Portland, Oregon is one of the best cities for foodies. The dining scene is amazing. With so many cooking schools in town, young chefs are rising every now and then. So, stop by one of these restaurants and enjoy one of the simplest pleasures of life.
1) Little Bird (Downtown) --- What to order: We went to this French bistro for a lunch and we were assigned a table on the second floor, which was great, because we were able to see everybody from there. My husband ordered the special of the day, which was these roasted chicken drumsticks, served with potato and radish salad and caramelized Meyer lemon. He loved it. It was gently fried and then finished in the oven, so it was not too greasy.
|Roasted chicken drumsticks with potato radish salad & Meyer|
I got the Ricotta Gnocchi. They were out of this world DELICIOUS. Probably the best gnocchi I have ever tasted. Seriously. They were served with roasted oyster mushrooms, nettle pesto, and toasted hazelnuts. The nuts provided a great deep flavor to the dish.
|Ricotta Gnocchi with roasted oyster mushrooms, nettle pesto, hazelnuts|
For dessert, we shared the Apple Croustade: a delicious puff pastry, topped with few slices of apples, powdered sugar, and GRUYERE ice cream. The finishing touch was a drizzle of a good 30-year old balsamic reduction. But the best part was the gruyere ice cream. Totally different and unique, but at the same time a perfect complement for the sweet tart. Try it, please!
Apple Croustade, gruyere ice cream, 30-year balsamic
2) Ned Ludd (Northeast) --- What to order : This is an American Craft restaurant. The main attraction is the wood burning over, where everything is cooked (even the dessert). The ambience is informal and the décor is rustic. The food is simple, yet delicious and surprising :) We started with a cheese board, that included Swiss raclette on a slice of bread. We loved this cheese, it was beautifully melted and full of flavor. The platter also contained goat cheese, slices of Braeburn apples, homemade bread, apple butter, and pickled apples. Great for a beginning of a meal!
|Cheese board with Swiss raclette, goat cheese, Braeburn apple slices, apple butter|
|Whole Roasted Trout with carrot and radish salad|
|Petrale sole with blue mussels, white beans, and nettle puree|
|Oven kissed chocolate chip cookie with milk|
3) Nostrana by chef Cathy Whims (Best Chef Northwest, James Beard Award) --- What to order: Nostrana is a great restaurant. Chef Cathy Whims seems to be a very approachable person. We saw her greeting people on the tables next to us. In addition, our server Mike was extremely polite and we had a great lunch in there. We started with a Salad of Cannellini beans and Albacore Tuna Conserve with house giardiniera. The tuna was also house made and it was pretty impressive!
|Cannellini beans and Albacore tuna conserva & house giardiniera|
Then, we shared "Vongole Bianco" Pizza with Manila clams, Mama Lil's, oregano, garlic, provolone, smoked mozzarella, and lemon. It arrived on the table uncut and the crust was out of this world good. The juices of the clams were all over the pizza and the Mama Lil's gave some spiciness to the whole dish. Strongly recommended!
|Vongole bianco Pizza, uncut|
|Manila clams, Mama Lil's, oregano, garlic, provolone, smoked mozzarella, lemon|
The dessert was Chocolate Torrone Semifreddo with Tuscan chocolate sauce and candied almonds. It really tasted like a torrone, but it was also cold and creamy like a semifreddo. Great invention :)
|Chocolate torrone semifreddo with Tuscan chocolate sauce, candied almonds|
4) Riffle NW (Seafood Restaurant) --- What to order: Riffle is a seafood restaurant, located in the Pearl District of Portland. The only problem we had was our horrible server Jasin, he was so greedy and unpleasant. He did not bring bread to our table, we had to order it later in the middle of the meal. Also, when asked about different selections from the menu, he recommended the most expensive ones. I hope the manager of the restaurant will read this blog!
We started with Housemade Ricotta with Cracked Black Pepper and Truffle Honey. It came with toasted baguette from the Pearl Bakery. The cheese was so creamy and velvety.
|Housemade Ricotta with Cracked Black Pepper, Truffle Honey|
My husband got the Canary Rockfish. It was served with Clam ragu and Orecchiette. The pasta was buttery and fish crispy. This was a nice portion, satisfying, but not overwhelming.
|Canary Rockfish with Clam Ragu and Orecchiette|
I got the Spring Chinook Salmon. It came with a little bit of apple and beet agrodolce and arugula. This was a very small plate. Almost like an appetizer. There was nothing else on the plate, no starch at all and very few vegetables. If you get this plate, you are going to like it, but most probably you are going to eat the entire basket of bread!
