Portland Dining Month 2017 – Recap

I wrote about what Portland Dining Month is in a previous post, and gave some highlights of what piqued my interest on the list. Here are a few images from where I was able to dine in March!

Bluehour

Extras: bread service, amuse bouche from chef
Portland Dining Month 2017 Bluehour, bread service Portland Dining Month 2017 Bluehour, amuse bouche
First course: Roasted beet terrine of goat cheese, trout roe, pea tendrils and saba
I found these to be beautiful and the bites are intensely flavored with roasted beet and creamy goat cheese.
Portland Dining Month 2017 Bluehour menu with a First of Roasted Beet Terrine with goat cheese, trout roe, pea tenders, apple balsamic; Second of Braised Muscovy Duck Leg with chestnut dumplings, charred leeks, shallots, red wine jus; Third of Dulce de Leche Bread Pudding with cocoa crunch, sea salt, fernet ice cream Portland Dining Month 2017 Bluehour menu with a First of Roasted Beet Terrine with goat cheese, trout roe, pea tenders, apple balsamic; Second of Braised Muscovy Duck Leg with chestnut dumplings, charred leeks, shallots, red wine jus; Third of Dulce de Leche Bread Pudding with cocoa crunch, sea salt, fernet ice cream
Second course:
Braised Muscovy duck leg with chestnut dumplings, charred leeks, shallots and a red wine jus
My favorite part was actually not that perfectly cooked duck, but the melt in your mouth chestnut dumplings!
Portland Dining Month 2017 Bluehour menu with a First of Roasted Beet Terrine with goat cheese, trout roe, pea tenders, apple balsamic; Second of Braised Muscovy Duck Leg with chestnut dumplings, charred leeks, shallots, red wine jus; Third of Dulce de Leche Bread Pudding with cocoa crunch, sea salt, fernet ice cream
Third course: Dulce de Leche Bread Pudding with cocoa crunch, sea salt, fernet ice cream
Obviously these are not the “Choco taco” of Fernet and chocolate ice cream, anise pizzelle cookie, valrhona chocolate and hazelnuts listed on the Portland Dining Month website, and this was fine – my dining companion finished all of hers, and this is probably a more substantial dessert offering (and who doesn’t love cocoa crunch?)
Portland Dining Month 2017 Bluehour menu with a First of Roasted Beet Terrine with goat cheese, trout roe, pea tenders, apple balsamic; Second of Braised Muscovy Duck Leg with chestnut dumplings, charred leeks, shallots, red wine jus; Third of Dulce de Leche Bread Pudding with cocoa crunch, sea salt, fernet ice cream

Clyde Common

First course: Pancit Bihon: Filipino stir fry-style noodle dish with an assortment of vegetables and chicken
I am usually a fan of pancit but I found these a bit soggy
Clyde Common participating in Portland Dining Month 2017 offered a First course of Pancit with bihon noodles, chicken, cabbage, and carrot, a Second course of Adobo with soy and vinegar braised pork shoulder, broccoli, basmati rice, and egg, and Third course of Mamon with sponge cake, marshmallow fluff, grana padano, and pandan ice cream - all for $29
Second course: Pork Adobo: soy- and vinegar-braised pork shoulder with jasmine rice, fried egg and roasted broccoli
Holy moly I was impressed that this was such a large dish, really belly filling!
Clyde Common participating in Portland Dining Month 2017 offered a First course of Pancit with bihon noodles, chicken, cabbage, and carrot, a Second course of Adobo with soy and vinegar braised pork shoulder, broccoli, basmati rice, and egg, and Third course of Mamon with sponge cake, marshmallow fluff, grana padano, and pandan ice cream - all for $29
Third course: Mamon: sponge cake with marshmallow fluff, Pandan ice cream and Grana Padano
A nice light finish that offers a little sweetness and a hint of savory with the Grana Padano
Clyde Common participating in Portland Dining Month 2017 offered a First course of Pancit with bihon noodles, chicken, cabbage, and carrot, a Second course of Adobo with soy and vinegar braised pork shoulder, broccoli, basmati rice, and egg, and Third course of Mamon with sponge cake, marshmallow fluff, grana padano, and pandan ice cream - all for $29

