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Smokehouse Tavern Now Open; Biwa Spins off Noraneko Ramen-ya

Welcome to CascadiaWire, a weekly collection of restaurant news from up-and-down the Pacific Northwest corridor.

Dina Avila/EPDX

DOWNTOWN Steve Jones has made it his life's mission to bring perfectly paired cheese and libations to the masses, first with Cheese Bar and now with Chizu, his 18-seat downtown jewel box where cheese plates get the sushi bar treatment. Opening on Monday, March 16, it offers 30 super-special cheeses lined up behind glass along the 11-seat bar. Compose your own cheese plate from a sushi-style score card. Or order omakase and let the experts surprise you. The space is too small for taps, but Jones is a pairing expert and will have a tight selection of carefully selected beer, wine, cider, and sake by the bottle and glass.

SOUTHEAST Chef BJ Smith has officially opened the doors to Smokehouse Tavern, a more deluxe version of his original Smokehouse 21 barbecue joint on the west side. The narrow space was designed by fashion designer and Project Runway champ Michelle Lesniak (who is also Smith's fiancee). And the new outpost offers the same menu favorites but with a few bonuses that come from having a bigger kitchen. Expect nose-to-tail specials, weekend brunch, and the full lunch/dinner menu is served until midnight daily.

CENTRAL EASTSIDE Noraneko, the 30-seat, ramen shop spinoff from Biwa's Gabe Rosen and Kina Voelz will open this Sunday, March 15. Like a traditional Japanese ramen-ya, the menu is small and tightly focused on just a few varieties of ramen swimming with noodles from cult-favorite Sun Noodle. The drink menu is wider ranging, with fresh-pressed juices, house-made sodas, and more than a dozen classic cocktails. Come April, they'll add late-night hours, staying open until 2 a.m. daily.