So I’ve talked a lot about how good Portland is at street food and sandwiches, but here’s another thing that makes this city amazing. On a recent Wednesday evening, I walked into Portland’s best-reviewed, most-hyped restaurant—Le Pigeon—sans reservations, looking like my normal grubby, travelling-for-weeks, t-shirt and jeans self…and asked if I could get a meal. Not only did they seat me immediately at the small bar space overlooking the open kitchen, but they didn’t seem to be the slightest bit put out by it. This may be the New Yorker in me—just assuming that I’m going to be treated snobbishly everywhere—but it’s so great when you go to a restaurant that could get away with being jerks, but aren’t.
OK, on to the food. I started with the smoked rabbit pie and hot mustard ice cream because…well, because I have a crazy addiction, and that dish sounded downright batty. But Le Pigeon had my number on this one. I asked for crazy, and I got even crazier. When the server returned with my dish, she set the rabbit pie and savory ice cream down in front of me, and casually mentioned that the artfully presented sauce-like substance spread across the side of the plate was in fact a remoulade of rabbit heart. Well done. Love how she just threw that in at the end there…oh yeah, and there’s some rabbit heart on your plate.
The heart was delicious—meaty and juicy and well…like you would imagine heart to taste. Cut up into tiny pieces and made into a remoulade was the perfect way to present it. I mean, you don’t want to be served a whole hunk of heart, but just a little taste like that, to pair with the rest of the dish, was so delightfully decadent. The mustard ice cream was also a nice, cooling treat, and I enjoyed spreading it across each bite of the rabbit pie.
My second course was a hunk of slow roasted lamb—the kind of perfectly-cooked cut that comes tender and falling apart, with just a sliver of fat across the top, such that each slice you cut off has just the right amount of fatty goodness, but never too much.
And get this: the server went ahead and suggested that, since my lamb and rabbit were very different dishes, I get a different half-glass of wine to pair with each course (and she only charged me for one full glass!) Show me a server at any restaurant in New York who will, in that situation, not try to up-sell you into getting two full glasses of wine. Again, loving you Portland. All in all, the combo of perfectly-cooked inventive food paired with an amazingly accommodating atmosphere made this one of the best dinners I’ve ever had. Only regret: not saving room for the foie gras profiteroles. Next time.
Also on The Endless Road Trip: Portland
2. All That’s Euro is Not Trash
3. Salt and Straw
4. Blue for Breakfast
5. Put Some Ink on It
6. Now That’s a Biscuit
7. The Most Elitist Berry of All
8. Pastrami in Portland?
(Photo: Le Pigeon)