Tuesday, May 22, 2018

FRENCHETTE

My hopes were high, both for Chef Riad Nasr's reputation and the recommendation from a very trustworthy source, but Frenchette failed me, for the most part.   That's not too say it's not very good: it is.   It's good, but not extraordinary.  I suppose I came in with expectations too high, in conjunction with less of a Francophilic passion for traditional French bistro cuisine: sue me, but I really do like some tweaks of modernity in with the classics.  And for sure, there are a few, but for the most part, Frenchette isn't French-ish..... it is trés francais.  And solidly done, so if that's what you are looking for, most signs point to go.


The room is pretty dull, although I very much enjoyed the oversized peonies stretching across the pale, buff colored walls.  There are the requisite vintage looming above ruddy leather banquettes (which imho would've been much more attractive in a deep cerulean or logan green).  The service was superb, however, genuinely happy to welcome us and efficient and friendly throughout the meal. They were, for the most part, the high point.
A peek into the kitchen.

That's not to say Frenchette is bad.... at ALL.  It's just not exciting. And there were some technical errors throughout the meal- actually in almost every dish- that really need addressing.  Friends more knowledgeable and invested in wine than am I voiced adamant disapproval of the strictly natural wine list.  Now, this is a growing trend and I don't have a vehement opinion on it, but I do have thoughts about their pricing.  The by-the-glass list isn't online, but if I recall correctly they started around seventeen and skyrocketed upwards.  I feel like there should be $12-14 options in the very least.  That said, perhaps (counter-intuitively, like un-pasteurized juice) natural wines are pricier.  At any rate, we enjoyed a very civil rosé, not enough to remember the varietal or producer, but it drank very well with our meal.

And onto that, we began with Asperges Vinaigrette, which maybe should've been Vinaigrette Asperges, because it was drowned in
 so much mustard-pungent sauce, the bi-colored spears were almost irrelevant.   I scraped off probably 60% of the sauce and it was still overwhelming.  And worse than not being able to taste the asparagus was not being able to sense even a hint of the generous shavings of truffle blanketing the dish, especially since they were probably the primary reason these three spears cost $18.  They might as well have been Crayola's
 Timberwolf for as much flavor as they imparted- that being none. Better were some really fat, Belon oysters pooled with warm butter, giving them just a slight toothsomeness before they slid pleasantly down the hatch.  

The most successful dish, though, might have been a side of za'atar roasted carrots, their meatier ends achieving a decadent sweetness and softness, while the tapered point of the root end got blessedly crispy, as crunchy as a French fry.  They weren't the best roasted carrots I've ever had- their seasoning could've been a little more assertive, loving za'atar as I do- but the carrots
 themselves were flavorful enough not to depend on the enhancement.  Benne (sesame) seeds added nuttiness and the smooth, thick bed of labneh a cool counterpart.  I enjoyed my roasted cod with sweet little cockles in the shell in a verdant sauce of parsley, but the
 chanterelles mentioned were not noticeably present.  And it wasn't one to write home about, it didn't elicit any complaints, either.
The Duck Frites was, as is Anything Frites, a few slices of the waterfowl and a mountain of fries, which is why I never order Anything Frites.  The duck looked to be mostly skin and fat, but its order-er reveled in the juicy flesh, gently perfumed with anise and pleaded its skin's crispy case.  The fries themselves were 50-50, some were quite good (especially those consumed upon arrival), but by the end there seemed to be more mealy, wan ones, perhaps an effect of both temperature and humidity at the bottom of the stack.








For dessert, of which there is but four options, we tried the millefeuille- you could almost say by default, because I previewed the tarte tatin at a table near us, and is was very thin and flat, which probably had a lovely buttery, caramelized crust, but was going to lack that lovely plushness of baked apples that I love in a tatin, so we opted against.  The millefeuille boasted an ethereally light cream filling, but the feuilles were a little on the sturdy side.  They were deeply baked, tasting of that almost-burnt pie crust nuttiness, while I would've preferred a pliant, flaky pastry that could melt into the cream.  Instead, the pressure of the fork made the filling squirt out all over the place.   But they DID manage to eke out a candle to recognize my tablemate's birthday, another nod to the capable service.

