Best PDX Oysters and Higgins Question
Hi, we're going to be travelling out to PDX in a few weeks and have gotten some great advice on places from this board already. We've so far booked at Murata and Higgins since we love sushi and thoughtful local/NW cuisine. I'm curious to know if anyone can answer two specific questions to help us round out our plans:
1. Where to go for Portand's best oysters? I've read the posting about Alberta Street Oyster Bar but they seem inconclusive. We're most interested in quality and, to a somewhat lesser extent, variety. Not price sensitive.
2. Would Higgins be described as higher end from an atmosphere perspective? Or is it more a basic, paper table cloth kind of place but with great, inventive food? I learned they serve a salmon dish almost every night (we love fresh wild salmon), using Alaskan King early in the season (April/early May) until the Oregon run supports all-Oregon King in summer? Is that as good?
I toured around for oysters in Portland not long ago and I think you can do quite well at Alberta Street, Carlyle, or even McCormick & Schmick. The problem with the latter is going much beyond the oysters. Even Dan & Louis if you want a more downscale option that moves a lot of oysters.
Nearly every decent restaurant in Portland has salmon on the menu every night when it's in season, eg:
GRILLED OREGON CHINOOK SALMON 28
bacon wrapped spring onion, roasted fennel and brown butter hollandaise
Spring Chinook Salmon
grilled salmon, baby fava bean risotto, ramps, preserved lemon and cantal cheese with sweet pea coulis 28.00
Seared salmon, sorrel, potatoes and leeks 24.50
Higgins is in the upper end of pricing for Portland, which means that most items are in the mid to upper $20s. It's a white tablecloth place, but also has a non-smoking bar area that has a lower-cost menu. It's relatively nice, but I wouldn't say it's among the nicest places in town for decor. If you're wondering about dress: there isn't a place in Portland you can't feel quite comfortable in business casual, ie, a polo and nice jeans or slacks. This time of year, I'm business casual with dress shorts everywhere.
I'd say Carlyle, Alberta St. or Dan & Louis for the raw oysters. Dan & Louis has a great happy hour deal on their oysters that I am itching to check out: http://www.danandlouis.com/index/Happ...
Alba Osteria has a great fried oyster starter (w/celeriac slaw) on their menu right now that is awesome. That and some gnocchi and a glass of prosecco and you could be extremely happy.
I'd do Carlyle (http://www.carlylerestaurant.com/carl...) or Wildwood (http://wildwoodrestaurant.com/dinnerm...) over Higgins for a nice dinner in a heartbeat. Better food made with high-end local ingredients and, often, more inventive.
Do Higgins for lunch (most of the same food but $10+ less for the same food served at dinner) if you really want to go there, though. They have a great beer list for a high-end restaurant.
For oysters I don't think you can beat Alberta Street Oyster Bar. They always have a fairly large variety, they have interesting sauces, and they are always extremely fresh. If you're looking for quality and variety, that's where I'd go. Be sure to make a reservation, they are pretty busy just about every night.