Little Bird Bistro

*As a gratuity free restaurant, the price listed on the menus will be $35. No additional gratuity is expected.
Extras: bread service. Don’t feel shy about asking for a refill of bread to go with that sweet and salty butter and to wipe up the juices from your main dish.
Little Bird Bistro bread service
First course (choose one): mmm these were both good
Shredded kale salad with toasted sesame seeds, pecan vinaigrette and buttermilk blue
-Or-
Potato gnocchi with pickled apple, parmesan vinaigrette, and marcona almonds
Little Bird Bistro Portland Dining Month 2017 Menu starter of Shredded Kale Salad with toasted sesame seeds, pecan vinaigrette, buttermilk blue Little Bird Bistro Portland Dining Month 2017 First Course of Potato Gnocchi pickled apple, parmesan vinaigrette, marcona almonds
Second course (choose one): My dining companion and I both went with the cod, which was a big piece of fish and I loved the toasted farro texture balanced with shrimp cream
Blue Cornmeal Crusted Cod with toasted farro, shrimp cream, smoked salmon, pickled onions, fried capers
-Or-
Grilled lamb terrine with chickpea stew, nicoise olives, citrus with a harissa vinaigrette
Little Bird Bistro Portland Dining Month 2017 Second Course of Blue Cornmeal Crusted Cod with toasted farro, shrimp cream, smoked salmon, pickled onions, fried capers for our Main
Third course (choose one): I prefered how the panna cotta offers textural fun, but the lighter dessert is the duo
Dulce de leche panna cotta with a chocolate crumb, candied ginger and pinapple granité
-Or-
Ice cream and sorbet duo served with a shortbread cookie
Little Bird Bistro Portland Dining Month 2017 Third Course of Dessert of Dulce de Leche Panna Cotta with chocolate crumb, candied ginger, pineapple granité Little Bird Bistro Portland Dining Month 2017 Third Course of Ice Cream & Sorbet Duo daily with shortbread cookie

Southpark Seafood

Extras: bread service. I love when butter is served softened.
Little Bird Bistro bread service
First course (choose one): More clam chowders should offer the big gnocchi!
Mixed greens salad with hazelnuts, Asian pear, olive oil and Katz’s sauvignon blanc vinegar
-Or-
Caesar salad made with romaine, radish, Parmigiano Reggiano, torn croutons and anchovy vinaigrette
-Or-
Brussels sprouts with gochujang, cilantro and peanuts
-Or-
Clam chowder with braised bacon and gnocchi
Southpark Seafood Portland Dining Month offers $29 for three courses, such as Clam Chowder with braised bacon and gnocchi, Squid Ink Fettuccine with white shrimp, 'Nduja, calabrian chilies, and scallions, and then I had a Chocolate Petit Four for a dessert (choice of peanut butter or espresso)
Second course (choose one): On the Portland Dining Month menu they mentioned a tortellini en brodo, but that has been replaced with grilled octopus. Also note how this menu is vegetarian friendly with salads and the mushroom pizza available for a second course here
Steelhead and freekeh with carrots, cauliflower and pistachio
-Or-
Grilled Octopus with chorizo, navy beans, olives, lacinato kale
-Or-
Fettuccine with white shrimp, ‘Nduja, Calabrian chilies and scallions
-Or-
Mushroom pizza with shimeji, maitake, Taleggio and rosemary
Southpark Seafood Portland Dining Month offers $29 for three courses, such as Clam Chowder with braised bacon and gnocchi, Squid Ink Fettuccine with white shrimp, 'Nduja, calabrian chilies, and scallions, and then I had a Chocolate Petit Four for a dessert (choice of peanut butter or espresso)
Third course (choose one): I picked the peanut butter chcoolate petit four
Scoop of gelato or sorbet in salted caramel, vanilla or berry flavors
-Or-
Chocolate petit fours, choice of  peanut butter or espresso
Southpark Seafood Portland Dining Month offers $29 for three courses, such as Clam Chowder with braised bacon and gnocchi, Squid Ink Fettuccine with white shrimp, 'Nduja, calabrian chilies, and scallions, and then I had a Chocolate Petit Four for a dessert (choice of peanut butter or espresso) Southpark Seafood Portland Dining Month offers $29 for three courses, such as Clam Chowder with braised bacon and gnocchi, Squid Ink Fettuccine with white shrimp, 'Nduja, calabrian chilies, and scallions, and then I had a Chocolate Petit Four for a dessert (choice of peanut butter or espresso)

Where have you been to Portland Dining Month? Or, where did you wish you still had a chance to go? Don’t forget you still have tonight and tomorrow night to try to squeeze in one more dinner!

Signature

A lunch at Angelini Osteria in LA

While on the plane from Portland to Los Angeles, I was reading Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany by Bill Buford. Reading as he tries to master pasta in Italy was giving me crazy cravings for pasta which I got my fix at Forma Restaurant as I wrote last week, but also for the simple seasonal food he writes about that Italians are known for there despite the Italian American images of hearty pastas and red sauce and meatballs with garlic bread. My sister recommended we try out a lunch at Angelini Osteria, and it was incredible. It really felt like it was airlifted from Italy to this street in LA, bringing both the food and atmosphere and accented waiters all with.

