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
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Portland Dining Month 2017

I’ve written about Portland Dining month for many years. It is that one of time year where you have a month – a whole month!! some cities only get a week!! – to go out to help support local businesses AND to try lots of restaurants at a discount from what is often on their regular menu or with special limited time dishes. That’s because the Portland Dining Month menu at every participating offers a Prix Fixe $29 for 3 courses – and in some cases some restaurants throw in a little extra. Portland Dining Month 2017 falls March 1 – 31st, so it starts tomorrow.

Accanto: second course of a chilled potato leek soup Accanto: potato gnocchi, lamb bolognese, mint and pecorino Accanto: Rose panna cotta with strawberries and lambrusco
Three course dinner from Accanto in a previous Portland Dining Month year. Make your opentable reservation here

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A Look at Muselet Portland

Muselet has closed

In the South Waterfront, a restaurant named Muselet (a muselet is the wire that holds the cork and that you twist off to open a Champagne bottle – it’s pronounced “Muse-LAY”) opened in May last year, and has been a hidden dining destination gem. I felt like it was my duty to share this secret with you.

While Muselet may or may not be new to you, it has already racked up many awards by those who are in the know. It is listed on OpenTable’s online reservation site by diners as among the Top 10 Best Overall Restaurants in Portland as well as Top 10 Best Service in Portland and Top 10 Best Ambiance in Portland. You know they are serious about wine as soon as you walk through the front door and see this gorgeous light fixture and all those wine glasses all lined up for service that night…
Muselet Portland

And then there’s this:

Muselet Foie gras terrine, apple, salted brown butter, ginger tuile
Foie gras terrine, apple, salted brown butter, ginger tuile

When I first saw the above dish of Foie gras terrine, apple, salted brown butter, ginger tuile get set down, I wondered if it was dessert, it was plated so beautifully. But then when I took that bite and got all those flavors… Well, it’s still wonderful enough for dessert in its decadence and creamy texture that brings together rich savory with a hint of sweet.  I loved the additional textures bringing an extra level to this dish. In fact it’s actually on the dessert menu too, not just the dinner menu. It’s so rich, and so perfect with a flight of sparkling… You will feel like a million bucks.

Meanwhile, the #1 reason to rush down to Muselet ASAP right now – RIGHT NOW – is the Porridge with warm yolk, trout roe, and chive. Ron recommends pairing it with options such as Alsatian Single Vineyard Riesling, Domain Picq Single Vineyard Chablis from Bussieres in Burgundy, or Martino 2011 Old Vine Pedro Ximenez Blanc from Mendoza, Argentina. All sounds like win to me.
Muselet Porridge with warm yolk, trout roe, chive

As soon as I saw porridge on the menu I thought “how ballsy, they are offering porridge as a restaurant dish”. But those who have experienced know it’s a home run and a must not miss dish.  It’s a striking marriage of Muselet Owner Ron Acierto’s nostalgia for his Filipino roots of bone-warming heartiness and Executive Chef Greg Zanotti’s take of modern and eclectic, combining classic technique and progressive preparation with art of plating.

But, it’s only available for a short period of time – Chef Greg warns he’ll pull it off from the menu as soon as the weather is better because it’s too rich for the sun. So hurry in while it’s on the menu right now.

Not only that, for the month of March 2016 only for Portland Dining Month, they are offering a jaw dropping dinner option for the $29 – but instead of 3 courses you get 6 dishes! You can also add wine pairings for your courses for an additional $25. Their Portland Dining Month menu just for March includes

  • steelhead beet, brassicas, orange
  • pear burrata, kale, arugula, pecan-pistou
    Muselet Portland's pear burrata, kale, arugula, pecan-pistou "Muselet
  • bread alex’s parker house rolls, house cultured butter, maldon
  • charcuterie chicken liver mousse, cotechino, mustard, pickles
  • beets feta, yogurt, fermented garlic
    Muselet Beets with feta, yogurt, fermented garlic
  • pork coppa wild onion, hop aioli, leek fondue

I tell you, that list of six dishes for that price is a heist you should check out. But come hungry, and even with the Portland Dining Month menu, you should get that porridge while it’s in season. Somehow, even though you are getting six shared courses for the bargain price of $29, I think you will rise to the challenge of eating that porridge after you try your first comforting spoonful.

