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May 9, 2008 02:34 PM

Another Portland "one night" request, but slightly different...

Two San Francisco foodies are coming to Portland for three days...we've got most meals figured out except for Saturday dinner…I need a local's insight!

After scouring posts on this board, I have it narrowed down to:
-- Sel Gris
-- Carlyle
-- Paley's Place
-- Le Pigeon
-- Higgins
-- ten-01

What we're looking for:
+ A "true" Portland experience, with a menu of local ingredients and a lot of creativity with dishes that are more messy and sensual than composed and intellectual
+ High quality service that isn't stuffy
+ Cozy/charming dining room — no overly-designed, loud, or deadly hip rooms with a chaotic bar scene please
…good wine by the glass/half bottles and beers on tap is a big plus (which gives Higgins an edge)

So which do you think fits the bill the best? Any insight is appreciated.

I can't express how excited I am to come up and learn why Portland is rapidly overtaking SF as the West Coast Foodie Nirvana!

P.S. Is Apizza Scholl's really worth the effort? We are both NY-style pizza lovers…could Ken's suffice?

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  1. Ken's will more than "suffice". It will exceed your expectations. Get the margherita pizza & roast vegie plate. Neither it nor Apizza is NY-style.

    Not sure if you can get all your criteria perfectly in one place. I'd call Paley's & Higgins higher on the cozy scale, yet not so messy on the can't go wrong with any of those choices, really.

    Are you going to the Portland Farmers' Mkt?

    Thanks for doing research first and then posting. From now on I'll only respond to posts such as yours!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Leonardo

      Actually, as a New Yorker, I have to correct you. Ken's is NOT NY Style, but Apizza Scholls most definitely is --- in the best sense. There is a lot of pizza in New York, and Apizza Scholls is reminiscant of, and even superior to (IMHO), Lombardi's Pizza in Little Italy. If you like NY style, run, don't walk to Apizza Scholls (although you may have to wait for a table once you get there).

    2. This isn't on your list, but for a "true" Portland experience I suggest that you look at Simpatica for dinner.

      1. It's a great list, but ironocally, I don't think anything on the list meets all of your criteria. Carlyle, Sel Gris, and Ten-01 all lean towards a more "composed" food style. Paley's and Higgins are perhaps more local-centric as far as ingredients go. Although Le Pigeon doesn't have a bar, it can still feel a bit chaotic. With that said however, it may be the most unique on your list. Of the six, it is definately the most casual in terms of style and service. Although I like the food at Ten-01, I would not describe the environment as either cozy or charming. Carlyle and Sel Gris are both intimate, with what I would describe as an "urban sophistication". Paley's is in an old house, so it may fit the cozy bill. Higgins, (with the exception of its bar) has a quiet, corporate feel...fairly traditional. Le Pigeon, style-wise, is pretty funky, but it works well with the over-all vibe and Gabe's approach to cooking. I would say all on your list represent some of the best service in town, but if I were to pick something that best reflects a Portland experience, I would go with Le Pigeon. Have a great dinner!

        1. I still feel like Le Pigeon is distinctly Portland. Urban sophistication, as Kim D puts it, is also a good way to describe ten-01, while Le Pigeon still possesses a patina of neighborhood bistro to it. It probably fits your criteria the best.

          That being said, I'm a big fan of the ten-01 menu, and aside from the gorgeous yet cavernous dining room, it would highly recommend it for its food. But if it's your Portland you're looking for, note that ten-01 is much more "Pearl District" than it is "rest of Portland", if that makes any sense.

          Another one you might like (disclaimer: I have not yet visited) is Alba Osteria. I'm a big fan of regionalized and focused cuisine, and Alba is no exception. It isn't just Italian, it's Piedmontese. Alba and Simpatica are high on my local to-do list.

          Why haven't I been yet? I've been spending too much time at Tanuki. They're in the middle of their soft open, and so they only have booze on the weekends, but it's a Japanese izakaya that's been given a sophisticated twist. The menu changes daily, but it's been quite exciting just to see what's new on every trip.

          1. Higgins is a splendid representative of the local food culture there. He's an amazing guy and I think you'd be happy with it.

            Are you going to hit the farmer's market? I really think that's the premier PDX foodie experience. Even if you're in a hotel. Snag some local cheese and wine and Ken's bread...heaven. If you see the Monteillet Fromagerie there, don't miss it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Vetter

              We were very surprised to be able to get a last minute table at Higgins last January (on a symphony night, of which we had no clue). If you like oh my, go there and have their charcuterie was lovely...