In the last week I visited both Rivers at Avalon and Lucere at Riverplace for lunch. Actually, Rivers was for a Saturday brunch. The food at both was decent but a little boring. Part of that was that they were lunch/brunch.
eg, I ordered the Caesar at Rivers and my wife ordered the french toast with seasonal fruit. Neither were anything special whatsoever and a bit expensive. The place has a good view of the river with outdoor seating. Indoor they have a funky bar area with stools that look like pimento stuffed olives. The dining room is colorful but not really nice with somewhat uncomfortable seating. The prices aren't bad for hotel dining. Looking at the dinner menu, most entrees were under $20 and had many of the typical items you see on hotel menus, new york steaks, salmon, etc, without any indication of interesting preparations or sides. They may be prepared wonderfully, though, but I haven't tried them. However, there was an interesting note at the bottom of the menu that said they do a tasting menu and to ask for details. I did. Apparently it's $85 and 7 courses. I don't know how generous the portions are or if there are extra courses typical with tasting menus like amuses, mignardises, palate cleansers, etc. The server only said that it contains future dishes the chef is trying out. Maybe it's more adventurous items that he'll never get to put on the main menu because the management wants a safe menu. I don't know.
I would love to know if anyone has tried the tasting menu or the dinner menu and what they thought.
I wanted to get back to Lucere sometime now that they've changed chefs and chose lunch since you can usually get a feel for if things have gone downhill without shelling out as much dough. Being on Atkins not many of the entrees interested me since they had the typical, especially for Portland, boring options for lunch with sandwiches, burgers, and sides of fries. I got an appetizer instead which at $8 was actually more expensive than most of the entrees. It was the seared albacore tuna with fennel salad. My wife got the soup and sandwich, with a turkey sandwich and mushroomy soup. Everything was good. The soup was difficult to pinpoint where the flavors were coming from, but it was tasty. The turkey sandwich was decent with a dressing of some sort that my wife liked. My tuna was pretty good for what it was. I prefer the milder fish flavor of ahi tuna, but it was still decent with a nice spicy crust. When eaten with the fennel salad (I think the fennel was softened and flavored by being braised and it was served with other vegetables and a light dressing) it diminished the fish flavor (this was a "good" fish as opposed to a bad fish flavor; I just don't like either) and balanced the spiciness. Overall it was pretty tasty. Wish I could have tried the desserts but we didn't have time. I don't know if they changed pastry chefs or not but their pastries used to be one of my absolute favorite things there and was maybe my favorite dessert place in town when Sauton was at the helm. Bing cherry fritters....damn, I miss those. Always interesting ice creams on the side, too. I think Lucere is worth an attempt for dinner. Looking at the dinner menu, it looks less interesting than the Lucere menus were (you can still see a typical Lucere menu on the website http://www.riverplacehotel.com/Menu.htm where they haven't even changed chef names, yet), but more interesting than the Rivers' menu. At least it still had a distinctly northwest feel and from lunch I do trust the execution to be at least adequate. Prices looked much the same with only one or two entrees in the early $20 range.
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