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Restaurants & Bars 10

Park Kitchen (PDX)

cmm | Jul 21, 200405:45 PM

Wife and I went to Park Kitchen for the first time this past Friday.

For starters, we had cold cucumber and almond soup with bits of salmon, and grilled sardines. The soup was just about perfect for a warm evening. The sardines were very good too; the dish consisted of two fillets from a Pacific sardine served over shaved fennel and topped with a gazpacho sauce. (These were Pacific sardines, which tend to be bigger and meatier than the Atlantic or Mediterranean variety and have a little different taste, as well). I love sardines, and I was happy to see this on the menu, but I thought $9 was a bit steep for essentially one sardine, even one as good as this one. We also got an small plate of the fava beans with arugula pesto; a simple but perfect preparation, and a big hit.

My main course was the grilled lamb chops. They were perfectly done to medium rare and were delicious. Again, though, I thought the portion (two chops) was pretty small for the price ($19.50). Wife had the muscovy duck. This was a bigger portion and the duck was perfectly prepared and served with a rich but tangy red currant sauce.

Park Kitchen's wine list has both excellent depth and breadth, with an emphasis on Oregon, France and, to a lesser extent, Spain. The pricing is extremely reasonable, too--substantially less than 2X retail--and they have some very interesting half-bottles, an option that I wish more restaurants made available. This made it possible for us to order a half-bottle of white with our appetizers (Qupe 2002 Marsanne, $15) and a half bottle of red with our main courses (Dom. le Pallieres 2001 Gigondas, $18). Both wines were served with nice stemware and were delicious. My only complaint was that the Gigondas was served too warm, but that was easily solved with a stint in an ice bucket.

Overall, I was impressed and will definitely return; the preparations were simple but expertly done, allowing the superior ingredients to shine through. Nonetheless, I thought the prices, especially for the small plates, were a little bit steep when compared to other good restaurants around town, such as Navarre, clarklewis and the Daily Cafe (IMO, the most underrated restaurant in town).

One final word: if you go to Park Kitchen on a warm evening, try not to sit in the back room by the kitchen. It is cramped, non-airconditioned, and has poor circulation. It was so warm back there on the night we went that it really detracted from the dining experience.

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