Lardo, Roe and Evoe
Had some good food here last weekend and thought I'd write it up.
Just stopped by for lunch on Saturday. We had 2 sandwiches and shared them: The Pork Meatball Banh Mi and Korean Pork with Kimchi.
Both were good, but we liked the Korean Pork better. The bread was the same ciabatta roll for both, but the Korean Pork was made with pork shoulder and braised, while the Pork "meatball" was more reminiscent of a breakfast sausage patty. The condiments were great on each, it just came down to the meat.
Did an impromptu Sunday lunch here. Had the deviled eggs, which were tasty and quite spicy, which we like, but might be a bit strong for some. Shared the endive salad (simple but good) and ono fish sandwich with avocado lime aioli on brioche bun. Quality fish and bread, but the overall flavor of the sandwich was lacking. It was extremely mild, perhaps so as not to overpower the fish, but the end result was just mild/bland. Even a little more salt may have done the trick. This was our first trip here, but we will go back and try it again based on what we saw and other reviews on this board.
As many of you know, this is a restaurant within a restaurant (in the back room at Wafu) and only open Thurs, Fri, Sat nights. We went Saturday night early and sat at the counter. We had made reservations, which I recommend, especially if you want to do the Chef's Tasting Menu. This is essentially the entire menu (10 courses), slightly smaller than what we saw go out as the regular dishes, and costs $100. If you want this option, it is recommended that you call the restaurant to arrange it - you can't opt for it when you show up for your reservation. Also, you have to sit at the counter, which is a straight 4-seater. This would not be quite as convenient for conversation if you went as a party of 4. Other options are a $65 4 course (you choose the items), or just ordering a la carte.
As some have mentioned on Yelp, it is in a dark room (which was a darn shame this past Saturday!) and has little, if any ventilation. We planned for the latter and did not take jackets in with us. We did smell a bit like fried food when all was said and done.
So we ended up with 10 courses for $100. Yes, it is a lot of money, but the quality of the food was excellent and we were there for 3 hours and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Our menu included (their menu description in parentheses):
Spot prawns (carpaccio of spot prawn, santa barbara sea uni, white soy ponzu, rice crisps, wakame, spot prawn aioli)
- The spot prawn was pounded to nearly invisible and placed over the uni. The other ingredients ware placed on top of the carpaccio. Nice flavors. The uni was excellent.
Au Fish (ceviche of hawaiian au fish, smoked nuoc cham, thai herb emulsion, freeze dried corn, shallot, lime sugar crisp)
- Might have been my favorite dish of the night. The end result was a ceviche that tasted very much like a Thai larb dish, not surprising given the components of the dish. I could have eaten 3 of these.
Kampachi (sashimi of kona kampachi, shaved frozen foie gras, wasabi tobiko, brioche, ginger-coriander & grapefruit emulsion)
- I don't think I've had fish with foie in any form before. All the components were fine, but the combination just missed a bit. Not a bad dish, just not amongst our favorite of the evening.
Nairagi Toro (sashimi of striped marlin toro, charred ramps, avocado mousse, smoked steelhead roe, popcorn, achiote sauce)
- One of my top 3 of the night. The sashimi with the achiote sauce was very good, the charred ramps added a nice smoky component. Probably did not need the popcorn.
Scallop-Blue Prawn (blue prawn & diver scallop mousseline, poached scallop & prawn, smoked dashi, white miso, shaved bonito)
- The other top 3 dish. The poached prawn and scallops were incredibly soft and buttery and the broth was excellent. My partner's favorite dish of the night.
Razor Clam (butter-poached oregon razor clams, truffled clam tapioca, domestic sturgeon caviar, potato espuma, crisp potato)
- A very nice way to prepare razor clams; they were very supple and I enjoyed this dish very much.
Butterfish (seared porcini dusted butterfish, parmesan dashi, truffle ponzu, hedghog mushroom, porcini espuma)
- Great flavor on the fish, which was dense and almost steak-like (but not tough). Served with a nice broth.
Mero Sea Bass (olive oil poached antarctic tooth fish, maine lobster forbidden rice, crab chip, radish, sorrel, lobster nage)
- Again another buttery soft piece of fish. The lobster was incorporated into the rice and had a nice texture.
** At this point I was about to pass out, but 2 more courses were coming. I swore I would only taste them, but ended up finishing them for the most part. **
Cheese (cremeux de bourgogne, quince sorbet, hazelnut crumble)
- A nice, small, composed cheese course that I enjoyed very much.
Chocolate (dehydrated chocolate mousse, coffee ganache, whiskey caramel, marshmallow gelato)
- Finished this one off easily and had to fight off my partner, who wanted to steal some of mine. Loved the combination.
So, that was our first, but not last, meal at Roe. It is seriously good food and ranks near the top in PDX at the moment for me. Go if you can.
Having been to Italy about 18 times in the last 20 years, and having had LOTS of REAL porchetta and real LARDO, I must say this local joint is rather laughable. Flavors are silly. Having said that, the dirty fries, or whatever they are called, are sort of tasty...such as they are. Oh, the prices are stupid also....
I won't be returning. But so what. Y'all enjoy!!!! (I would say the same to McDonald's or Burgerville patrons!!!) :)