The one dish I regret not having tried is the Brouillade, a soft scramble of eggs and sea urchin, although not being a fan of the latter dissuaded me from ordering it at the time.  A return visit would definitely include that, but given the rest of the experience, as well as two other friends' assessments on different occasions that matched mine, that just probably is not going to happen.  Desolée, Frenchette... I know we were both hoping for better.







241 West Broadway
tel. 1.212.334.3883

https://www.frenchettenyc.com

Thursday, May 17, 2018

FERRIS


There are pretty much two associations people make with the word Ferris, both of which are fun and festive.  A Ferris wheel, with all its freedoms and nostalgia and jubilation, and Mr. Bueller, of course, who too shares those endearing attributes.  Our NYC Ferris opened up recently in the Flatiron district of midtown is a subterranean destination that embodies everything a good Ferris should.  You can enter this little subterranean nook either through The Made Hotel in which it is located, or via a sneaky staircase just to the right of the hotel entrance, which descends past a covered garden space which will be something else to look forward to, come summer.  For now, It's a pretty tiny space, though, and some of the design decisions and/or existing infrastructure doesn't help to open things up. Apparently the rest of the world really IS as exuberant about pillows as decorating magazines make them out to be.  I, personally, am NOT a fan, especially when they practically push you off the edge of the banquette and impede the already compromised elbow-room of closely tucked in tables.   But pushing as much as humanly possible into very circumspect surrounding is a theme that also carries over into the menu, most items which pack a lot of components into their makeup.

In order to get some of these on your table, your uber-friendy and vivacious server can fetch you cocktails, and these live up to the atmosphere.  Of course they come with clever names, but are just as artistically composed, seasonal and balanced.  There were a lot of special additions to the menu on my visit, probably too many and too complex, in fact, to be expected to consider on the fly.  They all sounded great from what I could retain, though, even as we did end up sticking with that which we had preselected.  The menu lists plates grouped mostly according to size: so a little guidance in terms of volume is necessary.  We ended up ordering too much, but not far too much, given my tablemate's voracity (and that we chosen the lighter dishes on the docket).    Because of the primarily small plate format, dishes come out as they may, which may or may not be in keeping with when you'd like them, but we started off strong. In fact, the first two dishes we tried may have been the best of the night:  a wonderful plate of beets,
sweet as dessert, were pushed as far to one edge of the plate as possible, so hopefully you are on that side, or have long arms or good plate-rotating skills.  'Cause these beets are amazeballs..... they are like dirty candy crack, and pretty as pretty can be.  Whimsical slices of raw chioggia decorate the cooked ones underneath, the latter's  sugars concentrated by an aggressive roast.  These are pillowed by a creamy whipped feta studded with nuggets of pistachio, and as pretty as it is, it's that much more delicious.

Another uber-winner was the octopus, to be found amongst the mid-sized plates, but it was pretty dang small.  What is lacked in heft it by far compensated for in flavor, though.  Tender nubs of tentacle sat atop a mesmerizing egg custard, greyed with ink (or so I think) (Ha.  'Dja see that, Dr Seuss?) and a smattering of crunchy, crispy, salty croutonettes of potato... which they say were confit, but that would imply.... well, several things.  None of which would result in what resulted, unless you just confited the HECK outta those things until they were virtually French's onions, potato-style.  But I'll upside-down-and-backward forgive the faulty description even just for the memory of how good that little plate was.


Charred broccolini balanced its healthy reputation with the incineration of its florets nuzzled into unctuous, Timur (a Szechuan-related pepper)-spiked yogurt and a dusting of pulverized cashews.  Delightfully crunchy elements complemented many of the dishes, imparting a lot of textural intrigue to go along with the barrage of interesting flavors that are already in play.      More veggies came in the form of braised bok choy, although these might've been my least favorite, the crisp bulb of veg left a little too crisp, and shrouded much too heavily with slightly fishy tasting breadcrumbs.









