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KNorthrup

Portland - Park Kitchen

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I am so far behind on trying new restaurants. Made it to here last night. They let me take the menu but it's a heck of a lot to type. But anyone is welcome to PM for a fax. It says 'early September' so maybe it's changing soon.

We had four of the small plates, although we were tempted to ask them to let us split the "Roast leg of lamb with flageolet beans, chanterelles and roasted chiles ($18.50)."

From the Small Hot Plates section, "Salt cod fritters with malt vinegar ($7.50)" and "Batter fried green beens with tarrgon and bacon ($8.00)."

From the Small Cold Plates section, "Flank steak with blue cheese, tomatoes and spring onions ($9.50)" and "Freshly marinated anchovies with preserved lemons and fennel ($6.50)."

The flank steak was easily the best of the lot. Shavings mounded with the other ingredients, the cheese sort of melting and smearing throughout. Very rare and very tender. More room temp than cold, which helped increase the flavours.

The fritters had very little cod flavour. They were pretty much mashed potato balls. Tasty mashed potato balls, but I was hoping for something stronger. Maybe they think most people find salt cod too strong?

All the press has been focusing on the green beans and it looked like every table ordered them. Eh. They were greasier than tempura usually is and the bacon only made an occasional appearance. The tarragon was in a creamy dipping sauce on the side. The beans themselves were great, nice and crisp but not raw. I just would have liked a lighter, less greasy batter. And more bacon.

Not a huge anchovie fan but apparently these were good.

Lemon raspberry bread pudding. This was good. The raspberry sauce with whole berries was so vivid as to resemble canned cherry pie filling but it tasted completely natural, and not at all too sweet. The lemon bread pudding was moist throughout. The "Caramel chocolate chunk tart with salted pecan bark" will have to be tried sometime. I love it when they add salt to chocolate and caramel. All desserts $6.50.

Tried a cocktail called a Salt & Pepper. Vodka, pink grapefruit juice and bitters with a salted rim. The aftertaste really does taste like salt and pepper. Pretty sure she said regular vodka, not the pepper kind. Minor quibble that comes up sometimes - when they say a drink has 'grapefruit juice' as a component and it turns out to be the pink kind. They don't taste identical and sometimes it makes a difference.

Had an egullet moment when the waitress introduced herself. The two at a nearby table did the introducing themselves back thing. It seemed to be in a very 'we know we're quite well off and you're serving us but we're making a point of acknowledging our shared humanity' sort of guilty liberal way. Overall, the service seemed overtrained, if that's the word. I mean, she did a great job and was obviously trying really hard but in the sense of a sincere robot. All the gestures and descriptions were really precise and she tended to reply with what she was expecting us to have said or asked rather than what we actually said. Everyone in the kitchen seemed pretty relaxed. Not in a bad way. But maintaining a laid back pace. I think there were four people back there. Usually about five tables worth of customers, most of them two people apiece. Nice decor. Elegant but comfortable. Of course the walls were also about the same colour as my living room so maybe I was biased.

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Thanks for the review. We've tried twice to go there for lunch and it was on a day they were closed or they just closed the kitchen for lunch (half an hour earlier then what was posted on the door, btw). We've almost given up on ever going, because it got so frustrating. But we've set a record with Murata, last night made the third try for eating there, luckily Carafe was right next door.

regards,

trillium

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Did you see that Gourmet picked it as one of their Portland recommended restaurants for the year?

Really? I'm about six issues behind on that too. Never should have gone back to school.

Finally trying The Dining Room tomorrow night though. Still haven't tried Murata.

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Laurie and I had lunch at PK with Jim Dixon a while back. Jim and I both had the hot dog, which was not terribly hot dog like (it's a homemade sausage on a brioche bun) but good. I thought the bun was a little too rich. Laurie and I both thought the desserts were incredibly appealing--there were five or six desserts on offer, all of which sounded good. Now I can't remember quite what we ended up with, though. There were some unannounced substitutions with the desserts, but I don't think the place had been open very long, so they're probably having less of that sort of problem today.

Anyway, it was an interesting place and I'd like to go back. More reports, please.


Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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I dimly remember you and Laurie mentioning something about clafouti the next day. Ring any bells? If the pastry chef at Park Kitchen is still the same, she was the main reason I could be talked into going to Higgins. I really love her desserts, and keep trying to eat at Park Kitchen mainly because I loved her desserts at Higgins.

regards,

trillium

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I love love love clafouti. Here's what was on the menu last week.

Lemon raspberry bread pudding

Warm Gravenstein apple & blackberry galette w/vanilla bean ice cream

Caramel chocolate chunk tart w/salted pecan bark

Honey-orange melon gelato w/lime butter cookies

Gratin of late summer berries w/cassis sorbet & champagne sabayon

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So the pastry chef at Park Kitchen is the previous pastry chef from Higgins? I'm not much of a Higgins believer *except* the pastries from the previous pastry chef. I had this awesome baked apple filled with huckleberries served with, I think, a sabayon sauce last summer. It was grand. It so upstaged everything else we ate there (and everything I've eaten there). The only better desserts I had had in Portland were from Lucere, but the've lost their pastry chef as well.

