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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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Fenouil

Fenouil in the Pearl (since closed) was supposed to be one of the classier meals of the trip. The setting was definitely classy; a two-story restaurant with high ceilings, the drapery and wood work was nice. Service was … odd, at best. Attentive, but trying too hard? I don’t know if that makes any sense. Wine (apologies, I quickly lost track of what wines were consumed and didn’t photograph most of them, but we tried most of the decent Pinot Noirs from Oregon over the course of the trip) this time was the Domaine Serene Eventstad Reserve:

It was yummy. At least until I passed a ridiculous bottle in a decanter on the way to the bathroom. I should have stolen it and just walked out. Suffice to say, it was worth a few grand. Damn. Anyway. Appetizers were foie gras (good) and lamb tartare great). I forgot to take pictures.

The duck came with foam and various decorations. It sucked, to be frank:

Bacon-wrapped rabbit was … well, it tasted like bacon. The preparation hid the flavor and texture of the rabbit, ultimately. Not a bad dish, if you like bacon wrapped protein:

Dessert (also not appearing in this feature) was a cheese plate, which was quite good. I want to say I picked a raw sheep semisoft and some funky goat cheese; both were nice selections. Maybe go if you want to eat a few small plates, a cheese course, and dessert; maybe skip the entrees.

Andina

Andina is a “novoperuvian” restaurant. It’s pretty much a tapas joint. I didn’t photograph the vast majority of the dishes, most were decent; few were anything exceptional. Probably the best was the ceviche, which was quite tender and flavorful, if nothing particularly exotic:

Most exotic was the beef heart; it was way overdone, and was pretty much beef heart flavored rubber:

One medium rare piece was quite good, to be fair, but the rest just wasn’t worth it.

Octopus was decent:

The Peruvian cookie was good:

Truffles and coffee were mediocre. If you’re looking for a tapas experience with a Peruvian flare, want to be crammed into a noisy and uncomfortable space, and want to pay for it, it’s not so bad. Sangria was good, I guess. In general, though, not really worth it, though, unless you’re going with a huge group and can do dozens of plates and just have an experience, I think.

Castagna

Castagna was the restaurant I was most looking forward to, and it did not disappoint. Service was great. Setting was quiet, except for the fucking crying baby. Who the fuck brings crying babies to nice restaurants in Portland? Everybody. Pretty much every nice restaurant we had had some couple who had brought along their noisy fucking kids. Just be warned about this, if you’re going to Portland. You can’t have a nice meal. The best restaurants are still full of noisy fucking kids. Sorry. Go for the restaurant (Castagna) rather than the Cafe (Castagna Cafe) if you want the full experience, I think,

Anyway, ignoring that, outstanding restaurant. Great service. Wasn’t there the evening they did their tasting menu (damn), but did do two four course meals; here’s the quick snaps I got; the menus change every week, so I don’t promise I’ll get this all right:

This was something like dungeness crab with sunchokes, sea essence, and anise oil:

Black winter truffles, some sort of noodle thing:

Lamb with some stuff; obviously done sous vide, and perfect, with a nice sauce:

Pickles. The best I’ve ever had:

Pine curd and roasted chanterelles, with crisp pork and bouillon.

Venison with some stuff:

Apple with some stuff. The bed of sugar it’s on was smoked, which was interesting:

Pear with riseling sorbet. Maybe. And some stuff:

One of the top five meals I’ve had. Definitely hit Castagna if you’re in Portland. Totally worth it, especially if you’re into molecular gastronomy stuff.

Everett Street Bistro

The Everett Street Bistro is the best breakfast place we went to in Portland; sadly we figured this out with only one breakfast left, or we would have been back. This is the best French toast I’ve ever had:

It was completely awesome. The quiche was about fourteen inches tall, and was overcooked. Sort of rubbery. Good flavor, just too late in the breakfast cycle to have had it fresh out of the oven, so it was re-microwaved I assume. But it looked amazing. I was still left with a very positive impression; I would return. Gladly.

Veritable Quandary

Veritable Quandary is another institution. It was … well, a veritable quandary. Lots of food, tons of random crap all mixed together, all of it done pretty well. Had a reserve Rubicon Cabernet Sauvignon that was off-the-charts awesome, after some lovely cocktails. Let’s see, here’s the food; starting with some figs stuffed with blue cheese, wrapped some stuff and sugar and flash fried:

Rabbit pate wrapped in bacon; unlike rabbit in bacon, this made perfect sense, since the pate was strong in flavor:

Yum, right? Osso bucco with a ton of other crap, over basil risotto:

Duck breast over scalloped potatoes with a mountain of duck confit piled in for good effort:

And a chocolate soufflé:

The food was all fantastic. Not out-of-this-world gastronomic odyssey sort of stuff (like Castagna), but lots of good food inexplicably combined and still working out and prepared well. Stuff you’d cook at home if you were making a little too much food for a nice meal, done better than you could do it. Had a great time; highly recommended as well.