Your action-plan at Ferris should either be to do as we did, and order a bunch of small plates, or as the table next to us did, order a bunch of friends to accompany and go for some for he large format plates.  One of which is a Cote de Boeuf, which includes "all the fixings".... and they're not exaggerating. There were sauces and bowls and all sorts of good things that came along with the hulking cut of meat, maybe the most intriguing of which was a buttermilk-poached onion dip that made we want to ask these strangers for a taste.  The atmosphere here is so festive and
 communal, they probably would've said yes, but our table was pretty full as it was, so I restrained myself, and certainly wasn't going to starve as a result.









A simple filet of striped bass (now hake in a clam broth) retained its shatteringly crisp skin above an umami-packed dash, abut while its flavor was deep and complex, it was strikingly simple, especially in comparison to all the busier multi-faceted dishes on the menu.


In fact, the dishes might be so flavorful and intricate that to some extent, fewer of them is more.  By the time our one large-format dish arrived, I think my senses were somewhat numbed.  My casual-vegan tablemate kept us on a more plant-based regimen, otherwise I would've gone for the grilled lobster tail with hearts of palm.   Instead, we allowed Forbidden Rice to join our ranks, but frankly while the nutty attributes of the dense rice, roasty nubs of romanesco and deeply toasted almonds were nicely balanced by gently bitter chicories, my appetite had kind of topped out to justly appreciated this dish or anything else that would've come.


Thus, we went lighter than light for dessert..... basically a palate cleanser in my opinion, but suitably refreshing.  The dessert menu wasn't printed nor listed online, but to the best of my recollection it was a yuzu sorbet, and it was delightful.  Our next-table gluttons were waxing about the cardamom cake, however, so on a subsequent visit, or for yours, I might suggest that if you can retain the capacity, or better yet- get both.  So far as I can tell, as little elbow-room as there is inside the restaurant, so to is the very slim chance of ordering something at Ferris that isn't just excellent.






  • 44 W 29TH ST NYC
  •  
  • 212-213-4420
  • Monday, May 14, 2018

    THE LOYAL

    John Fraser, our chef here at The Loyal, is one to follow, no doubt.  The excellence of Dovetail inspired just anticipation for the opening of Narcissa, and it lived up to every expectation (I think I even liked it better).  Not being a vegan, I was less chomping-at-the-bit when I found out about Nix, but even less excited when I actually dined there and was frankly disappointed, despite its Michelin star, the rave reviews and a seemingly current happy eatership.  Well, Fraser has rebounded leaps and bounds in my opinion with his newest venture, The Loyal.



    For the most part, Fraser has a ballsy, lusty style: his flavors are less of the subtle, nuanced variety as the bold and decadent. Thus, the delicacy that can define scallops is tossed by the wayside with these fat beauties, a plush quartet seared to an intense bronze on one side, and wallowing in brown butter-enriched spaghetti squash, its nuttiness compounded by additional crushed filberts strewn atop.  Much to my delight, a quartered Brussels sprout was thrown in to the mix, but alas, one sprout is more like a tease than a treat, so I'm glad it wasn't included in the menu description: the paucity would've then been disappointing.  On my plate (as on this one), there can never be too many Brussels sprouts, and this dish could've also used quite a few more.  Aside from that, and overall, it was a repeat-worthy dish.