And, somehow still also save room for dessert: oh, this gorgetous, fun dessert. Everyone will jealously turn and wonder what you are enjoying, and they SHOULD be jealous of this Goat’s Milk Custard with streusel, wild blackberry, and cajeta. This dessert is also just simply known as Bubbles. Ron explains the dish was invented because he “In the beginning, I asked Greg to create a dessert that was quirky, delicious and would make guests smile. This one is like fireworks for your sweet tooth. It’s funny, the recipe is running in a future ‘1859’ magazine issue… it calls for ‘a small aquarium pump.’”
Muselet Bubbles Dessert of Dessert of Goat's Milk Custard with streusel, wild blackberry, and cajeta Muselet Bubbles Dessert of Dessert of Goat's Milk Custard with streusel, wild blackberry, and cajeta
A look when first placed on the table and basically 60 seconds later after the first photo was taken under the bubbles….

If you return after Portland Dining Month, besides the porridge and Bubbles dessert (and perhaps the foie gras either as appetizer or dessert…), you might consider splurging on the Wagyu Culotte with short rib and mushroom duxelle. This dish is perfectly cooked meat butter, tender without being too fatty. Paired by Ron with 2007 Hawk’s View Cellars Pinot Noir, the pairing is fit for royalty – seriously it wouldn’t look out of place as the dinner plate while in a ballgown and wearing diamonds.
Muselet Wagyu Culotte with short rib, mushroom duxelle

There are multiple options in Portland for oyster, but Muselet sets apart their oyster dish with its half a dozen shigoku with blood orange mignonette that you can enjoy with champagne or sparkling – such as Maysara Pinot Noir Brut Rose. Little trivia: Muselet was the first to pour Maysara Winery Pinot Noir Brut Rose in the area, and the wine is only available at the winery for their wedding events.
There are multiple options in Portland for oyster, but Muselet stands out with its Half a dozen shigoku with blood orange mignonette that you can enjoy with champagne or sparkling - such as Maysara Pinot Noir Brut Rose (Muselet was the first to pour Maysara Winery Pinot Noir Brut Rose in the area, and the wine is only available at the winery for their wedding events)

Definitely get a sparkling wine when you visit – or any wine. Wines are a huge draw to visit Muselet, since it is listed as one of Wine Enthusiast’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants in America for 2015, is one of the Oregon Wine A-List Award winners 2016 and is rated on OpenTable’s online reservation site by diners as among the Top 10 Most Notable Wine Lists for Portland / Oregon.

The Muselet wine list features 50+ Champagne (small production ‘grower’ wines) and sparkling wines, local urban wineries, and many Oregon Pinot Noirs. They offer a rotating selection of over 30 wines by the glass and more than 300 by the bottle, as well as numerous wine flights. Any wine by the glass can also be ordered as half glass, so you could make your own flight or ask Ron to pair with whatever you’d like.
Flight of sparkling wine, one of two flights you can choose from at Muselet

Ron has been developing friendships with winemakers and producers in the Willamette Valley since 2004, and expanded during his past experience managing restaurants with relationships with wine sales reps, importers and distributors.

“The key for me is to truly understand their vision and passion, and to show them the respect I have for their product. I get really excited and I love introducing guests to wines that have been made with passion, where the winemakers are caught up in the romance of their craft. It’s been fun to get to know the winemaking sons and daughters of the ‘Papas of Pinot’ who started it all.” says Ron.

The payoff for you as the customer is access to some wines that are exclusive just to Muselet, or that somehow Ron found that are local and super small that you might not find them anywhere else.

Domaine Drouhin only started making Pinot Noir Rose for their tasting room in 2010. Muselet owner Ron Acierto was able to acquire a few cases of their first Roses for Jory. Because he nurtured a relationship, he is also currently the only restaurant in Portland to serve their 2014 Rose. Their production is so small, their distributor is only able to place it selectively because there is not enough wine for a public release.There are only 2 cases left of the 2014 and it is only available at Muselet.
Domaine Drouhin only started making Pinot Noir Rose for their tasting room in 2010. Their production is so small, their distributor is only able to place it selectively because there is not enough wine for a public release. There are only 2 cases left of the 2014 and it is only available at Muselet.