The menu is pretty extensive You can nosh on some tasty flatbread as you consider your many options.
Example lunch menu from Angelini Osteria in LA Crispy flatbread as part of the bread service from Angelini Osteria in LA

We arrived for lunch at Angelini Osteria on Monday – this was a surprise meal for me because I should have already been preparing to go to the airport, but because of the winter storms on the east coast the flight schedules had been severely disrupted so instead of arriving in PDX at 5 PM as planned, I wouldn’t be leaving LA until evening and arriving in PDX after midnight! But this meal made it all better, and I will definitely come again and again here. I think my sister told me she’s been back here four times.

My sister told me Angelini Osteria is usually quite busy, but on this Monday lunch it was not, and as we sat at tables on the sidewalk with my niece in her stroller, we were surprised with some warm Italian generosity with a complimentary taste to share of the Tuscan Farro Salad with Red Onions, Cucumber, Cherry Tomatoes and the Zuppa del Nonno, a Vegetables, Tomatoes and Mixed Fish Soup.
Angelini Osteria Tuscan Farro Salad, Red Onions, Cucumber, Cherry Tomatoes Angelini Osteria's Zuppa del Nonno, a Vegetables, Tomatoes and Mixed Fish Soup

We started with Red Beets with fresh Burrata, mixed baby greens, orange dressing and the Polipo with Warm Mediterranean Octopus, Arugula, Cherry Tomatoes. It is difficult to choose which of these was better: I lean towards the octopus because it was cooked perfectly, though I also loved the textural fun of the beets and burrata that were dressed just the right amount with the orange dressing so it added flavor but didn’t overwhelm the salad.
Angelini Osteria menu item of Red Beets with fresh Burrata, mixed baby greens, orange dressing Angelini Osteria's Zuppa del Nonno, a Vegetables, Tomatoes and Mixed Fish Soup

For pastas, we shared Lasagna Verde Nonna Elvira with spinach, beef, veal ragu and the Linguine with Santa Barbara Sea Urchin, Garlic, Chives. Both were really good, and succeeded in how they highlighted entirely different ingredients. The lasagna was more about the greens and the sauce, while the linguine was all about the al dente pasta and sea urchin.
Angelini Osteria menu item of Lasagna Verde Nonna Elvira with spinach, beef, veal ragu Angelini Osteria menu item of Linguine with Santa Barbara Sea Urchin, Garlic, Chives

Then, the main we had was fileted tableside for us, the Grilled Branzino with mixed baby greens was spot on in being able to enjoy something simple that let the goodness of the fish shine.
Angelini Osteria menu item of Grilled Branzino with mixed baby greens, which they filet tableside for you Angelini Osteria menu item of Grilled Branzino with mixed baby greens, which they filet tableside for you

Angelini Alimentari recently opened next door to Angelinia Osteria where you can get coffees and gelato in flavors like in our visit they offered Nociola (hazelnut), Melone, Stracchiatella (chocolate chip), Strawberry, Pistachio, Caffe, Salted Caramel, Gianduja (chocolate hazelnut), Frutti di Bosco sorbet, and Limone Sorbetto. Sorry, no shots of the gelato since it was 80 degrees so I was more concerned with eating it then photographing it!

Where do you get your Italian fix in Portland? What would you order from what you’ve seen of my lunch at Angelinia Osteria?

Angelini Osteria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Signature

Spring Musicals at Portland Center Stage

The dressing rooms, hallways, and stages are alive with music at PCS! This past weekend, Portland Center Stage debuted the world premier of of two new shows both featuring music: Wild and Reckless: A New Concert Event with Blitzen Trapper (running until April 30, 2017) and Lauren Weedman Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (running until April 30, 2017).

I attended both and here’s are my thoughts on the Spring Musicals at Portland Center Stage.

Wild and Reckless: A New Concert Event with Blitzen Trapper

Portland Center Stage and Wild and Reckless: A New Musical Event from Blitzen Trapper. Written and Performed By Blitzen Trapper, Directed by Rose Riordan and Liam Kaas-Lentz Poster Design by Michael Buchino Photo by Kate Szrom

A World Premiere!
Blitzen Trapper mined their lyrical storytelling and Oregonian roots to create a story for the stage that fuses the energy of a rock concert with the imaginative possibility of the theater. Wild and Reckless traces the unforgettable tale of two kids on the run, in a futuristic vision of Portland’s past. Evoking a bygone era of Portland, this sci-fi dystopian love story features a rock-and-roll score that marries previously unreleased songs with favorites from the band’s catalog, including “Black River Killer” and “Astronaut.” Portland Center Stage at The Armory commissioned Wild and Reckless as the second world premiere in its new “Northwest Stories” series, dedicated to developing and producing stories about, or by artists from, the northwest region.

The performance runs for approximately 90 minutes with no intermission. Ticket prices range from $25-75 depending on show and seats. All performances are at the Armory (128 NW 11th Avenue, in the Pearl District). See more details and other ticket specials for groups, students, military, or learn about rush tickets here.