    Beet Salad











    Speaking of repeat-worthy, Fraser's beets at Narcissa earned national culinary renown, and his salad here pales not at all in comparison.  It is pillowed by whipped feta studded with crunchy nuggets of roasted pistachio, sprightly leaves of radicchio  propped up at attention.  Before that, you could roll out with the raw bar, or an assortment of bar snacks, which
    Roasted Shishitos
    could actually constitute a fairly balanced and really interesting meal if you ordered every item, feeding for three or four.  We sampled the roasted shishitos, here served with a little more panache than normal: furled scrolls of
     jicama, ever-so-lighty pickled, topped the pile of roasted peppers, then strewn with crunchy fried shallots.
    Their emerald color was retained vibrantly even as their vegetal crunch was decimated by an intense roasting.  I'm not sure what differentiated these categorically from a small dish of Four Radishes, four different varieties, specifically....
    Four Radishes
    not even a whole one of each, so for $16, I guess you're paying more for the luscious, salty smoked trout gribiche beneath that the humble roots, but so the titling goes.






    Do not think for a moment, however, that Fraser is all rabbit food- he has a laudable burger here at The Loyal, fashioned from Piemontese beef, that elite breed, and bedecked with pungent Comte cheese and the mysterious 22-step tomato, which has undergone a battery of treatments from compression to roasting and beyond, resulting in an ur-tomato of ultimate tomato-ness that would be especially impossible to find in nature, in April or really any month of the year.  But even better than the hefty patty and its preciously coddled nightshade are the square duck-fat tater tots that accompany it. I tend to avoid deep fried foods, in general, only partaking when they are well worth their caloric impact.  Well, these ARE.  They have me thinking about them days later.... weeks later, and I don't see myself forgetting about them anytime soon.  Their dense, creamy interior of super spudsiness are contained by an immaculate golden crust, a combination of crispy, creamy, salty, earthy, buttery and just pure,
     iconic deliciousness.  They are ostensibly the best thing I have eaten all year.  Like, I want them again right NOW, and it's ten a.m.  And I'm not hungry.  But I'm hungry for them, and I can't see myself ever not being.  Plus, the burger doesn't really pale in comparison.







    Not being a huge chocolate fan, and after the Wellsian rampage against the laziness of sundaes as restaurant desserts, we went with Brian's (our server's) Choice, as he had pretty much aced all his other suggestions throughout the evening.  The S'mores Baked Alaska, a soft toasted marshmallow igloo snuggled itself over a cool dome of ice cream, a buttery sweet caramel poured table side, drooling languidly over the meringue an into a luscious moat.  First bite was shockingly sweet, but it eased into the neutrally flavored gelato within, balancing the saccharine components with the creamy ones to the benefit of all- us included.  Only a small wafer beneath contributed the chocolate component, but it was rich enough to quell a choco-craving but didn't overwhelm us, either.

    The magic emanated from here:
    Peek into the kitchen....


    the heavy curtains parted just enough to glimpse a flurry of the action within, adding the the anticipation of the arrival of each dish.  Pretty much everything at The Loyal lives up to Fraser's reputation, as he continues his successful expansion.  Consider me a Loyalist.







    289 Bleecker Street NYC
    On the corner of Bleeker and 7th
    tel.  212-488-5800

    Thursday, March 22, 2018

    MERAKIA






    It was an evening of Dimitris: our waiter, first and foremost, and then a post-prandial concerto including composer Dana (Dimitri) Richardson, the latter of which, however, obstructed our ability to have the former serve us dessert.  An eight o'clock concert left us not enough time to peruse any dessert options, but as it is also absent from their online menu, I still don't know what I was missing.  That said, if the sweet side is anywhere near as good as the savories, I'm going to have to come back to find out.

    Merakia takes the place of Kat & Theo, for which I also had rave reviews, but is under the same ownership.  It's current iteration has a stronger Greek influence, but all the care and quality of its predecessor.   The space is even more attractive than before, both from the exterior with that damnable scaffolding finally removed, and the interior, which combines a rustic dark-wood coziness with a bit of glitz and bling from the dazzling lighting that arches across the dining room and illuminates the enchanting bar.  Upon our arrival, our welcome was gracious and warm, we were seated immediately and the service never ebbed from that standard.