|Spring Chinook Salmon with Apple & Beet Agro dolce and Arugula|
After all, the dessert was amazing. We had the Chocolate Pistachio Bar. On the bottom there was a Pistachio Financier, on top of it creamy chocolate mousse, and on the very top candied kumquat. The plate was dressed with a smear of pistachio sauce and Vanilla Bean Chantilly. It was mouth-watering! We also got a small Sterling Decaffeinated French Press and walked out with good memories :)
|Chocolate Pistachio Bar with Candied Kumquat, Pistachio Sauce|
5) A Cena Ristorante --- What to order: A Cena Ristorante is a family Italian place. We went there for a lunch and there were many tables with families with kids. We started with Grilled Octopus. It was deliciously served on a bed of corona beans, arugula, and lemon. The beans were so huge and so buttery. We loved the wilted arugula and softly prepared octopus (although the serving was very small, just few bites).
|Grilled Octopus, arugula, lemon, corona beans|
My husband got the Garganelli alla Norcia with fennel sausage, creminis, cream, and parmesan. It was a reasonable portion for lunch with very creamy consistency. He liked it with a Mirror Pond beer from Bend, Oregon.
|Garganelli alla Norcia with fennel sausage, creminis, cream|
I got the Roasted Halibut, which was served on a bed of pea and mascarpone risotto and topped with mint and apple salad. The portion was so tiny, I had to eat a lot of focaccia in order to satisfy my hunger.
|Roasted Halibut with pea and mascarpone risotto, mint and apple salad|
The best part of this meal was the Classic Tiramisu. A version made with Mascarpone cheese, espresso, dark rum, and cocoa. It was light and fluffy, a good amount to share! Lovely :)
|Classic Tiramisu with Mascarpone, espresso, dark rum, cocoa|
6) DOC by Chefs Jobie Bailey and Brian Scibetta --- What to order: This is a small restaurant, but expect to see it full. It is so popular in Portland right now. We started with an order of Bread, Olives, and Butter. They charge 2 dollars per person for it. Great bread, but I don't understand why do they have to charge for it, if most of the restaurants give it for "free".
|Bread, olives, and butter with a German beer|
Our first course was Burrata with huckleberry, and cress. Amazing creamy cheese, great tangy huckleberries and lightly dressed greens. I loved it! You can almost spread the burrata on a piece of bread and make a toast with the jam. So good!
|Burrata, huckleberry, cress|
My entrée was the Steelhead, served with sautéed cauliflowers, carrot, radish, and nettle puree. The veggies were finished with butter, and the crispy skin of the fish was touched with salt flakes. Overall, it was a simple, yet sophisticated dish.
|Steelhead, cauliflower, carrot, radish, nettle puree|
My husband's entrée was the Cavatelli with pork sugo, parsley, and gran ciacio. He liked it a lot, but told me that it was pretty heavy. So, if you are kind of full, go for a lighter dish.
|Cavatelli, pork sugo, parsley, gran ciacio|
The chocolate flourless cake was the gran finale! It was topped with pistachio ice cream and you have to eat them together, otherwise the cake is too bittersweet. Instead of baking it, they steamed it, so it was pretty moist. Thanks to the young chefs for this wonderful meal!
|Chocolate flourless cake, pistachio ice cream|
7) Tabla Mediterranean Bistro --- What to order: My husband tried the Dinner Price Fix Menu. The first course was the Beet and Fennel Salad served with castelvetrano olives, pecorino Romano, and Meyer lemon vinaigrette. It was great, but only if you are fan of the fennel.
|Beet and Fennel salad with castelvetrano olives, pecorino romano, meyer lemon|
His second course was the Tabla Ravioli, which is basically one big raviolo filled with chard, ricotta, and poached farm egg. Topped with plenty of parmesan cheese and drizzled with poppy seed butter.
|Tabla Ravioli topped with Parmesano and poppy seed butter|
|Tabla Ravioli filled with chard, ricotta, and poached farm egg|
His third course was the Duck Confit, served on top of heirloom squash, pancetta, calabrian chilis, and pinot noir-orange reduction. He adored it. It was a great piece of meat and very well cooked :)
|Duck Confit with heirloom squash, pancetta, calabrian chilis|
I got the Pan Seared Halibut with a bed of salad with radish, red onion, fennel, and lemon crème fraiche dressing. The fish was drizzled with salsa verde. It was delicate, but I felt that I was missing something more substantial. The salad was a little but over-dressed and very wilted.
|Pan Seared Halibu with radish, red onion, fennel, salsa verde|
The dessert was out of this world delicious!!! Chocolate cake with whiskey caramel, salter buttercream, and pecan brittle. I loved the brittle and the brownie-like flavor of the cake. The caramel was not overpowering, so I totally recommend this piece of heaven :)
|Chocolate Cake with whiskey caramel, salted buttercream, pecan brittle|