Recommended for ages 17 and up. Contains theatrical haze, strobe-like lighting effects, mature content, explicit language and adult situations. Children under 6 are not permitted at any production.

In terms of what I thought of the show, if you are someone that likes Blitzen Trapper already, you will like this show. If you like like indie rock bands with a folksy sound but sprinkle of pop (the video gives a taste of that music below), you will enjoy the show as well. The voices of Eric Earley, playing the main narrator, and Laura Carbonell who plays as a character “The Girl” intertwine beautifully so that although on stage you only witness the subtlest of physical connection through simple proximity, leaning into each other, and holding hands, you believe in the love story from their voices.

Story-wise, I admit being confused at first until Brian Adrian Koch, playing The Scientist, lays down the groundwork to establish this parallel reality Portland that this story is set. Brian, of the five band members of Blitzen Trapper apparently has the most theater experience, and is able to have the most fun chewing the scenery and brings some levity to the otherwise dark and emotional tale. Meanwhile his bandmates (not counting Laura and also Leif Norby who plays The Dealer, both who are also theater veterans who are added to the cast besides the Blitzen Trapper band members) seem to still be figuring out this line between ad hoc performance in a concert setting playing music but also having to remember blocking on a stage. I did see the show opening night so this could be easily smoothed with more time.

Also, importantly I don’t want to sell Eric short. Eric has to carry the emotional weight of the show. This can be a difficult burden when you function as the narrator and so also are an observer of the past that provide constant exposition for the audience. Towards the end there is a heart wrenching moment that he completely embodies that really makes this play impactful.

Laura Carbonell as The Girl and Eric Earley as The Narrator in the show Wild and Reckless with Blitzen Trapper at The Armory. Photo by Patrick Weishampel/blankeye.tv
Laura Carbonell as The Girl and Eric Earley as The Narrator in “Wild and Reckless” at The Armory. Photo by Patrick Weishampel/blankeye.tv.

Speaking of the stage, the production here is top notch – it manifests itself obviously in the intense and very cool setting of the stage (plus a magical bathtub), but the sound was always perfect, and timing of cues with lights (ha ha) always spot on. Given that there are TWO shows playing in repertory (alternating performance between the two shows), keep in mind they need to partially tear town/move pieces each time the shows swap – which mean several times a week!

Once you as the audience understand the importance of lightening and dust in this alternate version of Portland, the rest of the story and songs begin to come together. On the surface, it’s a youthful love story, and it’s also a tale of the effects of addiction. Some of the lines from The Scientist, The Professor, and The Dealer also stir in questions about enablers, either directly or through inaction, and how that is also a reflection of our society.

This latter part was after some contemplation and cocktails after the show – part of me wonders of adding just a sentence or two at the end could have brought this point home better and made the end of the play a little smoother. I’m torn on this idea: on one hand, I don’t like when storytelling has to almost spell it out for the audience (and I definitely hate if they hit you over the head with it), but on the other hand the end of the play seemed abrupt.

Lauren Weedman

A World Premiere!
What do you do when your heart is broken? When your world seems to be falling apart, one frustration at a time. Grab a guitar, hitch up your jeans, and sing about it! From the star of HBO’s Looking and The People’s Republic of Portland at The Armory, Lauren Weedman (and her alter ego Tami Lisa) are ready to take you on a journey of heartbreak, laughter and fresh starts. Lauren will be joined by a band of fine musicians; and we’re pretty sure her hair will be bigger than ever..

Portland Center Stage, Lauren Weedman publicity photo. Lauren Weedman, star of Lauren Weedman Doesn't Live Here Anymore. Written and Performed by Lauren Weedman, Directed by Rose Riordan. Photo by Kate Szrom
The performance runs for approximately 90 minutes with no intermission. Ticket prices range from $25-75 depending on show and seats. All performances are at the Armory (128 NW 11th Avenue, in the Pearl District). See more details and other ticket specials for groups, students, military, or learn about rush tickets here.

Recommended for ages 17 and up. Contains mature content, explicit language, nude photos and adult situations. Children under 6 are not permitted at any production.

The best way I can think of to explain what this show is would be to describe it as another tale of heartbreak via betrayal and finding out how to be ok with oneself, but this one done with sharp humor almost along the lines of stand up with its chattiness. Lauren uses her Tami Lisa alter ego to channel a country girl variety show host that includes conversations and musical performances by guests and with other characters – all who are by the way, the one woman show of Lauren. In the meantime, snippets of her real life hardships are also faced by Tami Lisa (and her cast of characters) as the undercurrent to the variety show.

Lauren Weedman in her newest show, Lauren Weedman Doesn't Live Here Anymore. Photo by Patrick Weishampel/blankeye
Lauren Weedman in her newest show, Lauren Weedman Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. Photo by Patrick Weishampel/blankeye.

