Just a quick recap of our recent Portland eating experience on a long-weekend visit in mid-August.
BEAST We enjoyed the communal seating. Always fun to enjoy a great meal with other foodies. Naomi’s food is delicious. First course was a lovely cucumber, grape and yogurt soup spiked with marcona almonds, and arctic char roe. A bit one-note for me at first but when I mixed everything together I got all the complexity and balance. A nice, subtle wake up call for the taste buds.
The charcuterie plate delivered, too. The steak tartare was perfect topped with a golden quail egg and the blood sausage with orange and hazelnut was probably the highlight of the whole evening for me. The rillettes missed for me with its chewy texture. Seemed to need more fat. The famous foie-gras bon-bon was good but the sauternes gelee didn’t provide enough contrast.
The dish of the night was duck breast with squash, eggplant, sweet pepper, and tomato emulsion. Never really thought of duck and a ratatouille profile working well together but this rocked. Big time.
Next was another foie-gras course, this time paired with great peaches, pickled onions and balsamic and a nice sliver of black truffle. Yum.
Dessert was simple and restrained with a buttermilk sorbet rounding out a lemon curd and ginger snap tart.
LINCOLN Started with buttermilk-battered onion rings. Decadent and deeply satisfying. My starter of heirloom tomatoes with tonnato sauce was absolutely on point. Fresh, crisp, and just enough saltiness to set off the veggies. Our second starter was a trip to Japan with uni surrounded by cucumber, peach, and mint. Again, very clean, bright and delicious. For mains, the roasted chicken with mizuna and shoe-string fries was perfectly executed comfort food. The chicken was crispy and juicy and the mizuna leaves added a great, heady vegetable note. Loved it. Our rabbit with chanterelles, white beans and olives also sang. The rabbit was spot-on and the mushrooms lent plenty of earthy richness. Again, a big thumbs-up.
Dessert was a big pile of Chester blackberries accompanied by a shot of cream and a chocolate cookie. These were the best blackberries I’ve had anywhere and the chef had the good sense to let them speak for themselves. A tiny splash of cream was all it needed. The cookie was delicious but not at all necessary.
ROE This meal was an experience. What Trent and Patrick accomplish in their tiny space without any fire is miraculous. Probably my best meal of the year. We snagged a seat at the counter and watched these two guys almost wordlessly create some truly inspired dishes. To start was a beautiful kampachi sashimi with foie-gras “snow,” wasabi tobiko and white soy ponzu. Next was a spot prawn in a watermelon gazpacho with smoked char roe, uni, and tiny slivers of finger limes. Had to put my fork down in amazement on this one. Perfect combination of brininess, smoke, umami, sweet, and acid. Hands down the best bites I’ve had in a long while. Wanted to get up and applaud. It was that good.
Surf and turf featuring poached lobster and sweetbreads with a huckleberry gastrique was next. This was the only dish of the night that didn’t do it for me. The cut job on the lobster was odd, the sweetbreads were slightly overcooked and the gastrique didn’t really bring it together. Maybe I was still distracted by the previous course.
The we went to Greece with octopus with marinated tomatoes, orange and eggplant puree. Perfect texture on the octopus and that eggplant puree was sinfully creamy.
The king salmon preparation that followed was incredible. It literally melted in my mouth. Paired with charred pardon peppers, mascarpone, and bottarga this was another mind-blowing combination.
The last savory course was poached tombo with a diver scallop, a Basque piperade, brought together in a great squid-ink sauce. I’m still thinking about that sweet scallop.
A micro-waved “30 second” brown butter cake with peaches, blackberries, and pecans was a nice transition to sweet and a dehydrated chocolate mousse with a dense coffee ganache rounded things out.
The wine-pairings are also worth a mention. The sommelier is wonderfully geeky about wine – as we are – and his attention to detail shows. We loved his pairings and were happy we left ourselves in his able hands.
PINE STATE BISCUIT Couldn’t leave Portland without indulging in a buttermilk biscuit with fried chicken, bacon, cheddar, and sausage gravy at the farmers market. Well worth the 20 minute wait.
Thank you Portland for a great foodie weekend. We’ll be back.