    Mediterranean Octopus
    Merakia means "interests" in Greek, and its menu is full o things that will provoke them.  In opposition to the current trend of vegan and super-veg-forward establishments, here the focus is meat: all the beef is grass-fed and organic and the lamb antibiotic-free, so they're doing the right thing on multiple fronts.  They even have a somewhat cheeky disposition against vegetarians, categorizing the two salads on their menu "Rabbit Food", but even the dirt candy is treated with the same reverance as the meatier offerings.  So too treasures of the sea: we began with some "Small Stuff" in the form of Mediterranean octopus, slow-braised and then grilled smoky and tossed with sharp red onions, capers and lemon.  Simple and perfect.

    Dancing with the Lamb
    Our waiter recommended a traditional spit-roasted "Dancing with the Lamb", although he cautioned eloquently that it is prepared well-done there's no way around that, so if you think you like your lamb on the rarer side, you're better off with the chops.  This variation, however, might convince you into  its pas de deux: it's a big pile of very meaty, very un-gamey shank and shoulder, topped with a salty, crispy shard of skin in the spirit of pork cracklings.  It is propped up by thick-cut oven baked potato wedges and well-seasoned chunks of roasted summer squash to round things out.   Even without the nostalgic appeal a native Greek might harbor, this is
    Grilled Branzino
    proves an excellent meal.  If you are, however, on the "No Meat Tonight Please" side of things, there are still great options to be had.  There are even two vegetarian options, a moussaka or an entree-sides vegetable briam, which I took in a small portion ($9 vs. $19) as a side dish for a whole grilled branzino, which was a really robustly sized fish, impeccably cooked and served with just lemon, oil, and a spritz of chopped herbs and capers.  With nothing to mask its flavor, the freshness of the fish shone through,
    Vegetable Briam
     and the fact that it is served with two big lemon wedges might also imply it is big enough to share... especially with a side dish such as the briam, or one of the other "Share and Share Alike"s such as classic Horta or, if you're feeling particularly indulgent, there's a Mac 'n Tiri with three cheeses: a cheddar and two Greek varieties- feta and kefalograviera.  Upon a return visit, however, I think I might try one of the steaks, the Black Tiger King prawns, or even the chicken... and accompany that with one of the luscious-sounding "Dip In" dips- maybe the melitzanosalata or tzatziki.  But the Aliada with chicken, yogurt, walnut and smoked paprika might deserve the spotlight all on its own.

    Perusing the brunch menu might provide insight to their dessert options: they seem to tend very classic, like baklava, a honey walnut cake or a more intriguing sounding Galaktoboureko: a custard-filled phyllo pouch that probably would have been my choice. But missing dessert won't be the only thing that beckons me back to Merakia- I like it just as much as I did its predecessor, and it would still do those namesakes proud.





    5 West 21st Street
    tel (212) 380-1950

    Saturday, January 27, 2018

    LE TURTLE

    Le Turtle.... not La Tortue, or The Turtle, but Le Turtle, is a vivacious little "French New Wave" bistro deep in the Bowery, although the frenchiest thing about it is probably it's .fr url.  That website is simultaneously mystifying and mesmerizing.... it changes frequently, but it seems always to include something a bit shocking, a little sexy, always quirky, artsy, intriguing.   Such can be said for the restaurant itself, at times trying too hard, but at others actually achieving it.
    Large modernist turtle shell
    We arrived to an empty dining room for a 7pm reservation, but within a half hour it was packed, with a cacophonous volume to prove it, and it stayed that way 'til we left.