Lauren has an amazing ability to really switch out into the various characters during the show, including some great physical acting for a few of them so that even before she says a word, you know we’re back to her friend/employee Cornbread. She keeps the show moving at a fast pace with her mouth moving at a sometimes dizzying almost manic cadence, and maintains apparently boundless energy. Even sitting on the stool briefly for part of a monologue here or there, you sense the tornado within.

Although there’s lots of laugh outloud moments, there are real concerns that also present themselves throughout – what do other people think of me? The persona of Tami Lee putting up a fake persona herself of being fine when she’s not, and then through some ups and downs, all with ferocious humor, finding a way to actually be ok.

As always, I highly recommend visiting the PCS webpage for Wild and Reckless: A New Concert Event with Blitzen Trapper and Lauren Weedman Doesn’t Live Here Anymore because they often have lots of fun events before or after the show, sometimes with complimentary snacks and beverages so it can really make it a whole outing! This can vary from Taste of Oregon wine, beer, or cider tastings to movie nights (such as free movie and pizza with  Movie Night: Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny on April 10 or Movie Night at The Armory: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas on April 16) to shows celebrating female empowerment and identity crisis with a Identity Crisis Comedy Event (April 2, $5) with six female artists doing sketches or several Rock and Roll Walking Tours on several Sundays in April. There are several discount codes for show tickets on the website as well!

Disclosure: I was invited to see these opening night productions at Portland Center Stage, but I will always provide my honest opinion and assessment of all products and experiences I may be given. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own

 

 

Signature

Quaintrelle

Spring is almost here… it’s been such so dreary and relentless with the rain so far. I keep reminding myself that the rain is what helps make the crops grow. Recently, I visited Quaintrelle, which focuses on Pacific Northwest cuisine with 80-85% of their food sourced locally and especially loves to show off the natural flavors when ingredients are so direct farm to table.

Quaintrelle is located in a little corner that may seem a little hidden from North Mississipi , but it also means when the weather improves they will be able to fill the patio portion in front between its doors and the streets with some great tables so you can dine al fresco and people-watch in this fun neighborhood.
Quaintrelle: A woman who emphasizes a life of passion expressed through personal style, leisurely pastimes, charm, and a cultivation of life's pleasures. Or a charming Pacific Northwest cuisine focused Portland restaurant that emphasizes 80-85% local ingredients. Quaintrelle: A woman who emphasizes a life of passion expressed through personal style, leisurely pastimes, charm, and a cultivation of life's pleasures. Or a charming Pacific Northwest cuisine focused Portland restaurant that emphasizes 80-85% local ingredients.

I love the hip industrial use of dramatic black walls and seats and Pacific Northwest wood chic that echo the roll up garage door in the front, and modern lighting fixtures but with soft light. There are spotlights of farm ingredients photos on the wall which is then softened with the life of greenery in flowers and succulents. It’s a cool mix of hard and soft in atmosphere that seems to personify the name of the restaurant, which greets you at the door with the meaning of quaintrelle.

Quaintrelle: A woman who emphasizes a life of passion expressed through personal style, leisurely pastimes, charm, and a cultivation of life’s pleasures.

Quaintrelle: A woman who emphasizes a life of passion expressed through personal style, leisurely pastimes, charm, and a cultivation of life's pleasures. Or a charming Pacific Northwest cuisine focused Portland restaurant that emphasizes 80-85% local ingredients. Quaintrelle: A woman who emphasizes a life of passion expressed through personal style, leisurely pastimes, charm, and a cultivation of life's pleasures. Or a charming Pacific Northwest cuisine focused Portland restaurant that emphasizes 80-85% local ingredients. Quaintrelle: A woman who emphasizes a life of passion expressed through personal style, leisurely pastimes, charm, and a cultivation of life's pleasures. Or a charming Pacific Northwest cuisine focused Portland restaurant that emphasizes 80-85% local ingredients. Quaintrelle: A woman who emphasizes a life of passion expressed through personal style, leisurely pastimes, charm, and a cultivation of life's pleasures. Or a charming Pacific Northwest cuisine focused Portland restaurant that emphasizes 80-85% local ingredients. Quaintrelle: A woman who emphasizes a life of passion expressed through personal style, leisurely pastimes, charm, and a cultivation of life's pleasures. Or a charming Pacific Northwest cuisine focused Portland restaurant that emphasizes 80-85% local ingredients. Quaintrelle: A woman who emphasizes a life of passion expressed through personal style, leisurely pastimes, charm, and a cultivation of life's pleasures. Or a charming Pacific Northwest cuisine focused Portland restaurant that emphasizes 80-85% local ingredients.

