Sunday, August 28, 2011

Diversion/PDX: TASTY 'N SONS

John Gorham already established himself as one of my favorite chefs from my visit to his first restaurant, Toro Bravo, a Basque tapas joint in Northeast.  His latest venture, Tasty 'n Sons, originated as a brunch/breakfast-all-day destination (although my dad has serious qualms with their interpretation of "all day", as he showed up one morning for breakfast around 8am on a weekday... and they didn't open 'til eleven.  Not everyone's idea of what constitutes a mealtime coalesce.  Sorry, Dad.)  At any rate, the exhuberant success of the  Tasty brunch inspired expansion to Tasty everything.  While breakfasty stuff is served all day, they now boast a full dinner menu, starting at 5pm.  So after an adventurous afternoon out on Sauvie Island, Tasty 'n Sons presented the ideal destination to sate some well-developed appetites.   And every available square ounce of appetite worked-up was going to be put to good use.

I can tell you one thing right off the bat: it's hard to order here.  Hard in a good way.  There're very few offerings that didn't incite an instantaneous salivatory response, and with the extremely reasonable pricing, your greatest misstep will be over-ordering.  But there are, in life, always doggie bags.

Upon analysis, a good deal of our repast featured variations on corn, which makes sense, as it was coming into peak season.  El Maiz Loco on the cob (brand new on the menu, and kind of the trendy item of the moment) featured three humongous, juicy ears, slathered in house-made mayo and heavily dusted with pulverized parmesan and a sprinkle of piment d'espelette- an absolutely extraordinary rendition of Mexican elote.  And on the topic of corn, I still cannot figure how Gorham imbued THAT much corn flavor into his plush little hushpuppies.  Crisped buttery and golden on the outside, they harbor a cake-like
interior so impossibly corny it was like a nugget of pure summer.  Next up came chicken-fried duck, a decidely UN-bikini-friendly main plying two substantial legs over a mound of of the best potato salad I have every encountered: creamy without any real evidence of mayo, sweet only from the natural essence of the creamy Yukon Golds, plus a lively crunch from tidbits of mild onion and celery.  Speaking of crunch, the shatterably crunchy coating which encased the dark, tender duck meat again showcased corn (flakes), creating a crave-worthy shell that picked up any slack from the duck itself, which wasn't exceptionally flavorful, and benefitted extensively from the tangy yellow apricot chutney aside.

Forging ahead, we lightened things up a bit with a brilliant bouillabaisse, chock full of the tenderest chunks of cod, meaty prawns, clams and mussels- all flawlessly fresh.  The broth just whispered of tomato, saffron, seashells  and ocean, but was mopped up by the big, garlicky crouton any drop that my
spoon couldn't collar.  In a nod to Bravo, we ordered the Toro spinach: glistening baby leaves lightly sauteed but heavily garlicked, and reminding me of the need of a return visit to its source.
Although challenging precariously the limits of the stomach's capacity, I don't get back to Portland often enough to risk skipping out on dessert.  So in a blasphemous act of disregard to John's personal recommendation of Ingrid's rum cake (which looked decadently moist), we opted for vanilla panna cotta with seasonal berries, which arrived a small crock of luxurious cream as dense as clotted but smooth and light on the palate, with a hint of cultured tang and a gentle sweetness.  Hyper-ripe, local black, blue and raspberries leaked their juices into the thick,
pure white delicacy, the simplicity almost defying its perfection.

So on second though, in a moment of clarity only possible after the food-induced euphoria had passed, the real problem in the end is not deciding what to order.... but the 2,898 miles that lie between my fork and Gorham's skillet.

3808 N. Williams, Suite C, Portland, OR 97212

No comments:

Post a Comment