In fact, at Muselet they hold weekly complimentary no purchase necessary wine tasting series in their lounge every Saturday from 5 – 6:30 PM.  A winery expert will be on hand during every tasting to answer questions about each wine. The featured wines will be available for guests to purchase by the glass to enjoy at the bar, purchase a bottle to take home, or can be enjoyed as a custom wine pairing with their meal. The current upcoming schedule includes

  • March 26 Fullerton Wines: Distinctive Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays.
  • April 2 Owen Roe: Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Oregon Pinot Noir, Washington Red.
  • April 9 Le Cadeau | Exclusively estate grown Oregon Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay
    Aubichon Wines | Oregon Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay
  • April 23 Ian Burrows of Consulon Wines | pouring wines from Boulay Wine Company, Swick Wines, and Guillén Family Wines
  • April 30 Jackalope Wines | Craft Nortwest Pinot Noir, Viognier, and Cabernet Franc
    Helioterra | Pinot Noir, Mourvédre, Pinot Blanc, Syrah, Arneis, Melon de Bourgogne, Rosé of Pinot Noir, and Riesling
  • The schedule will continually be updated and can be found at Muselet’s website

Ron explains “We like to think of ourselves as the ‘concierge of the Oregon wine country.’ We are able to customize wine pairing perfectly for every dish, plus provide some unknown wine varietals for non-traditional wine pairings. Imagine, instead of having to choose one or two bottles of wine for a meal, you can have a small pour of the wine that perfectly complements your dish.”

Here’s a look at a few other dishes on the current menu, which will change seasonally:

  • Beef tartare remoulade, dulse, vinegar chip (part of their bar/soirée menu which is what they have dubbed happy hour, available in the bar/lounge only)
  • Mille Fuille with creme, dulse, smoked cod
  • Cured Hamachi, pea, hibiscus, avocado. I marveled at every bite of that dehydrated yuzu (tofu skin) with pea in how it was a perfect addition of subtle flavor and great texture to go with that hamachi – I even was trying to separate it from that photogenic hibiscus sauce to try to focus on the perfect hamachi and yuzu pea combo.
  • Turnip with beurre monte, pickled shallot, trout roe, sake lees
  • Sunchoke with mole poblano, persian cress
  • Scallop with pork rind and red eye gravy
    Muselet Beef tartare remoulade, dulse, vinegar chip Muselet Potato Mille Fuille with creme, dulse, smoked cod Muselet Cured Hamachi, pea, hibiscus, avocado Muselet Turnip with beurre monte, pickled shallot, trout roe, sake lees Muselet Sunchoke with mole poblano, persian cress Muselet Scallop with pork rind and red eye gravy

So I think you’ve gotten the gist here: spectacular food and wine. But did you notice I mentioned feeling like a million bucks, or feeling like royalty too? That’s because the biggest impression I had from Muselet is white glove service without the formality but all the elegance and class. Ron is incredibly enthusiastic about the dining experience, and he knows it includes what is on your plate and in your glass, but also beyond that in how you are treated from start to finish.

The people at Muselet are dedicated to making each guest feel like a VIP, and genuinely want to welcome you the moment you step in, take care of you with an eye on every detail, and make sure you know you are valued and that you leave happy. You’ll feel like you had a high class dinner but everything is approachable and without the matching high class price tag. In a city where service is often casual, it’s feels so special to be pampered like at Muselet.

Which of these dishes at Muselet is attracting your eye?

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

Disclosure: I attended a complimentary shared blogger meal, but I also returned on my own and on my own dime. 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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Portland Dining Month 2016 Review

Here’s a look at some of the $29 for 3 courses Portland Dining Month 2016 meals I’ve enjoyed so far. All of these restaurants in this Portland Dining Month 2016 Review are from the list I shared last week of my top picks from the Portland Dining Month list. This is the order I happened to dine at them…

Portland Dining Month in March 2016

Clyde Common

What I really like about Clyde Common‘s options is how it’s a mashup of Northwest goodness with a little bit of a hint of Filipino influence, which is a unique perspective. And those lumpia, which I’ve had before, keep bringing me back, along with the cocktails. Seriously, the lumpia are such an awesome match to alcohol, and every time I see my fellow bar patrons going for the fries (though they are perfectly crispy!) instead of lumpia, I see it as such a missed opportunity. I’ve been visiting the Clyde Common bar for years, but since Chef Carlos Lamagna took over the kitchen I’ve been going more often for lunch and dinner because the food options are now just as compelling as their award winning cocktail program at the bar (OpenTable rez avail). Dinner service starts at 6 PM.