    The cocktail list included a very seasonal roster from which we choose hot toddy-type cider concoction, strong on its own with additional potency that comes with heated alcohol: it always seems to hit much harder.  Delicious, though, tart and boozy.  The cocktails are pricey, though, at $17 across the board, as is the wine list: the cheapest white was $19, spanning on up to $28.  It seems mean-spirited (no pun intended), or lazy not to include more reasonably priced varietals, because great ones are out there.  The food menus, millennial pink, have only about fifteen items on them, which your waiter will describe as if they are somehow formatted differently than any other menu in the city, but they are in fact, rather straightforward.   I got the feeling they were trying too hard on several counts, both in the kitchen and the servers themselves, who might detail a few additional specials,  and after doing so, ask if there are any questions.  There were: one she answered with a response that clarified nothing, and on the other she was just
    Fennel salad
     inaccurate.  So that fennel salad, despite the fact that she said it combined both raw and cooked fennel, had only gently wilted, thin slices beflecked with toasty sunflower seeds. The most delicious component was robustly sweet chunks of roasted pineapple that made up for the disappointing fennel presentation,  subtly kissed with Meyer lemon vinaigrette.  Had her description been more accurate, I probably would've order the charred broccolini instead- it looked pretty divine with really incinerated florets and vibrant green stalks dusted with pistachio (I eyed this upon my neighbor's table... talk about green being the color of envy).  But better yet, order both.  Portions here are not particularly ample, so what we ended up with felt a little skimpy.  To that end, bread is not included, so if you are going to want a little loaf to mop
    Bone Marrow
     up sauces (which are probably the restaurant's greatest asset), do order them for the six dollars they charge, and let me know what "Le Turtle butters" turn out to be.  A special, a froufrou marrow bone composition, completely lost the marrow to everything else it had going on. Which was delicious, but probably pretty overwrought for someone who actually wanted to taste the marrow and not the tasty bread-and-butter pickle relish and luscious bacon marmalade that I actually found a lot more appealing.


    Venison
    The ravioli pillows on the adjacent table didn't look very pillowy..... I actually thought they were the sunchoke appetizer in the dim light, but then again they licked that plate clean.   There were two large format options: a whole Sasso chicken ($69)  with Brussels sprouts and a Flintstonian Cote de Boeuf ($115), both of which got ordered multiple times throughout the evening, but with just the two of us we went for individual entrees.  Very rare medallions of venison were nestled into a mild, creamy celeriac puree brightened with popping pickled mustard seeds and a lip-smacking reduction of its maple/dry aged glaze.  I like the sauce better than the meat, which was little bland and mushy.  The monkfish was cooked similarly rare... which doesn't bode well
    Monkfish
     for monkfish.  Much like squid, or chicken, under cooking verges on revolting, its texture sort of rubbery and gelatinous rather than tender.  The kitchen took it back for a little more attention, but maybe gave it a bit too much, although it was really quite delicious anyways.  Salty, its sunrise-hued sauce of ...... studded with favas.  There were only about four or five of those, however, so definitely fulfill your vegetable quota in the small plates that start, as the entrees include virtually none.






    Caramelized fennel and cinnamon ice cream
    On that note, I decided to try to get more of my five-a-day from dessert, but the caramelized fennel with cinnamon ice cream was really more candied, tooth-achingly sweet.  It would have made a fantastic garnish for a neutral cake or even poached fruit, but on its own it was overwhelmingly saccharine.  Our other options were rattled off by our server rather than printed out, so I recall a cardamom-spiced rice pudding and a chocolate option, plus one other one that escapes me.  We shared a French press coffee from La Colombe, though, and it was duly strong,  pairing well with the cinnamon ice cream and even countering some of the fennel's sugariness.

    As our reservation was relatively early, the hordes kept funneling throughout the course of the evening.  So even as we were anticipating our check, more of the whole roasted chickens kept parading through the dining room, torched upon arrival for a bit of fireworks to close out the evening.    I hadn't read the New York Times' review beforehand, so when I turned to my dining companion and asked "Do you smell pot?" I didn't even know I was borrowing from Pete Well's script.  But I guess it is legal (-ish?) now, so not to worry. And whether it is that or just a well-run establishment with happy diners, Le Turtle sports a pretty chill vibe.
















