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[PDX] Axis Supper Club: John Gorham (Viande)

Nick | Dec 13, 200403:56 AM

Had dinner at the final true Axis Supper Club tonight out at Scholls Public House. John Gorham of Viande guest chefed.

Here were the courses:

* Prawn and grapefruit salad with arugula, crostini, and aioli

* Oxtail consomme with tourchon of foie gras

* Le cassoulet (pork, lamb, duck)

* Apple galette with persimmon gelato

* Cheeses by Steve Jones

I thought the salad course, the first course, was near perfect and the best course of the night. Ironic, given the pate and pastrami purveying chef. The shrimp was perfect -- a little sweetness, a little saltiness, tender. The grapefruit wasn't too bitter and went nicely as a balance to the sweetness of the shrimp. The aioli (cilantro or other herbaceous aioli? -- it was green) added a nice creaminess and richness. The arugula gave a cleansing vegetal note and the crostini a nice crisp texture (and it was perfectly crisp, not chewy or hard). A great course that I would be happy to get in any restaurant in the country, including the ***** ones.

The oxtail consomme was tasty, meaty and rich, with diced vegetables (arguably underdone) and shreds of meat. On top was the foie, about an ounce of it. I'm guessing they poached it in a flavored agent because it had a subtle sweetness and tartness. Very nice because the rich consomme with the rich liver actually received a high note from the foie.

The cassoulet was also good, though less so than the previous two dishes. Not sure which meats were which. There was a sausage, a smoked meat, and something braised. The beans were large, palish/yellow, and nicely cooked. It also came with braised greens and broccoli. I would have liked something bright, spicy, sour, etc, to break up the earthy, smoky, and meaty flavors.

My wife and I agreed that the dessert was the worst of the courses and the only one I wouldn't call a success (though still not bad). The filling for the gallette was very good, but the crust was lacking, and the ice cream was icy and didn't really taste like persimmon much.

All three cheeses were excellent: a brie, a goat cheese, and a washed rind cheese. It's rare that I would enjoy all three of those cheeses, but I did. And I didn't even mind that my fingers smelled like belly-button lint on the trip home.

I complained a little, but I would have been happy with the meal in most any restaurant in town. At $40, I would say it was fair, but not an especially good deal. I'd pay double, though, if all the courses were as good as the first. Overall, no doubting it was a good meal.

It will be interesting to see where Viande and Axis, now joining forces, will go. I expect good things.

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