  1. First course: Pork and shiitake lumpia with house sweet and sour sauce and spicy greens. I think I’ve already told you what I think of the lumpia earlier… <3
    Clyde Common Portland Dining Month 2016 First course: Pork and shiitake lumpia with house sweet and sour sauce and spicy greens
  2. Second course: Preserved ramp butter risotto with grana padano, chili oil and chicken chicharrónes. I liked the dish but wished for a little bit more chili oil to help brighten up the richness of the risotto.
    Clyde Common Portland Dining Month 2016 Second course: Preserved ramp butter risotto with grana padano, chili oil and chicken chicharrónes Clyde Common Portland Dining Month 2016 Second course: Preserved ramp butter risotto with grana padano, chili oil and chicken chicharrónes
  3. Third course: Local bee honey panna cotta with chèvre whipped cream, mixed berry jam and candied pine nuts. So good, a great play of textures with the creamy and the jammy and crunchy and sticky in a perfect proportion in every spoonful.
    Clyde Common Portland Dining Month 2016 Third course: Local bee honey panna cotta with chèvre whipped cream, mixed berry jam and candied pine nuts Clyde Common Portland Dining Month 2016 Third course: Local bee honey panna cotta with chèvre whipped cream, mixed berry jam and candied pine nuts

 

Ataula

Ataula for Catalan (Spanish) cuisine by James Beard 2016 nominee for Best Chef Northwest Jose Chesa is a must visit with this deal. The first two tapas together are usually worth $19 and a full version by itself of the third course dish is usually $34 and for two people, so I was happy that now there is a smaller portion option so you can try this paella (ha ha and then you can justify ordering another full size one if you wish to try two paellas, or a lot more tapas… muahaha). And, you get dessert with a warm fresh doughnut! Ataula opens for dinner (no reservations except for parties larger than 6 people) at 4:30 PM Tues-Sat.

  1. First course: Pulpo octopus carpaccio with sun-dried tomato, Parmigiano-Reggiano, pine nuts and pickled cipollini onions
    Ataula Portland Dining Month 2016 1st course: Pulpo octopus carpaccio with sun-dried tomato, Parmigiano-Reggiano, pine nuts and pickled cipollini onions Ataula Portland Dining Month 2016 1st course: Pulpo octopus carpaccio with sun-dried tomato, Parmigiano-Reggiano, pine nuts and pickled cipollini onions
  2. Second course: Tortilla de patatas con bellota with farm eggs, confit potatoes, onions and 4-year cured ibérico ham
    Ataula Portland Dining Month 2016 Second course: Tortilla de patatas con bellota with farm eggs, confit potatoes, onions and 4-year cured ibérico ham
  3. Third course: Mini rossejat negre with toasted noodles, calamari, squid ink, sofrito and harissa aioli. Instead of a pan that can feed 2-6 like their normal size, this one is individually sized (or two if you order more tapas!) I’m a cute mini pan.
    Ataula Portland Dining Month 2016 3rd course: Mini rossejat negre with toasted noodles, calamari, squid ink, sofrito and harissa aioli
  4. Fourth course: Doughnut, brioche, spiced sugar as a perfect ending
    Atula freebie fourth course for Portland Dining Month 2016 (3 courses for $29) of a Doughnut, brioche, spiced sugar

 

Willow

Willow is just opening in March right now, but they are participating in Portland Dining Month! They don’t have a regular menu available – this is their only menu for the month before shifting to their 6 course tasting menu in April, so here’s your chance to try them out on a smaller scale. Though when I say that, their 3 courses for $29 also included an amuse bouche, intermezzo palate cleanser, and a little coffee with tiny snack, so is that really 3 courses?

