You would be happy too if you had a nine-foot-long wood-fired grill to cook with. Photo via Crush.

Rumors of Jason Wilson’s new project in Hotel Max have been going around for a while. And so it felt a little bit like Christmas when Wilson rang with some long-awaited details. 

The Crush chef and James Beard Award winner is indeed opening a new restaurant in the hotel at Seventh and Stewart. It’s called The Miller’s Guild, and Wilson is absolutely geeking out about the custom-made 9-foot-long Infierno wood-fired grill that will be the centerpiece of both the room and his menu. “Six chefs will have this grill,” says Wilson. “I’m number five.” He’s in the good company of chefs like Dan Barber of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and Tom Colicchio, who is installing one in his new project at the MGM Grand. 

The name is inspired by the hotel’s past as the Vance Lumber Company Hotel, a circa 1925 structure built to house company workers on their way to lumber harvests up north. Wilson was excited about the idea of carrying the idea of wood and milling and craft and artistry through the menu, and wood-fired cooking seemed the natural way to express that. 

The Miller’s Guild will be a den of butchery, nose-to-tail cooking, and plenty of breakfast-hour baked goods, as well as later-in-the-day pastries like clafoutis and tarts. Wilson loves the flavor that the wood imparts, but “It’s almost this visceral thing to have this big, menacing fire in the middle of the dining room,” he says.  Especially when that fire is preparing your leg of lamb, steak, or cauliflower. As the name implies, the Miller’s Guild will be more of a casual drop-in destination than Crush. 

Jake Kossef, who helped open Crush nearly nine years ago, recently returned as wine and beverage director and will be GM and partner at the Miller’s Guild, an acquisition Wilson heartily terms “a fricking field goal.” Kossef will oversee the wine here, plus an extensive craft cocktail program that focuses on spirites barrel-aged in house, another nod to artisans' guilds and the various powers of wood. 

Being located in a hotel (specifically the former Red Fin space) means the Miller's Guild will be open 365 days a year, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch—you name it. Wilson will also be reimagining the room service for the Hotel Max, though that’s still in the works. He's also planning some changes at Crush, but he says that’s a conversation for a later date.

Wilson hopes to open the Miller’s Guild in November, around Thanksgiving, but per usual such timelines are subject to a million different factors.

Tomorrow the Oregonian is running a piece about Wilson’s partnership with Portland-run ChefStable; founder Kurt Huffman is a partner in Miller's Guild. Check out the article for more details

UPDATED: Wow, that's a great piece. The Oregonian describes the Miller's Guild as a modenr steakhouse: "Think Morton’s or El Gaucho, only with a chef of Wilson’s caliber in the kitchen."


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