Pix. The Pix side offers table service and a selection of cocktails that you can sip while sitting at the bar counting the number of Champagne plaques embedded in the top. Or, order a bottle of Chartogne – Taillet and add the bottle to the wall of Champagne. Both Bar Vivant and Pix are open 2PM to 2AM. (2PM - Midnight Sun - Thurs in Winter hours.)
The Offerings – Tasty Food
Pix specializes in French desserts prepared with high quality ingredients, precision and careful thought. Each dessert is designed to offer an array of complementary flavors and textures in every bite and is artfully prepared individually, never sliced, resulting in quality taste and presentation on the plate. There are 30+ French macaron flavors to choose from in an exotic array of colors, all with nice soft centers of bold flavor. Be it the Fleur de Sel Caramel or Coconut Curry, a visit to Pix would not be complete without experiencing a macaron. The New York Times Style Magazine said, “Cheryl Wakerhauser’s macaroons trounce Per Se’s.” Pix also offers a selection of housemade chocolates, including the Chocolate Drenched Drunken Cherries that bathe in local Clear Creek Kirsch Eau de Vie for over a year. Just like the macarons, Pix ice creams come in delicious fun flavors like Szechwan Peppercorn, Tawny Port and Coconut Chocolate Sorbet. For a true Portland experience have Beer Float – 2 scoops of coffee ice cream in a pint of Pfriem Belgian Strong Dark Ale.
Bar Vivant is a proper tapas bar. A re-creation of the neighborhood watering holes in San Sebastián offering inexpensive, bite sized pintxos washed down by copious amounts of Txakoli poured from great heights. The patrons stand up as they banter about their day and their families, have another pintxo, maybe a cider, and toss their dirty napkins on the floor to keep the tables clean. Bar Vivant offers some of the traditional tapas found in these bars, including the benchmark Tortilla Española, along side a mix of French and Oregon influences. Purists will want to try the Boquerones, Croquetas de Bacalao, Patatas Bravas, Gambas al Ajillo, Champis, Pulpo, and, of course, a plate of Jamón Serrano carved to order. For authenticity created right here in Oregon, try the Pimientos de Padrón from Viridian Farms or a sampling of Spanish style chorizos from Olympic Provisions. Also locally sourced are oysters on the half shell supplied by the farm fresh oyster aficionados at by EaT: An Oyster Bar. Being that Cheryl trained in France one should not be surprised to find Foie a la Plancha topped with an Armagnac Prune, Mushroom Duxelles in house made puff pastry or a “Parisian” Montadito – ham, brie and French salted butter with a cornichon. The Foie Bon Bon couldn’t bring out the pastry chef inside Cheryl any better – a bite sized foie mousse studded with pistachios and a single pumpkin seed, candied orange piece, and pine nut, all atop a penny sized puff pastry and adorned with gold leaf. All tapas are priced between $1-$5. View a rotating selection here.
The Offerings – Tasty Beverages
Where to start? Something for everyone. Pix / Bar Vivant makes good drinking accessible by offering a large selection of quality (and in many cases hard to find) adult beverages at all price points. Champagne is a major focus, with 250+ different bottles available, including older vintages, larger formats and Coteaux Champenois (still wine from the Champagne region.) The list is heavily focused on Grower / Producers but also includes a selection of respectable négociants. Disgorgement dates are listed on the menu when available. In addition to Champagne you will also find another 60+ sparklers from France, Spain, Italy, Hungary, New Zealand, Austria, Tasmania, Germany, Portugal, Argentina and the US. Pix pours 7 sparkling wines, including 3 Champagnes, by the glass. Other still wines on the list focus on France, Spain and the Pacific Northwest. All Txakoli is poured high from an escanciador and you can ask for any bottle on the list served in a Spanish porron for a really fun time!
Next up is Sherry. An underappreciated beverage but once understood, opens a whole new world for Bon Vivants. The menu runs the gamut from Fino En Rama (very limited unfiltered sherry bottled straight from the barrel) to nutty complex 30 yr Palo Cortado and finishing with luscious sweet PX and floral Moscatel. Pix / Bar Vivant has 70+ sherries available including 11 glass pours and a flight offering tastes of multiple styles. Bottling dates are listed on the menu for finos.
While dessert wines are often an afterthought at most restaurants, not Pix. Au contraire! Pix proudly offers 17 sweeter style wines (on top of our sweet Sherry selection) to complement our desserts or as a dessert on their own. Yes, we have Port and Sauternes. Maderia and Tokaji? No surprise there. How about MacVin and Vin de Paille from the Jura, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh, Banyuals, Trockenbeerenauslese and locally made Andrew Rich Gewürztraminer Ice Wine and Elk Cove Ultima?
Pix / Bar Vivant is not just about wine. Cocktails and spirits focus on brandies such as Cognac, Armagnac, Calvados and Eau de Vie. Our French 75 uses Cognac, not gin (it is a French 75, non?) and the Omaha! Showcases Local Clear Creek Pear Eau de Vie along side Cynar, Amontillado Sherry, Peychaud's Bitters and agave syrup. A selection of classic apéros is also available – Ricard, Chartreuse VEP, Pineau de Charentes, Bonal and Bénédictine to name a few.
Beer is here. The selection of 37 beers includes four taps and formats up to 6L. Pix is a fun place! The focus is on breweries from the US and Belgium. The cider selection comes from France & Spain with EZ Orchards Méthode Champenoise from the Willamette Valley. Basque cider is poured high and properly from an escanciador.
Had too much to drink already? Pix serves Batdorf and Bronson coffee drinks and teas from local Townshend’s Tea. Come for Weekend Tea - Each Saturday and Sunday from 2PM – 4PM Pix offers a formal (but fun!) tea for all ages. The $30 all inclusive menu will include a pot of Townshends’s tea and a selection of 15 sweet and savory bite sized treats, including French macarons, soft-boiled quail eggs wrapped in prosciutto and rotating flavors of chocolat chaud. Reservations are required.