A couple weeks ago, my wife and I hit Alberta St Oyster Bar.
Didn't get good pictures, unfortunately. They have nice presentations, it'd be nice to show them. I like the room, too. Casual, but nice. It definitely has more of a modern bar feel than a restaurant.
The menu is split into three categories: first courses, second courses, and entrees. They have a separate dessert menu. First courses range in price from $4 for house cut fries with spicy remoulade to $9 for seared diver scallops over lentils, chicken liver sauce, aged balsamic, and fried leeks. Second courses are lighter on the tummy and pocketbook, ranging in price from $5 for baby field lettuces with walnut oil vinaigrette and preserved meyer lemon to $8 for dungeness crab salad with spicy black bean puree, avocado, and blood orange reduction. No entrees top $20, starting at $9 for a cascade natural burger with bacon, oregon blue cheese, spicy remoulade on a ciabatta roll and topping at $18 for roasted monkfish with braised oxtails, oyster mushrooms, kumquat glaze, and oxtail jus. Desserts were $6 or $7 for items like apple upside-down cake with candied ginger gelato and doughnut holes with coffee pot de creme and vanilla froth. They also had a selection of cheese at $8.
They also had a chalkboard with market priced oysters by the half dozen, plus daily specials. The oysters are served with choice of mignonette: champagne, mandarin, lemon-horseradish, or vanilla black pepper. I don't remember the pricing, but they had several types of oysters.
We didn't get any raw, but we did start with the fried Willapa Bay oysters with orange-mint yogurt ($7). They were ultra creamy and tender on the inside, the outside crispy and golden. The sauce was a perfect complement with multiple layers of flavor: sour/tangy yogurt, sweet/tangy orange, fragrant mint, and a little spice. The oysters had a mild taste and even I could enjoy them.
We also got the spice rubbed Oregon quail with celery root puree and pomegranate ($. The bird was very succulent, still medium rare, with a well-seasoned skin. The slightly sweet sauce went well with the game bird flavor. A very good dish.
My wife got the dungeness crab salad that I mentioned before for herself. This had a great presentation with all the components stacked and banana chips sticking out from the top like yellow rays shooting from the sun. The crab was very oceany. Not off-tasting, just strongly flavored of the sea. Too much for me. The dish was also salty and needed more grapefruit sauce, according to my wife. I think with some minor changes she would have loved this dish.
I got a starter special, the braised and glazed veal cheek on a mix of white sweet potato with smoked tongue. The piece of veal cheek was small but delicious, so tender and rich with the glaze bringing out the meat's sweetness. The tongue was in little pieces adding much the same quality that bacon pieces add to most anything. The dish was served with a meaty huckleberry sauce that could have been brighter to balance all the rich, earthy components.
We shared the braised beef short ribs with potato gnocchi, root vegetables, and truffled braising jus ($16). The truffle smell immediately overtook the senses upon its delivery, always a nice way to get the diner excited. The ribs were very tender, but not mushy. The outside had the texture of roasted, not stewed meat, which was welcome. The sauce was meaty and rich with a truffle aftertaste. The gnocchi were very soft and creamy, lightly sauteed to add color and caramelization. The portion was pretty small for $16, but I can't complain about the quality of the dish.
We ended by sharing the chocolate flourless torte with hazelnuts and cinnamon gelato ($7). The ice cream was very good, but there was too little of the sauce. The chocolate torte itself was rather bland and too heavily covered in cocoa. Unfortunately for them, too, I had just been making flourless chocolate cakes that week and even when I was forced to use Ghiradelli semi-sweet enhanced with a little Lindt 85% chocolate I got a more rounded, fuller chocolate flavor. (Cook's Illustrated recipe.) The dessert looked nice, but I want a flourless chocolate cake to have an intense, almost overbearing chocolate flavor.
I wouldn't have any problem returning. The food was good overall and reasonably priced, even if as prices stay the same in Portland, portion sizes seem to be reduced.