A recent dinner at Higgins Restaurant was a revisit of how smooth the experience was, from the high quality food to the high quality service. As you would expect from one of the founding pioneer restaurants that defined Northwest cuisine by emphasizing the local seasonal ingredients available regionally here and is a strong supporter and promoter of sustainable cuisine, the food here changes often based on what is available and fresh. Yet, what I’m sharing below from our meal is typical of the kind of excellent experience you will have here.
You notice the focus on celebrating freshness and the best ingredients right away with even the bread service, which comes with perfect bread- crusty crunchy on the outside, soft and doughy on the inside- that you can enjoy with organic extra virgin olive oil.
Try to start with the famous Charcuterie board of artisanal cured meats and pickles. It’s justifiably reknown – it superb in offering an array of flavors and textures upon its giant marble board, as what you would expect when you hear Chef Greg Higgins has loved charcuterie since he was a boy and has books in his library on charcuterie that daties even to the 17th and 18th centuries.
I was supposed to come in for Portland Dining Month to try the special menu they were offering, but was persuaded away as soon as I heard the specials. I started with the first special appetizer of Mushroom risotto balls with truffle and hedgehog mushrooms that came with fresh greens that only needed the barest whisper of dressing. The greens tasted as if they were just picked and cleaned just an hour or so before. It really embodies the spirit of what Higgins is all about.
My special entree was the Pork Schnitzel, served with cauliflower and cheddar polenta and broccoli rabe. It was as gigantic as it looks, turning into dinner that night and the next. The next day it was wonderful to be able to look forward to going home after work to finish off the other half of this entree.
One of the great things about Higgins is not only their great beer and wine selection so that I can enjoy fine wine while he enjoys fine beer paired with our dishes (they even have both a wine and beer sommelier), but we appreciate that they always have 2 vegetarian options to choose from. This night it was the Chickpea crepe with Mughal shiitake & oyster mushroom curry, garbanzo bean salad, horseradish tofu sauce and toasted almonds. Just as it sounds, it had great flavor that meant you did not miss the meat at all, and is an equal rather than lesser entree to all the other dinner entree options.
Higgins restaurant is an enduring Portland classic for a reason, and continues to execute and service beautifully, showcasing Northwest Cuisine reliably and always dependable for a refined meal. Dining here is much like listening to a classical music piece – timeless fine dining.
As an aside, Higgins also just announced their “Spring Tribute” menu for April 29 through May 1 (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) during their 5-9pm dinner service. The Spring Tribute menu is a fundraiser towards the James Beard Public Market, a vision towards making a daily year-round farmers market along the Portland waterfront, sorta similar to Pike Place Market in Seattle (Chef Greg Higgins is a board member of the JBPM).
The menu is offering five courses featuring James Beard’s own recipes for dishes like Sorrel soup with Fireside oysters, Asparagus in Ambush, Baked Oregon Chinook with Dungeness Crab, Bay Shrimp and applewood smoked bacon, Roasted Champoeg Farms pastured chicken stuffed with Coteghino sausage, and Warm Rhubarb Grunt with French vanilla ice cream. Geez, that sounds good. Wine pairings from Basel Cellars, Willamette Valley Vineyard, Broadley, and Northstar will round out the meal. Reservations are $125, which includes wines and gratuity. For reservations call (503) 222-9070.