Simpatica Dining Hall - Portland (Review)
For those of you not familiar, Simpatica is the restaurant outlet of the catering company by the same name, and also by the operators of viande, a top meat market here. The restaurant is open only Friday and Saturday nites, and Sunday brunch. Reservations required for dinner, not for brunch. You make reservations by signing up for their email list, and you receive that week's menu by email on Tuesday. You RSVP reservation request and they confirm by fone. They require a cc for reservations, if you don't show, they charge you, but issue a gift certificate in the same amount you can use @ a later date. Place holds about 60 people at 4 long "family style" tables. Menu last nite was:
Cornmeal-Fried Trout Salad with Curly Endive, Fried Lemons and Brown Butter Vinaigrette
Whole Rotisserie-Grilled Carlton Farms Pig Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Ozark BBQ Sauce and Slaw
Braised Collard Greens with Smoked Ham Hocks
Cherry Tomato and Beet Salad
Bing Cherry Cobbler with Vanilla Ice Creams
(these guys love pork!). Everything was excellent. The entree and salads were served plated, the balance was family style. I don't think I have ever seen fried lemons before, they were the rind, free of pulp, dusted in cornmeal, fried, served like onion ring accompaniement on the salad and delicious.
They had slow roasted the whole pig, and taken all the meat, chopped, mixed, for the sandwiches. The sauce was a ketchup base, not a vinegar. The chef comes out at the beginning, explains where he bought everything (local farms and markets) and how it was prepared. $35 a head, drinks extra. Dinner for two, drinks, tip, $105. Interesting mix of people, they have seating arrangements figured in advance. Sat down at 6:55, left @ 9:50PM. Some delay @ the end processing all those credit cards, but not a complaint.
We'll return, for sure.
I've been to Simpatica twice, but the last time was a year and a half ago (I don't live in Portland, otherwise I'd go more often). Both times the food was EXCELLENT. Very different - the first time we went for a tuna feast and the second time was homestyle Japanese with the help of a guest chef.
The location is a little funky - in the basement of an old (school?) building and it can be tough making reservations. They seat you at communal tables, which I usually dislike, but it's worked at Simpatica both times I've been there, I think because they serve everyone at the same time so you're not seated next to people who are already eating, etc.