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Mermosa PDX celebrates a ‘siren’ ancestor, freedom, and the flavors of Haiti, France, and the American South

The new restaurant in the former Southland Whiskey Kitchen space on Northwest 23rd Avenue serves brunch and dinner with a fusion of flavors inspired by a 19th-century family love story.

People gathered in a restaurant with a wood paneled ceiling, blue accents, white tables, and plants lined up in a row.

Mermosa PDX blends an aesthetic rich in nautical tones with gold accents and plants.

Photo by Cambrie Juarez, PDXtoday

A new restaurant on Portland’s popular Northwest 23rd Avenue has a story that stretches back to the late 1700s when a woman named Celestine fell in love with a French gardener in Haiti.

Celestine and Philippe Noisette married and moved to Charleston, where Philippe introduced a new type of rose: the Noisette. Upon Philippe’s death, the executor of his will was instructed to sell all of Philippe’s possessions with the profits given to Celestine. The funds, coupled with Celestine’s efforts to establish a legal paper trail, blazed a path to freedom for her and her seven children.

Celestine, fondly referred to as a “siren” by her descendent, Desiree Noisette, is the inspiration behind Mermosa PDX. Founded by Desiree in — somewhat ironically — the City of Roses, Mermosa fully opened to the public last week.

Mermosa’s brunch and dinner menus are bursting with the flavors of Haiti, France, and the Lowcountry, from cornbread waffles with blackberry compote to smoked fish pâté. Epis, the staple seasoning of the Caribbean nation, has a pronounced place in many dishes. Customers will also find Mermosa’s own sparkling wine and cocktails made with the brand’s canned bubbles.

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