If you notice the stairs, yes there is a second level to Quaintrelle with an upstairs dining room that could be perfect for a private party of 25 people too.
Quaintrelle: A woman who emphasizes a life of passion expressed through personal style, leisurely pastimes, charm, and a cultivation of life's pleasures. Or a charming Pacific Northwest cuisine focused Portland restaurant that emphasizes 80-85% local ingredients. Quaintrelle: A woman who emphasizes a life of passion expressed through personal style, leisurely pastimes, charm, and a cultivation of life's pleasures. Or a charming Pacific Northwest cuisine focused Portland restaurant that emphasizes 80-85% local ingredients. Quaintrelle: A woman who emphasizes a life of passion expressed through personal style, leisurely pastimes, charm, and a cultivation of life's pleasures. Or a charming Pacific Northwest cuisine focused Portland restaurant that emphasizes 80-85% local ingredients. Quaintrelle: A woman who emphasizes a life of passion expressed through personal style, leisurely pastimes, charm, and a cultivation of life's pleasures. Or a charming Pacific Northwest cuisine focused Portland restaurant that emphasizes 80-85% local ingredients.

It’s not just the atmosphere that has been thoughtfully crafted for you. So are the incredible drinks – the cocktail scene here is stunning thanks to the Bar Manager Camille Cavan. I especially appreciated how after each cocktail’s listing of ingredients, there is also a description of the experience you will get with the cocktail: for instance, these cocktails of

  • A Conjugal Visit cocktail with gin, calvados, apple cider, lemon, egg white, celery bitters: dry, tart, refreshing
  • Old Soul cocktail with Tequila, vecchio del capo, ancho reyes, pineapple gomme, lime, sea salt: smooth, textured, fruit forward
  • This Too Shall Pass, with gin, maurin quina, ramazzotti, house chamomile liqueur, blood orange, lime: complex, floral, acidic
  • Formulated Charm cocktail with Laird’s bonded apple brandy, aged rum, ginger liqueur, house orgeat, lime, spices: ginger/almond forward, rich and bright
    Quaintrelle cocktails created by Bar Manager Camille Cavan. Quaintrelle cocktails created by Bar Manager Camille Cavan. A Conjugal Visit cocktail with gin, calvados, apple cider, lemon, egg white, celery bitters: dry, tart, refreshing Quaintrelle cocktails created by Bar Manager Camille Cavan. A Conjugal Visit cocktail with gin, calvados, apple cider, lemon, egg white, celery bitters: dry, tart, refreshing Quaintrelle cocktails created by Bar Manager Camille Cavan. Old Soul cocktail with Tequila, vecchio del capo, ancho reyes, pineapple gomme, lime, sea salt: smooth, textured, fruit forward Quaintrelle cocktails created by Bar Manager Camille Cavan. This Too Shall Pass, with gin, maurin quina, ramazzotti, house chamomile liqueur, blood orange, lime: complex, floral, acidic Quaintrelle cocktails created by Bar Manager Camille Cavan. Formulated Charm cocktail with Laird's bonded apple brandy, aged rum, ginger liqueur, house orgeat, lime, spices: ginger/almond forward, rich and bright

And so is the food! One of the amazing things about the food here is also the textures that are layered along with the flavors for each of the dishes. Executive Chef Bill Wallender does a thoughtful job of layering on textures, not just with crunchy toppings, but also even with the way vegetables are cut. He cares about getting the best from the farm to your table, even if it means purchasing a few ingredients from this farm, a a few ingredients from this other farm, etc. which means reading multiple ingredients list a week from all the many farms he has relationships with. He even works with some farms to plan out plantings of some ingredients for future season’s meals.

Here are a few examples of what I mean: the dishes change often given that it takes a cue from what is fresh from the farm, so these are just to show what Quaintrelle can do.

From the starters, look for something like the Tetsukabuto, broccoli, maitake tempura topped with chili honey and pecorino that is perfectly crispy without being greasy and a great combo of just a touch of sweet and savory. Or, the wild mushrooms, stinging nettles, chevre on toast which takes advantage of the stinging nettles right now. Or, the wonderful textures of the raw beef, purple sprouting broccoli, peanuts, horseradish which is a big enough dish to easily share for four or six people.
Quaintrelle, Pacific Northwest cuisine focused Portland restaurant that emphasizes 80-85% local ingredients. Start dish option of tetsukabuto, broccoli, maitake tempura topped with chili honey and pecorino Quaintrelle, Pacific Northwest cuisine focused Portland restaurant that emphasizes 80-85% local ingredients. Start dish option of wild mushrooms, stinging nettles, chevre on toast Quaintrelle, Pacific Northwest cuisine focused Portland restaurant that emphasizes 80-85% local ingredients. Start dish option of raw beef, purple sprouting broccoli, peanuts, horseradish