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If the pastry chef at Park Kitchen is still the same, she was the main reason I could be talked into going to Higgins. I really love her desserts, and keep trying to eat at Park Kitchen mainly because I loved her desserts at Higgins.

Sorry I didn't notice earlier. I don't know if it's the same but it's Ellen McFarland. Chef Scott Dolich, Sous chef Jeff Reiter. Should snage menus more often.

Two entrees besides the lamb that will have to be tried (if they stay on the menu) - Seared sablefish w/olive oil potatoes and sweet pepper stew ($18.00) and Warm duck salad w/black currants and hazelnuts ($18.50).

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KNorthrup...looking forward to seeing what you have to say the Dining Room. Interested in the "Happy Hour"...as a "quick" and "easy" snack before movie at 7:00 p.m.

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Just a quick correction to the review: The Salt and Pepper is made with Tanqueray 10 Gin not vodka, and the grapefruit juice is not pink grapefruit, but the Peychaud bitters does turn it that color. Nice words about Ellen, she does a heckuva job

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Finally got into Park Kitchen and now I'm wondering what took me so long.

Park Kitchen

North Park Blocks

422 NW 8th

503-223-PARK

You enter a narrow bar area, much like Noble Rot, which leads back to a larger dining room with about 8 tables plus some seats facing the kitchen. It's a little less "rustic" than Noble Rot, though, with pea green walls, copper-colored metal tables, chic hanging lights, and dark brown booth seats wrapping around the walls.

The menu is divided into four sections: small hot plates, small cold plates, large plates, and desserts. The small plates range in price from $5.50 to $9.50. The large plates were all $18.50 and the desserts were all $6.50 (though a cheese plate was $7.50).

I have to say there were many things I was interested in. There were some boring items, but also many interesting items. Ultimately, we settled on two small plates and two large plates (and two desserts).

My wife ordered the marinated scallops with blood oranges, fennel, and walnuts ($9.50) for her appetizer. It was very good. The scallops had no off flavor at all and I don't know that they were cooked in any traditional sense, maybe just "cooked" in the same sense that ceviche is. The walnuts were candied and the dish was served with a reduction of some sort, maybe a port reduction, something sweet and fruity with a wine finish. It was a very good dish overall.

I ordered an odd one for me: marinated anchovies with preserved lemon and fennel ($6.50). The anchovies were fileted and without any off taste either (just that strong anchovy flavor). The preserved lemon flavor could have been more pronounced, but the fennel slices went wonderfully with the anchovy and helped balance some of the strong flavor without obstructing it. Personally, I would have liked more of the fennel-lemon salad to balance the anchovy, but it was good overall. And I'm not inclined to actually like it.

My wife got the sliced duck breast with chestnut puree and caramel oranges ($18.50) for her large plate. The duck was nicely cooked medium-rare with crispy skin (though my wife, shame on her, cut it off and wouldn't let me eat it). The chestnut puree was quite tasty. I thought it was a root vegetable. It also came with spinach and crispy shredded duck. The oranges were disappointing. They weren't thinly sliced and the skin was left on so they were actually rather bitter. Not only that, but a lot of the juice had leeched out of them leaving them just pulpy and bland. My suggestion would be to slice them thinly and slightly candy them in the caramel sauce. They'd be much better. The sauce was decent, though had a little bitterness to it that I didn't enjoy. Still good overall.

I got the braised rabbit with preserved apricots and almonds and a side of au gratin greens ($18.50). The rabbit was quite tasty with an excellent sauce. The sauce was maybe a little salty, even for me, but had a lot of flavor. The dried fruit and nuts were great in the dish, of course. It also came with what looked like some grilled tenderloin of rabbit with rosemary, a nice touch, and some nicely roasted potato wedges that reminded me of high quality jo-jos with the wonderful sauce instead of Ranch. A very good dish.

For dessert my wife ordered the bittersweet chocolate terrine with port and caramel-poached winter fruits and hazelnuts ($6.50). I'm not sure exactly why they call it a terrine. It was really just a wedge of slightly soft chocolate, possibly with some espresso added, served with the tasty sauce and poached dried fruits.

I ordered the banana sorbet with chocolate shortbread sandwiches. Yum. The banana sorbet was excellent, very banana-y and very smooth, hardly icy at all. The chocolate shortbread sandwich cookies were tasty with a creamy filling, like the best Oreos ever.

Honestly, I could have gotten anything on the dessert menu. They all sounded good.

Park Kitchen deserves to be ranked right along the better small plate places such as Buckman Bistro, Tabla, and Noble Rot. I think that if you like these places, you'll like Park Kitchen. Even though Park Kitchen does have large plates, it has so many small plates and the feel is so much the same as the small plate places, that that's where I think it belongs. One thing I especially like is that they seem to deliver more than what the menu suggests, while what's on the menu still sounds good. I hate when I got to a restaurant (one of my problems with Higgins) and I'm excited about a menu item and it comes out and doesn't live up to the description. I don't think they're quite the deal that, eg, Lauro Kitchen is, but the portion sizes are fair and, like I said, you get more than what you ask for.

Side note: if you're a lesbian or young guy looking for a sugar-momma, you might try here. 90%+ of everyone there was a 35-60 year old middle and upper-middle class woman. I've never seen a restaurant so dominated by women. Odd.

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