Was in Portland last weekend. Following recommendations here and elsewhere, I went to Paley's one night and Bluehour the other.
Paley's was pretty much the worst "fine dining" restaurant meal I've ever had and Bluehour was very good and a lot of fun.
I arrived at Paley's 15 minutes late after reading about late seating tales and calling the restaurant for a progress report - they said we'd be seated 15 minutes late at the latest. Even then, we had to wait standing for 15 minutes before being seated. Mind you, this was after being called to confirm 2 days before - this happens with Daniel or Jean Georges, sure, but almost never in the Pacific NW, and at those places, you are whisked to your table when you arrive. I guess at Paley's they call to confirm just in case they can cram in a few more bookings. After reading the very uneven reviews on citysearch, we almost changed to Higgins at the last minute instead, and we really should have, but citysearch is kind of unreliable itself.
Anyway, the hostess didn't really seem to care that much that we were seated half an hour late. The server asks about water, but does not offer to take a drink order - we have to say that we want to order a drink 5-10 minutes after sitting down. The amuse bouche was a soggy piece of bread with a cheese spread that just didn't seem very special. My salad was slightly watery with an overly mustardy dressing with a bunch of shredded cheese. The presentation and the overall effect of the salad made it clear that nobody gave a damn back in the kitchen. It was the most amateurish salad I've eaten at a supposedly good restaurant. I really couldn't believe it, but I'm mostly just taking it in because I'm so hungry. Our steaks arrive. My first bite has a whiff of gas or lighter fluid and the steak is generally kind of underseasoned and underwhelming. My side of French fries is OK, but not as crispy as I would like. Dessert was good, but not super special - especially when compared with dessert the following night at Bluehour.
Overall, this was the worst "fine restaurant" meal I've ever eaten. I usually don't shy away from complaining at restaurants, but it was pretty clear that at Paley's, complaining wasn't going to really improve things - everything was mediocre. May be we could have had our bill shaved, but we were really tired after a long ugly drive through an accident-filled rain storm, and I guess I just didn't have the fight left in me.
Very very disappointing. It sure seems like it's coasting, or it may just be very very inconsistent. Or it's just one of those restaurants that gets good write ups but is basically not very good most of the time.
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