Fine dining returns to downtown Aberdeen

When COVID-19 punched Grays Harbor County in the mouth more than two years ago, and then kept on inflicting punishment, the impact was devastating for bars and restaurants in the region.

But the resilience of that sector of the economy proved stout and it has since bounced back, as evidenced by the scores of patrons who have come back to support their favorite watering holes and eateries.

However, something was missing amid that striking comeback. At least in downtown Aberdeen. Well, that void was filled earlier this year when the upscale restaurant Rediviva reopened in the 100 block of East Wishkah Street.

The reopening of the restaurant, whose ever-changing menu is a culinary delight, brought back fine dining to a city in dire need of such an establishment.

That’s not a knock on the other restaurants that dot the landscape, but trying to find rabbit gnudi or humptulips duck, and then pairing it up with a $100-plus bottle of wine that’s worth the money was just not doable in this old fishing and logging town during the height of the pandemic.

Well, it is once again. The reopening of the restaurant caught the eye of some Daily World staffers, most notably Editor Wyatt Haupt Jr., who wondered openly one day over a pint across the street how such a restaurant would fit in downtown Aberdeen.

So he assigned staff writer Matthew N. Wells, who fancies himself a foodie, the story of the restaurant’s rebirth. Mr. Wells apparently liked what he ate and drank, so much so that he turned in a 1,200 word story that ran in the Feb. 19 edition of the newspaper. Of note, The Daily World footed the bill for Mr. Wells.

His story delved into the background of Rediviva owner and chef Andy Bickar, who grew up in Grays Harbor County, as well as what was on the menu that evening. At least what we are fairly certain Mr. Wells dined on that evening. He seemed to really enjoy the main course.

“One of the savory entrees featured was the 8-ounce Filet Mignon, which is made with Oregon natural beef that is topped with caramelized onion-marrow butter. It’s served with crushed marble potatoes, Treviso — a reddish leaf vegetable, and demi jus — a French-inspired, rich, brown sauce,” Mr. Wells wrote.

“The cow did not die for nothing. The filet — cooked medium rare — was tender and it was cooked to perfection. Bickar knew what he was doing Thursday night.”

He also appeared to fancy a particular adult beverage. Not just any old adult beverage, but Rediviva bartender James Shawyer’s take on a classic bourbon drink known in tony bar circles as an “Old Fashioned.” The drink is referred to as “I’m on Fire” at Rediviva.

“The drink is covered with a glass top, of sorts, while the drink gets smoked. The drink — made with Redwood Empire “Lost Monarch” Bourbon, was sweet, a little tangy, followed by a little spice from the Hellfire Habenero Shrub — is one that deserves small sips so it can be enjoyed slowly,” Mr. Wells wrote.

Yes, he clearly enjoyed the drink. We are pleased Mr. Wells had such a fine dining experience at Rediviva that evening, and wish Bickar and his staff the best as they move forward in these unprecedented times. Welcome back!