I was pleased to see Quartet on the list for Portland Dining Month, as it is a restaurant that is relatively new on the Portland dining scene as it just opened in February. It is located on the South Waterfront, with views of the Willamette River and depending on where you are sitting, several famous Portland bridge (most recognizably Hawthorne Bridge- this post from Portland Travel Tips highlights Portland bridges) or even Mount Hood. The dining room is spectacular, something that fits right in with the fine dining restaurant in one of the big cities like Chicago, New York- specifically this space reminded me a lot of Spiaggia.
The scale of the ceiling to where you are seated in plush chairs is impressive, and one wall of the restaurant is essentially all glass to showcase the waterfront and city viewing. A small moat/river and waterfall runs through dividing the bar area from the dining area. Where we were seated, we were right next to a baby grand piano that you can tell is used to provide live music, though not on the evening we dined. You can tell this is a multi-million dollar space.
The service was smooth and very professional, which stands out in a city where mostly the waitstaff takes a more casual approach to serving its guests, as befits a more casual dining culture. Quartet aims for a more formal dining experience that is refined and takes advantage of the palatial atmosphere. That is one of the reasons I haven’t visited- it really felt like a special occasion type of place, one where we would be completely comfortable dressing up- and most people we saw were dressed more fashionably than I normally see. Despite asking about it a few times this month, F had sprung the 5:45pm invitation/reservation on me after I had already left for work, and I wished I had known beforehand so I could have dressed up a bit, such as worn a summer dress. Although we were not treated differently, both of us felt under-dressed , particularly me trying to hide the fact I was wearing my Nikes for all my walking and jeans under the tablecloth. Meanwhile, F noted on his Foursquare checkin “Way too nice looking in here for the likes of me.”
I started with a spicy drink, the cocktail called “The Strand” with Serrano infused Tequila Avion, fresh grapefruit
Q Salad – blended greens, jicama, Cajun pumpkin seeds, lemon-honey-Dijon dressing. It looked nice, but did not seem anything special to me- it could have been from anywhere, and certainly would not have been what I guessed was from a high end restaurant. I could barely detect any dressing at all had been added. I felt mixed. I wanted it to work so much because of the ambiance, yet felt a bit let down, and wasn’t sure whether it was because it was bad day in the kitchen and someone just didn’t dress my salad.
This was then followed by a lemon sorbet palate cleanser, whose tartness was really refreshing. This brought me back into the fine dining mindset that had been established with that roll and flavored butter, ahh.
4 options here, including the vegetarian Butternut squash and Gorgonzola raviolis – hazelnut asparagus, arugula, tomato confit, Pecorino Tartufo, Vincotto, and my choice which was the Flank steak with braised baby bok choy, whipped Yukon Potato mash.
- Butternut squash and Gorgonzola raviolis with hazelnut asparagus, arugula, tomato confit, Pecorino Tartufo, Vincotto
- Flank steak with braised baby bok choy, whipped Yukon Potato mash
- Pan-roasted chicken breast with fried Brussels sprouts, goat cheese-chive grits, cranberries, toast hazelnuts, maple-vinegar sauce
- Jade halibut – fried vegetable sushi du jour, yuzu ponzu, ginger-scallion slaw
Both our dishes were beautifully presented, and tasted as fine as they looked.
Not everything was well though- the miss was definitely an extra side dish I ordered, the Yukon Gold potatoes au gratin with gorgonzola which were a creamy mess. The au gratin that had created the craving for me to order it again, from Urban Fondue, was half the price and 3 times better.
Key lime pie with fresh berries was decent but nothing that was particularly memorable for me, not sure whether my previous experience with Florida key lime pies has spoiled me so tart I am salivating as I eat them (sounds weird, but it just means it’s soooo good).
You still have one more week to enjoy Portland Dining Month, so snap up this chance to dine at Quartet- usually the entree prices alone are regularly the price of what Portland Dining Month’s 3 courses for $29 nets you. Come get your fancy fine dining at a unique for Portland high end romantic atmosphere, all at an affordable price while it lasts. Make your Portland Dining Month reservations via OpenTable so that Downtown Portland will also make a donation to the Oregon Food Bank if you go this month! Remember, Portland Dining Month only lasts until the end of June!