Dining at Oregon Culinary Institute In Portland
We took our 3 sons to OCI a few weeks ago when we were visiting them in Portland. We were very pleased with the service and the food, and shocked at the $14 price!
As you would expect, the restaurant is staffed and managed by students at the Culinary Institute, under supervision of their instructors.
You might expect that this results in a dining experience that varies considerably with the experience and ability of the students on staff at any particular time, and you'd be right about that. Some students get A's, a few flunk out, most get C's and B's. Your experience on any given night will reflect this.
That said, if you're feeling adventurous, and are willing to risk inconsistency and the occasional deep disappointment, you can have some good meals here on the cheap.
like getting your haircut at a barber college, you run the chance of a less-than-perfect experience but, for the most part, you get very good value for very little cash. the students (both front and back of the house) are eager to please which by itself makes for a pleasant meal. the kitchen is anxious to excel in the newest techniques and the dining room is learning the all-important people skills. go with an open mind and cheery attitude and you will have a fine time.
I have had two lunches and a dinner there and it is a good value for the money (a 4-course $14 dinner served at 7pm, 4-courses for $9 for lunch at noon). Many things have been very good, a few things have missed the mark (they are students, after all).
One of the things I have noticed is that the further along in the class cycle they are (the longer the students have been in the kitchen), the better the experience. Makes sense, of course.
The room is very nice and the service is usually very good. They use very good quality ingredients, have a decent wine list (also with great prices), and offer $1 soft drinks (the iced tea and the lemonade is always good there) with free refills.
Go for it, Alexa, and let us know what you think.