They are working using the Tock reservation system that automatically has you pay for the meal and tip in advance, and you have a choice of whether to also order ahead a beverage pairing whether alcoholic or non-alcoholic. They are open Tues-Sat with seatings at 6 PM, 8 PM, or 10 PM. You need to get there pretty much on time because of these seatings because they serve all the dishes at once to all the guests when proceeding through the courses. When you arrive, it’s almost like you are at a supper club at someone’s sophisticated apartment – they have a lounge area for you to wait in until they are ready to seat you.
Willow PDX - waiting area before being seated at the chef's counter Willow PDX - waiting area before being seated at the chef's counter

There is also a living room of sorts that later after dinner you can be served coffee. Their small chef’s counter for the meal almost feels like you are setting at a friend’s bar – it is intimate, seating only 10 people, and easy to converse with fellow dining friends.
Willow PDX - lounge area where later we would have our after dinner coffee and snack Willow PDX - lounge area where later we would have our after dinner coffee and snack Willow PDX - lounge area where later we would have our after dinner coffee and snack Willow PDX - lounge area where later we would have our after dinner coffee and snack Willow PDX - lounge area where later we would have our after dinner coffee and snack Chef's Counter of Willow PDX

Their Portland Dining Month food menu for the month (since you get no choice – though they can accomodate some special diets within reason – for instance the person next to me had a vegetarian meal – the Short Rib steak was switched out for Kabocha Squash steak instead) are

    1. Amuse-Bouche: Itty Bitty McMuffin with squash glaze, egg yolk, dehydrated kale, their own mini muffin
      Willow PDX Portland Dining Month menu 2016 - starter snack of a amuse bouche of an Itty Bitty McMuffing with squash glaze, egg yolk, dehydrated kale, their own mini muffin
    2. First course: Cream of celery root soup with charred roots and thyme. It was first placed before the broth was added so we could admire the wonderful textures of the celery root prepared 4 ways including hay roasted and pickled, and they took advantage of as much of the whole product as they can by including the celery leaf as an ingredient here as well as in the broth. The hay used to roast the celery root also was combined with grapeseed and hazelnut oil to make the hay oil, and there were little bits of hazelnut. I loved the various layers of flavor so that every spoonful was a little different depending on what preparation of celery you may have in your scoop, and really great variety of texture.
      Willow PDX Portland Dining Month menu 2016 - first course of cream of celery root soup with hay roasted celery root, as well as the celery root prepared 3 other ways including pickled - celery leaf, hay oil, hazelnut. This is before the broth is poured Willow PDX Portland Dining Month menu 2016 - first course of cream of celery root soup with hay roasted celery root, as well as the celery root prepared 3 other ways including pickled - celery leaf, hay oil, hazelnut. This is before the broth is poured Willow PDX Portland Dining Month menu 2016 - first course of cream of celery root soup with hay roasted celery root, as well as the celery root prepared 3 other ways including pickled - celery leaf, hay oil, hazelnut. This is before the broth is poured
    3. Second course (choose one): Short rib steak with glazed vegetables, potato and sauce bordelaise or Cauliflower steak with glazed vegetables, potato and sauce bordelaise. Wow, that steak was rich and melt in your mouth, I was cutting very small pieces just savoring it.
      Willow PDX Portland Dining Month menu 2016 - second course of short rib steak with glazed vegetables, porato puree, and sauce bordelaise
    4. Intermezzo: Cilantro ice cream and yogurt. I loved how rich that yogurt was! I need Chef Doug Weiler to tell me where he sourced this from again it was so creamy and thick.
      Willow PDX Portland Dining Month menu 2016 - intermezzo of a cilantro ice cream with yogurt
    5. Third course: Chocolate cake s’more with meringue and graham cracker – this translates into a very dense chocolate cake with with praline, just toasted meringue with a huge flame by Chef John Pickett, graham, and with the best wine pairing of the night a Burmester 10 year Tawny Port from Portugal.
      Willow PDX Portland Dining Month menu 2016 - third course of chocolate cake with praline, toasted meringue, graham, with the best pairing of the night a Burmester 10 year Tawny Port from Portugal to go with the dense chocolate cake Willow PDX Portland Dining Month menu 2016 - third course of chocolate cake with praline, toasted meringue, graham, with the best pairing of the night a Burmester 10 year Tawny Port from Portugal to go with the dense chocolate cake
    6. After Dinner Coffee and Snack
      Willow PDX Portland Dining Month menu 2016 - coffee service and snack Willow PDX Portland Dining Month menu 2016 - coffee service and snack

I had the wine pairing which included 2014 Franchere Gruner Veltliner, 2013 Santa Cristo Grenache, and Burmester 10 Year Tawny Port, but the non alcoholic pairing was very intriguing as well, as it included Apple and Celery Kvass, Mirepoix Sun Tea, and Sweetened Oat Milk. There were also a la carte beverages available including Fentiman’s Rose Lemonade or Dandelion & Burdock, Lurisia, Burnside Brewing Couch St Lager, pFriem Pilsner, and Breakside Brewing Wanderlust IPA.

