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[PDX] 25 for $25 at Caprial's...

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[PDX] 25 for $25 at Caprial's...

Nick | Apr 30, 2003 12:46 AM

When leaving, the hostess mentioned that because of the success of the prix fixe menu there they're going to try something similar even after 25 for $25 is gone. Look for it. Hopefully they'll put something on their website.

My wife had the 25 for $25. I didn't like the entree choices, except the one she wanted, so I ordered off the normal menu.

She started with the bruschetta. It was quite tasty. The beans were good and the tomatoes were good. It was quite large, really, with a lot of tasty olives additionally served. It had a bit of tang to it, maybe some balsamic in the bean puree or drizzled over the tomato. Tasty.

The dinner entrees come with the house salad, so that's what I had. For a dinner salad it was actually quite good. Nothing too fancy, but a tasty dressing with a good assortment of greens, and the fennel added a nice dimension as well.

My wife had the chicken breast. They actually served a leg and thigh, which is probably better with the compote, since the compote is tangy and the dark meat's richnessw would balance that better, but my wife prefers white meat and hates to have to clean meat off the bones (she actually handed the plate to me and I cut the meat off and discarded the bones -- that way it's less visible as animal). They probably should have mentioned that. But it was tasty and the sauce was good. The pinot noir matched excellently with the rhubarb. The potatoes were quite good, too; my wife really loved them. There was a decent amount of food. I don't think they skimped on portion sizes for the 25 for $25, unlike Paley's.

I had the duck from their normal menu (not the same as the one on the website, but similar). The grilled breast was cooked just under medium and rested on the thigh/leg piece which was smothered in sauce. Underneath was a modest portion of fried rice. On top of everything were some fried won-ton strips. The fried rice was decent. It used nice accents with tasty ham, eg. The sauce was excellent. It was as deep and rich as a good mole. And as spicy probably. Not gang panang hot like you'd get at a Thai place, but good, consistent heat. That was offset by its richness and hearty sweetness. Not a bright sweetness, though there was a hint of that, but rather a sweetness like a bbq sauce after it's roasted on the meat for a while, though I got the impression this one hadn't. And they did call it an Asian bbq sauce. Squirted around the plate and over the sauce in some parts was a mustard and it did a great job of cutting the richness and sweetness of the bbq sauce. Great combination. I very much enjoyed this dish -- and normally I'm not keen on Asian dishes besides Thai curries.

For dessert, my wife and I swapped choices. What she wanted, the lemon sour cream cheesecake wasn't an option on the 25 for $25. But it was okay because I wanted the chocolate turtle torte. The cheesecake was very creamy and light with a graham cracker crust. I had recently read an article in Cook's Illustrated where they suggest using something other than graham cracker for lemon cheesecake (I believe they choose animal crackers) and I can see why. It overwhelms the flavor and the two work against each other. But that's a minor quibble. My wife loved it, although she thought there needed to be more of the huckleberry sauce which was just dropped around the plate. I thought it could use more zest as the sour cream flavor was stronger than the lemon flavor.

I loved the turtle torte, though. I'm a caramel nut, but also like chocolate mousse now and then. I also enjoy nuts with both of these items. This had a layer of nuts and caramel on the bottom, followed by a layer of mousse and then a chocolate icing-like exterior. It was served with caramel and chocolate sauces. Mmm, mmm. Very good. Very balanced. Lots of texture combinations. Very good.

Overall it was a very good meal. The place is nice with couch seating and chair seating. The tables by the window have Barnes and Noble style comfy seats (looked like you'd need to get reservations way in advance for those). The bathrooms were cool with nice faucets and interesting tiles, good soap, and a nice potpourri to make it smell good. Why doesn't anyone use cloth towels in Portland, though? Wouldn't they like to save trees and provide better service? It looked like they had a "den" in the back that was filled but could be probably used as a private dining room as well.

The prices on the normal menu are spendy, but the 25 for $25 gave excellent portions. Still, I'd say it's up there with the best in town and the prices aren't any higher than Bluehour, Paley's, Wildwood, and the like.

****

Appetizer:

Soup of the Evening: Salmon chowder

Bruschetta: layers of saffron cannellinni bean puree, caramelized fennel, tomato confit and chevre, finished with grilled radicchio

House Salad: Mixed greens with fennel and orange-sesame dressing

Entree:

Pasta: Linguica, prawns, olives, and fennel tossed with a tomato saffron suace and torchio pasta

Oregon Sea Bass: pan-roasted and served with onion chutney, curry Israeli couscous and Harrissa oil

Chicken Breast: braised in pinot noir and herbs, plated with scallion mashed potatoes, rhubarb compote and jus

Dessert:

Rhubarb creme brulee
Chocolate turtle torte
Chocolate brownie sundae

Link: http://www.caprial.com/pages/bistro/d...

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