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Restaurants & Bars 3

PDX - Le Bouchon

Jill-O | Feb 15, 2005 01:10 PM

I was taken to Le Bouchon (NW 14th and Glisan, in the Pearl) for Valentine's Day dinner last night. V-day dinners in restaurants rarely feature them at their best but it was a very good meal and I will be back for a go at their regular menu.

The special menu last night was an assorted appetizer plate, salad, choice of: beef tenderloin w/bearnaise, quail stuffed with sausage in a port sauce, duck breast in a raspberry sauce, and, dessert. This was a special prix fixe deal for $38...a good value, I thought.

The appetizer plate had several small things on it arranged around the plate: a couple of shrimp w/aoli (or remoulade, I suppose, since it was mayo based and was French); a couple of escargots on mushroom caps; a crostone with ratatouille and a bit of cheese melted on top; a crostone with creme fraiche, smoked salmon, capers and onion; and, a slice of country-style (coarse) pate with a half cornichon. Everything was good, but the smoked salmon and the pate stood out for me as really good. I think that they make their own pate and that they smoke their own salmon...and I believe it - they were really tasty.

The salad was green leaf lettuce and radicchio...lots of radicchio. It wasn't thrilling, just some lightly dressed leaves.

We decided to order the duck and the beef and split them between us. The beef came rare as ordered and was delicious and though I am not a huge fan of bearnaise sauce (and prefer my beef unsauced to boot), this was probably the best bearnaise I have ever had - lots of lovely fresh tarragon. The duck came in a slightly sweet, very fruity berry sauce. It was done perfectly and it was delicious and there was enough sauce. The side veggies were the same on both plates and were good - carrots, green beans and potatoes in the shape of Cuisinaire rods (or short kit kat bars, if you will). The sauces were so good, they needed to be sopped up a bit with some bread, actually. ;o)

Dessert was a tuille filled with berries (straw, rasp, and blue) generously drizzled with chocolate and topped with creme brulee (like a large spoonful on top)...the tuille was held in place with a generous dollop of chocolate mousse - bonus! It was light and very good. And we supplemented it with a couple of chocolates from Verdun (my present to her, and her favorites). ;o)

If they can pull off a V-day meal like this, I am thinking that their regular menu/service is very good to excellent. Most restaurants last night were like catering operations with special menus and extra tables (we were crushed into a tiny table shoved into a corner that probably doesn't exist on a regular night) and they were no exception - yet, it was a very good meal and I did not find service lacking too much.

I looked at their menu on the way out and it looks good and reasonably priced for what it is. They are open for lunch too, which looks like a very good deal, indeed. Closed Sun. and Mon., BTW.

I don't think this is the place to go for cutting edge cuisine, but if you are looking for well-prepared traditional French food this place seems like a great find.

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