I can’t wait to go back to try the 6 course format in the future at Willow!

 

You can see the full list of participating restaurants at the Portland Dining Month website.

Where have you eaten, or where are you planning to eat? What’s your Portland Dining Month 2016 Review so far of the participating restaurants you’ve been?

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My picks for Portland Dining Month 2016

It’s almost March (tomorrow! Where did February go, it flew by, even with the extra day!), which means it’s time for Portland Dining Month 2016 to begin! This is PDX Dining month’s 7th year. I’m glad to see they continue to make it a whole month long – did you know other cities that hold this type of special dinner menu special for a city last just a week? But we have all month – every day of the week for a whole 31 days! So I’m not sure I can accept your excuse on why you couldn’t make it to a single one all month long.
Portland Dining Month in March 2016

This year, a record-setting 122 restaurants will offer three-course dinners for $29 during Portland Dining Month 2016. Some restaurants are very specific on what your 3 courses will be – others provide options for each course, including sometimes vegetarian options. Still more may offer extra courses, or even a beer pairing or some restaurants awarded for their Oregon wine list may offer $15 wine pairings for each course. Pretty much all restaurants will always have their regular menu as well, so not everyone at the table has to eat the $29 prix fixe, so make it a date night, or family night, or catch up with friends.

When you visit, don’t be shy about asking for the Portland Dining Month 2016 menu if you don’t get it when you are seated as it may be a separate menu in addition to the regular menu.

Laurelhurst Market Portland Dining Month 2015 Laurelhurst Market menu and suggested beverages Laurelhurst Market Portland Dining Month 2015 second course of Ten-hour braised beef shoulder with potato pancake, warm oyster mushroom salad and beef jus

My visit to Laurelhurst Market for Portland Dining month in 2015

You dining out is also doing good for the world, not just for your tastebuds and as a reason to get together with others. Portland Dining Month is partnering with Oregon Food Bank to make a donation for every reservation booked through OpenTable links from the Portland Dining Month official website. You can see a list of OpenTable restaurants participating here for which you can make reservations online. For this blogpost, I used the same links if OpenTable was available for my top PDM picks for your convenience.

I usually will pick restaurants based on food options in their 3 courses that sound good, and then look at their regular menu to see if it is a good deal. It never ends up being less than $29 to order them a la carte if available, and some dishes are special for Dining Month, or you are getting an extra tremendous value on the price. Try upscale restaurants that have always been in your wishlist now like Imperial (OpenTable rez avail), Paley’s Place (OpenTable rez avail), Higgins (OpenTable rez avail),  Laurelhurst Market, Little Bird (OpenTable rez avail), the classic Ringside Steakhouse on Burnside (OpenTable rez avail)- whether it be the and such where usually again the entrees alone are in the mid 20 dollar range already.

Fogo de Chão grand opening - Linguica - cured pork sausage Little Bird Bistro's Chicken-Fried Trout, gribiche, fines herbes, radishes, pickled carrots Park Kitchen Milk braised pork with Your Kitchen Gardens leeks, curds and whey

Above, Portland Dining month options from Fogo de Chao (OpenTable rez avail), Little Bird (OpenTable rez avail), and Park Kitchen (OpenTable rez avail) – food shown is from previous years

Also on the list are hot spot restaurants like relatively new on the scene South American cuisine at LeChon (OpenTable rez avail), and already raved about Russian darling Kachka, smart Asian fusion smallwares (OpenTable rez avail), French fun at St Jack which is offering a vegetarian option too (OpenTable rez avail), and more!

Now is the time to visit that restaurant you’ve wanted to go to but haven’t been yet!  You should definitely check out the 3 course menu specials each one is offering to help narrow down from the bounty of choices.

I’ve mentioned already some of my top picks for Portland Dining Month 2016 above for you to check out. Here below are specifically the ones for consideration on my own personal To Eat in March list that stood out to me based on their menu options particular calling to me. Check back as I plan to go to at least one PDM dinner a week and recap them as I go.