    Wednesday, January 10, 2018

    DIVERSION/PDX: JACKRABBIT

    A Jackrabbit seems like on of the animals with just enough quirk and outdoorsiness to live up to Portland standards.  But while this Jackrabbit isn't all that weird, it has loosely modernized surf 'n turfed up menu with a fair share of cheffy oddities, like pig's ears and heads, along with "S&M"..... Shells and Meats, in this case, showcasing daily oyster specials and charcuterie complete with "untraditional garnishes."  So there is a palpable cheekiness in circulation, but a sense of normality stems from two difference factors: it is located in a hotel (The Duniway), which is usually grounding, and the chef is a familiar name- Chris Cosentino, from San Francisco.  And while my sister says he has
     diminished some of NorCal presence, he wasn't in the kitchen the night of my visit, either, nor (according to our chipper server) is he very often, if ever.








    Jackrabbit is dark and kind of barny inside, fairly simply laid out but for a few rabbit tchotchkes here and about, and a large, handsome iron sculpture of heavy twists of vines and roses that was suspended above our table. A vast bar dominates the front room, with more real estate than the dining room, reflecting the heavy influence of local beers, wines and gin-centric cocktail menu.  No open kitchen here; in fact, I couldn't even tell you from where the food arrived, but when it did, nothing wasn't really, really solid.

    Service is casual, the whole atmosphere is a little hush-hushed and calm, but we were there on what was probably a pretty not-busy night.  Even so, service lapsed somewhat throughout the evening, but the informality allowed to occur fairly inoffensively.  And as long as I'm criticizing, I'll put it out there here that I'm not a huge fan of "How is everything tasting?" but that inquiry presented itself a minimum of three times .  "How is everything?" is absolutely sufficient.  But at least they were checking, and the answer was always a sincere thumbs-up.

    We started with a simple frisée salad over fanned-out slices of roasted delicata squash, dripped with a richly reduced, sticky balsamic.   There was one other salad option (a simple lettuce and herb combo with a lemon vinaigrette), but otherwise starters tended towards the weightier side, like a beef tartare or grilled cheese, or else a selection from the Pastas & Grains that could be shared as a first course or easily substantial enough for mains. A section of the menu dubbed Daily Requirements offers just that, which works well as starters or sides.   Roasted cauliflower certainly had enough going on to hold its own, tender, nutty nubs of the brassica nestled into a lively smudge of
     harissa, then studded with meaty pistachios and  zippy rings of pickled onion.  Not reinventing the wheel here, but certainly ensuring a smooth ride.


    The menu is fairly large, so it's maybe a little unfortunate that both my dining companion and I arrived upon the grilled halibut with the same level of enthusiasm, and in a rare blitz of holiday generosity, acquiesced to us both ordering the same entree.  While a  local stuffed trout with brown butter or roasted duck breast with celery root are other attractive options, nothing else sufficiently rivaled the halibut with its braised kale and kabocha, and big, sweet hunks of
     divinely mellowed shallot.  We took another Daily Requirement in the form at sautéed mushrooms, wild ones featuring an array of chanterelles, oysters and other species of fancier fungi.

    The dessert menu made good on another Portland trend I recognized of late- the prevalence of carrot cake.  Jackrabbit's iteration came in the form of an accoutrement for the panna cotta, along with crumbles of black walnut and a novel carrot cider sorbet.  We tried the mascarpone cheesecake, a dense puck of ivory topped with cool, cider-poached apples and delightful shards of buttery puff pastry caramelized to a toffee-like crispness.  A grasshopper ganache featured fresh mint in its fudgy chocolate mint combo, and a cheese plate paired warm sticky fig cake with Beemster's gouda.

    I'm a terrible joke-teller.  I have about three jokes in my repertoire, and only one of them really ever gets a laugh.  But it happens to be a silly little quip about cowboys, liquor, and the California Invasion into Oregon, a migration rabidly scorned by the natives in their rapidly overpopulating state.  But this interloper, Californian or not,  is welcome in my book.  As long as he doesn't bring all along too many friends.......




       






            830 SW 6th Ave
            Tel. 503-412-1800