I agree. Don't believe everything you read. That said, I've been bitching about it here:
I would choose Paley's. I think it is one of Portland's best restaurants. Definitely in the top 10. Higgins I would place in the top 20, but I think they do better with their bar food, charcuterie, and pickles than the rest of the menu.
For other places that use a lot of local/seasonal, like Higgins, I would choose Wildwood, Park Kitchen, or clarklewis first. You shouldn't get a bad meal at Higgins, though. You just may wonder why it's in the top 50. But then, you may wonder that no matter where you go in Portland. (And I'm generally a pretty strong defender of our local food scene.)
I'd go to Carlyle, Tabla, Castagna, Alba Osteria, Park Kitchen, Fenouil, or clarklewis over either of them.
But if you have to go to one of the places mentioned in Gourmet...
Paley's is the more romantic of the two. Also, I think Paley's has a better track record in pleasing their customers. They didn't please me, but hey, it happens.
Higgins has a great beer selection, both local and international, one of the best you'll find at a restaurant, much less such a high-end restaurant.
If you want to visit both, go to lunch at Higgins and dinner at Paley's. At Higgins you can have many of the same choices you have for dinner for lunch at $10-15/plate less. I just don't think dinner there is quite worth the money.