PDX: Park Kitchen
It was a crappy Tuesday evening last week when my wife and I ventured into the Park Kitchen. After circling the park a couple of times as it was tricky to find, we strolled into a snug, warmly lit space with the bar up front on the right side paired with a few stools. Garage doors remained firmly closed due to the weather but on the inside of said doors there were 2-3 tables that were filled with a few deuces and a small, very hip, family of three. With a little imagination, I could envision warm summer evenings on the other side of those doors overlooking the park.
As we settled into two bar seats (when mini-me-less, we typically like to eat at the bar) we noticed the snug space continued through to an open kitchen and several tables that were about 1/2 full. From what I had read, we should thank Mother Nature as a lengthy wait is common.
The bartender/server quickly introduced himself, distributed small drink and food menu's, and informed us he needed a few minutes to catch up as the creation of libations, which are excellent and varied, was taking a bit of time. After he finished up his to do's we decided on a Pear Brandy Sidecar and a not so ironic, Dark and Stormy (freshly grated ginger, dark rum, soda and a squeeze of citrus) to wet the appetite.
We decided to start with the Beets, persimmon, feta and red lentils and a black eyed pea soup with foie gras. These were paired with a
2001 Idylwood Pinot Noir and 2004 Loimer "Lois" Gruner Veltliner respectively.
The beet salad had excellent depth of fruit, salt and earth and only lacked in texture which was easily overlooked. The black eyed pea soup was nicely prepared in a tomato broth reminicent to minestrone with chunks of other vegetables. I would have preferred to pay more for a larger serving of foie gras as the nutty, creamy texture lent itself well to the acidic base. Overall, a very nice beginning.
We then went with the grilled sweetbreads and a salad of Shaved apples, manchego and radicchio. These were paired with glasses of 2004 Domaine de Baumard "Le Caleche" Anjou Chenin Blanc and 2004 Clos des Vent Corbieres.
The sweetbreads were easily the most luciously sweet, tender lobes I have had a chance to sink my teeth into. They were prepared wonderfully light and allowed to stand on their own with a little caramalization from the searing. The shaved apple salad was a perfect accompaniment and complemented the sweetbreads after every bite.
Overall, a very rewarding experience and I can't wait to get back and try some of the other items. He was offering a terrine of pheasant and pistachio which I couldn't talk my wife into ordering this time...
We are Seattleites that get down to PDX often for business. Any other small plate specialists that Chowhounders come across, please let me know. I can't wait to get to Le Pigeon.