  • You have no reason to keep saying you haven’t been to Ataula for Catalan (Spanish) cuisine by James Beard 2016 nominee for Best Chef Northwest Jose Chesa yet with this deal. The first two tapas together are usually worth $19 and a full version by itself of the third course dish is usually $34
    1. First course: Pulpo octopus carpaccio with sun-dried tomato, Parmigiano-Reggiano, pine nuts and pickled cipollini onions
    2. Second course: Tortilla de patatas con bellota with farm eggs, confit potatoes, onions and 4-year cured ibérico ham
    3. Third course: Mini rossejat negre with toasted noodles, calamari, squid ink, sofrito and harissa aioli
    4. Fourth!! : Doughnut, brioche, spiced sugar
  • Pono Farm Soul Kitchen with its mix of Japanese influence and sustainable Northwest meats from Pono Farm have been on my wish list for a while, and I finally am going to visit them in March. Their options for the Portland Dining Month 2016 menu include three options for first course or second course which sound really original in concept. (OpenTable rez avail)
    1. First course (choose one): Roasted golden and red Chiogga beet salad with wild greens, cherry-beet dressing and horseradish cream or Tempura soft-shell crab with hibiscus glaze, persimmon and pear salad with orange vinaigrette or Kakuni: 10-hour braised pork belly with sweet soy glaze, soft-boiled egg, apple and miner’s lettuce salad
    2. Second course (choose one): Market carrots, carrot purée, carrot vinaigrette, chrysanthemum, basil and walnut pesto or Mary’s free-range grilled chicken with chanterelles, frisée, black truffle sauce and red wine demi-glace or Sweet chili pork chop with roasted apples and mizuna salad
    3. Third course: Sake gelée of exotic fruits, yuzu froth and passion fruit cream
  • Willow is just opening in March right now, but they are participating in Portland Dining Month! Pretty brave to open to that guys. They won’t have a regular menu available though – this is their only menu for the month before shifting to their 6 course tasting menu in April, so here’s your chance to try them out on a smaller scale. Their food choices are
    1. First course: Cream of celery root soup with charred roots and thyme
    2. Second course (choose one): Short rib steak with glazed vegetables, potato and sauce bordelaise or Cauliflower steak with glazed vegetables, potato and sauce bordelaise
    3. Third course: Chocolate cake s’more with meringue and graham cracker
  • What I really like about Clyde Common‘s options is how it’s a mashup of Northwest goodness with a little bit of a hint of Filipino influence, which is a unique perspective. And those lumpia, which I’ve had before, keep bringing me back, along with the cocktails. I’ve been visiting the Clyde Common bar for years, but since Chef Carlos Lamagna took over the kitchen I’ve been going more often for lunch and dinner because the food options are now just as compelling as their award winning cocktail program at the bar. (OpenTable rez avail)
    1. First course:Pork and shiitake lumpia with house sweet and sour sauce and spicy greens (shown below is a multiple order plate of lumpia)
    2. Second course: Preserved ramp butter risotto with grana padano, chili oil and chicken chicharrónes
    3. Third course: Local bee honey panna cotta with chèvre whipped cream, mixed berry jam and candied pine nuts
      Clyde Common interior, taken from the 2nd floor Clyde Common dinner and happy hour dish pork and shitake lumpia
  • I really like how classic Northwest cuisine Park Kitchen gives you their famous chickpea fries and three options each for the other two savory courses that sounds really fascinating in its flavor combinations.  (OpenTable rez avail)
    1. First course: Chickpea fries with roasted squash ketchup
      Park Kitchen's Chickpea fries with pumpkin ketchup
    2. Second course (choose one): Ayer’s Creek barley with smoked beets and pomegranate or Blood orange with radish, pumpernickel and crème fraîche or Charred carrot with black olive, pecans and carrot tops
    3. Third course (choose one): Ayer’s Creek adzuki bean cake with braised collard greens and popcorn sauce or Blackened steelhead with cauliflower grits and watercress or Grilled Maupin Farm’s ham with Anthony’s garbanzo beans and green olives
  • Go visit Biwa if my Tuesday Japan travel posts have given you a Japanese craving, as they are offering
    1. First course of Sashimi moriawase, a selection of today’s sashimi dishes, including ocean trout with Deschutes Black Butte Porter shoyu (usually this option alone is $26 on their regular menu!)
    2. Second course of Otsumami and kushiyaki, many small dishes of varied and delightful snacks and grilled skewers
    3. Third course of Smoky miso vegetable soup
  • I love Aviary during dining month (ok, maybe every month. Chef Sarah Pliner is also a James Beard 2015 and 2016 nominee for Best Chef Northwest). Particularly for March though theiir dining month menu is always are a good deal (their entree usually is $23) and they always offer a special one off dish as part of their menu. And don’t forget their bread with bagna cauda is complimentary starter. I think pretty much every PDM every year I stop at Aviary! (OpenTable rez avail)
    complimentary bread service at Aviary is wonderful as instead of just bread with butter, they offered a bagna cauda (butter, garlic, anchovies) for dipping the bread. Obviously because this has anchovies it's not vegetarian so if that's important to you, you'll have to pass on the dip. One of the two breads on the plate was an olive bread.

