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Restaurants & Bars 2

Hats off to Portland

Mike M | Oct 7, 200202:29 PM

Just returned from 5 days in Portland. I'll try to limit my gushing about the place, but have to say those of you who live there or in the vicinity are very lucky people. What a great city! Very much enjoyed the restaurants (Paleys, Laslows, Joel Palmer, SouthPark, Heathman) that I went to, despite one wart described below. Particularly impressive was the high quality of the bread and coffee. Minor items perhaps, but something you can't at all take for granted in the Chicago area where I live--particularly the coffee. Ironically, the only exception to the excellent coffee was the Heathman, which was otherwise my favorite restaurant. One curious glitch: I won't mention the restaurant's name, as it was otherwise excellent, but I have to run this by you because it was so odd. One of our two entrées was an attempt at a clever variation on vitello tonnato. In this case the "vitello" was sweetbreads and the "tonnato" was a minor component of a vinaigrette that bathed the assorted vegetables accompanying the veal. The vegetables & vinaigrette were terrific, but the good news ends there. The menu referred to the sweetbreads as "crisped". Well, maybe…. The eight pieces were encased in heavy breading and sodden with cooking fat. Calling this "rich" would be wildly euphemistic. I assume/hope that this was a failure of execution--if anyone recognizes the entrée & place I'm talking about and had a better experience, I'd like to hear about it. Even assuming this was an off night, I question the concept itself--frying sweetbreads sounds to me like carrying coals to Newcastle. Last but not least, major kudos to Joel Palmers' winelist--obviously a bit lopsided in favor of Oregon wines, but I can't say that's a bad thing. (Shame on SouthPark for having relatively few Oregon wines on its list.) Of the two house (pinot noir) wines at Joel Palmers, the premium version (2000 Chehalem) was outstanding. One other wine note: Rose City Café (PDX) deserves major credit for incredibly reasonable prices on its wine. I had a glass of Erath pinot gris for $6--if you could find that price for wine at Ohare, it would be for something out of a box.

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