From the vegetables section, do not miss ordering the vegetarian dish of sheep cheese dumplings, trumpet mushrooms, and radicchio – it’s a dish using Black Sheep Creamery sheep cheese for spring and summer, and the dumplings are always on the menu but for fall and winter swapped seasonally for Briar Rose goat cheese instead for a slightly different combo. For an example of texture fun you can do just with a knife, check out the vegetables dish of beets, sesame, watermelon radishes, cashews, baby greens and which if you look carefully, you’ll see Oregon grown quinoa sprinkled on!
Quaintrelle, Pacific Northwest cuisine focused Portland restaurant that emphasizes 80-85% local ingredients. Vegetables dish of sheep cheese dumplings, trumpet mushrooms, and radicchio Quaintrelle, Pacific Northwest cuisine focused Portland restaurant that emphasizes 80-85% local ingredients. Vegetables dish of beets, sesame, watermelon radishes, cashews, baby greens

From the Meat and Fish section will e the more protein forward dishes like the Lamb shank with squash, aleppo pepper, dried olives, mint, and the Ling cod with borlotto beans, leeks, fennel, manila clams.
Quaintrelle, Pacific Northwest cuisine focused Portland restaurant that emphasizes 80-85% local ingredients. Meat and Fish section dish of Lamb shank with squash, aleppo pepper dried olives, mint Quaintrelle, Pacific Northwest cuisine focused Portland restaurant that emphasizes 80-85% local ingredients. Meat and Fish section dish of Ling cod with borlotto beans, leeks, fennel, manila clams

Depending on your mood, go for the rich decadent dessert of coffee pudding with vanilla cream and shortbread cookies or the lighter olive oil cake with lemon curd, huckleberry, pistachios and pair it with their Amari Flight.
Quaintrelle, Pacific Northwest cuisine focused Portland restaurant that emphasizes 80-85% local ingredients. Dessert of coffee pudding with vanilla cream and shortbread cookies Quaintrelle, Pacific Northwest cuisine focused Portland restaurant that emphasizes 80-85% local ingredients. Dessert of olive oil cake with lemon curd, huckleberry, pistachios

Personally if I would recommend how to order, get as much as you can from the Start and the Vegetables portions of the menu – not that the Meat and Fish section is lacking, but I think having the vegetables be more of the stars instead of meat and fish is what makes the restaurant special.

Have you been to Quaintrelle? What’s your favorite vegetable that you want to see as a star of a dish?

Quaintrelle Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclosure: I was invited to a media dinner where I was able to try these dishes with others for a taste, but I was not compensated or asked to write this post, I just liked liked I experienced and wanted to share. I will always provide my honest opinion and assessment of all products and experiences I may be given. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own

 

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Pasta in a Cheese Wheel in LA

Travel Tuesday is back, thanks to a recent trip to LA. These trips have been to visit family, so I prioritized being able to spend as much time with family, particularly my new niece who turns 6 months old at the end of March, and her schedule of feedings and naps. Generally this meant food at home via delivery or take out and leftovers from lunch – and I try to keep my asks reasonable at maybe 2 restaurants I want to try out each visit. Recently, the big one on my list was to eat pasta in a cheese wheel, which I found is offered at lunch and dinner at Forma Restaurant in Santa Monica.

Forma is named after cheese and all about the cheese. Their cheese bar offers more then 50 cheeses, breaking up the cheese sectiosn based on hardness (soft ripened, washed rind, semi-soft, semi-hard) and a whole section for just truffled cheese (cheese with white or black truffle). They have a few US cheeses from California, Vermont, Wisconsin, New York, and Oregon, but most are imported from Italy, France, Holland, England and Spain. This does not count the fresh cheeses like burrata and the mozzarella knots that you can also find in their small plates section. Of course I got burrata. This is the Burrata Stracciata with creamy burrata, prosciutto, plum ad citrus conserva, and micro basil.
Forma Restaurant offers an impressive cheese bar with more then 50 cheeses, a few from the US but mostly from France, Italy, Spain, England, and Holland, but also a few fresh cheeses not part of that 50 count on their small plates menu such as mozzarella knots or this dish of Burrata Stracciata with creamy burrata, prosciutto, plum ad citrus conserva, and micro basil

We ordered another starter of Filet Mignon Tartare, a dish of avocado, fresno chile pepper, capers, shallot, parmigiano, on grilled bread. I was really happy to see them go to the cheese bar in the back to freshly shave the parmigiano from the cheese wheel and bury these toasts in them!
At Forma Restaurant Filet Mignon Tartare, a dish of avocado, fresno chile pepper, capers, shallot, parmigiano, on grilled bread. I was really happy to see them go to the cheese bar in the back to freshly shave the parmigiano from the cheese wheel and bury these toasts in them

Besides the expert cheese selections, Forma Restaurant also offers something really unique: a few pastas served Dalla Forma. This is where freshly cooked pasta is then finished in large cheese wheels prior to being served by someone grating cheese and mixing it all up in melty goodness in the cheese wheel.
Besides the expert cheese selections, Forma Restaurant also offers something really unique: a few pastas served Dalla Forma. This is where freshly cooked pasta is then finished in large cheese wheels prior to being served by someone grating cheese and mixing it in the cheese wheel. Besides the expert cheese selections, Forma Restaurant also offers something really unique: a few pastas served Dalla Forma. This is where freshly cooked pasta is then finished in large cheese wheels prior to being served by someone grating cheese and mixing it in the cheese wheel.