    1. First course (choose one): Braised beef cheek dumpling of egg yolk, jicama, cucumber and peanuts or
      Prawn salad with snap peas, coconut, Cara Cara oranges, jalapeño and taro root crisp
    2. Second course (choose one): Red cooked kurobuta pork short rib with rutabaga, enoki mushrooms, fish sauce and pickled Thai chiles or Pineapple curry with glazed skate wing, Manila clams, cranberry beans, maitake mushrooms and sea beans
    3. Third course (choose one): Pistachio dacquoise yogurt mousse and grapefruit sorbet or Chocolate cremeux cake with passion fruit and crispy rice
  • Acadia, a New Orleans Bistro, is offering  (photos are from a previous visit of the shrimp and sheepshead – which is a fish btw. I remember with that shrimp I went back to the bowl and spooned the sauce right onto my bread. If you haven’t been here yet, get yourself here as I am putting this on my list even though I’ve had these dishes before because they are just that good.) Treat yourself to some different flavors then the norm with the bright Creole cuisine here.
    1. First course of Louisiana barbecue shrimp with lemon, black pepper, white wine and butter
    2. Second course of Bronzed wild-caught Louisiana sheepshead with buttermilk cornbread puree, pickled beet relish and sauce meunière
    3. Third course of Creole bread pudding with salted whiskey caramel, whipped cream and pecans
      Acadia Restaurant Portland, Louisiana Barbeque Shrimp with lemon, black pepper, white wine and butter. I went back to the bowl and spooned the sauce right onto my bread. Acadia Restaurant Portland, Bronzed, Wild-Caught Louisiana Sheepshead with Spinach Madeline pie and blue crab meuniére.
  • You can get a hint of one of the best restaurants in Portland Castagna and its genius chef Justin Woodward (he was a finalist for the James Beard Awards last year, also a James Beard 2016 nominee for Best Chef Northwest this year and previous 2 years and nominated for Rising Star Chef of the Year in 2013) by visiting the more casual Cafe Castagna next door. Their entree of milk braised pork shoulder alone is usually $24. (OpenTable rez avail)
    1. First course (choose one): Classic salad with a butter lettuce rosette and royale dressing or duck fat fried potatoes
    2. Second course: Milk-braised pork shoulder with shaved Tokyo turnips
    3. Third course (choose one): Butterscotch pot de crème  or Blackberry sorbet
  • Accanto is the casual enoteca experience if you want Italian, and they are raising the bar by offering four courses for your $29- and two options for three of the courses. (OpenTable rez avail)
    1. First course (choose one): Paté di Campagna: pork terrine with whole grain mustard, charred bread and parsley or Tortino di riso con carciofi: risotto pancake stuffed with artichokes, pecorino and tomato jam.
    2. Second course (choose one): Zuppa di pasta e fagioli with cannellini beans, macaroni, tomatoes and vegetable broth  or Insalata di Caesar with chicories, crispy ciabatta, parmigiano and boquerones.
    3. Third course (choose one): Strozzapreti con funghi e: ricotta, house pasta, soffrito with mushrooms, spinach, ricotta and soft boiled egg or Lombata di maiale balsamico: roasted pork loin, portabello and sundried tomatoes, escarole and balsamic demi-glace.
    4. Fourth course: Tiramisu

You can check out the official Portland Dining Month website  to see those restaurants and filter by location, cuisine, or view the details of the courses that will be offered and options for courses if applicable.

What are you eyeing to enjoy for March and Portland Dining Month 2016?

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