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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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