They don’t do this tableside as the restaurant is too intimate for the requisite cart to lug the cheese wheel from table to table to do so, but there is an open view of the cheese bar in the back and you can totally go up to watch the cheese magic happen like I did.
Besides the expert cheese selections, Forma Restaurant also offers something really unique: a few pastas served Dalla Forma. This is where freshly cooked pasta is then finished in large cheese wheels prior to being served by someone grating cheese and mixing it in the cheese wheel. Besides the expert cheese selections, Forma Restaurant also offers something really unique: a few pastas served Dalla Forma. This is where freshly cooked pasta is then finished in large cheese wheels prior to being served by someone grating cheese and mixing it in the cheese wheel.

In terms of the pasta in the Dalla Forma section, there are four options:

  • Chitarra Cacio E Pepe, a dish with home made spaghetti, black pepper, extra virgin olive oil tossed in pecorino romano cheese
  • Fettucini Bolognese, a fettucini pasta in beef ragu tossed with butter in parmigiano reggiano cheese
  • Risotto Milanese, a risotto dish with rice, saffron, and veal ossobuco then tossed in grana padano cheese
  • Tortellini, a dish of tortellini pasta with mushrooms, light cream, truffle oil then tossed with bella lodi cheese

Besides the expert cheese selections, Forma Restaurant also offers something really unique: a few pastas served Dalla Forma. This is where freshly cooked pasta is then finished in large cheese wheels prior to being served by someone grating cheese and mixing it in the cheese wheel. Besides the expert cheese selections, Forma Restaurant also offers something really unique: a few pastas served Dalla Forma. This is where freshly cooked pasta is then finished in large cheese wheels prior to being served by someone grating cheese and mixing it in the cheese wheel.
We ordered the first and last on that list, as these two  were vegetarian so one of my sisters (who is vegetarian) could also eat it. I also kept in mind and controlled my gluttony to leave room for a visit we would be making after this lunch to a friend’s place where we knew there would be some home-cooked Thai food. But I’ll gladly be back again for more, especially that truffled cheese section.

Here are the Chitarra Cacio E Pepe dish of homemade spaghetti, black pepper, extra virgin olive oil tossed in pecorino romano cheese and the Tortellini pasta with mushrooms, light cream, truffle oil then tossed with bella lodi cheese, once plated. The tortellini pasta doesn’t look like much visually but the pasta itself stuffed with cheese and mushrooms inside were my favorite, while I wish there had been a lot more pepper in the cacio e pepe.
Forma Restaurant also offers something really unique: a few pastas served Dalla Forma. This is where freshly cooked pasta is then finished in large cheese wheels prior to being served by someone grating cheese and mixing it in the cheese wheel.. This is the Chitarra Cacio E Pepe dish of homemade spaghetti, black pepper, extra virgin olive oil tossed in pecorino romano cheese once plated. Forma Restaurant also offers something really unique: a few pastas served Dalla Forma. This is where freshly cooked pasta is then finished in large cheese wheels prior to being served by someone grating cheese and mixing it in the cheese wheel.. This is the Tortellini pasta with mushrooms, light cream, truffle oil then tossed with bella lodi cheese, once plated.

We also tried the Trofie Al Pesto, a dish of fresh pasta, basil pesto, vegetables, pine nuts, parmigiano cheese (my other sister, the mother of my niece, is a pesto lover!) , and shared a dessert dish of the bombolone alla crema with chocolate sauce, which the waiter described as a bit like an Italian jelly doughnut, but was decidedly much better then a jelly doughnut. Although it is fried it isn’t as sickly sweet to me as most doughnuts on the outside or the creamy inside.
Forma Restaurant main dish of Trofie Al Pesto, a dish of fresh pasta, basil pesto, vegetables, pine nuts, parmigiano cheese Forma Restaurant dessert dish of the bombolone alla crema with chocolate sauce Forma Restaurant dessert dish of the bombolone alla crema with chocolate sauce

Have you ever heard of pasta in a cheese bowl before, which of the four dalla forma pastas would you have picked? What’s your favorite pasta usually?

Forma Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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