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Chef's counter: Roe and Le Pigeon

I am visiting PDX from San Francisco in May for the first time. After going through some past discussions, I am getting excited about Roe. As a solo diner, ideally would love to sit at the counter for chef’s tasting. The web site says it only takes 1 reservation per night, up to 4 diners. Does that mean a single seating, or a single party?

I am also interested in Le Pigeon. OpenTable says it accepts reservation for communal table, but walk-in for chef’s counter. Is there a requirement for tasting menu at chef’s counter? I do not think I am up to 2 tasting menus in one trip.

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  1. Don't know much about Roe but I highly recommend Le Pigeon. I've been everywhere in Seattle and nobody up here can hold a candle to Chef Rucker's artistry and daring technique. I've made sure to visit them during my last few jaunts to PDX and having experienced three tasting menus by now, I recall every bite of every course being complex and exquisite. To answer your question -- I don't think it's required. During my second visit, a gentleman sitting next to me enjoyed one of their decadent burgers which is served a la carte.

    Based on some strong write-ups (on that other site, from reviewers whose opinions I regard highly), I'd definitely visit both if I were you. The food at Le Pigeon tends to be rich so consider the five-course (rather than seven). When I did this option during my very first visit, I remember being sated but not overly stuffed... but the meal was so sublime that towards the end, I actually regretted not going the full distance.

    1. Roe only has 4 seats at the counter, and you have to specify that you want the chef's counter when you make your reservation. Not sure about party/seats but when we were there (2 of us) we were the only ones at the counter.

      Spring for the extra caviar course...I have never had blinis as amazing as those tiny circles of deliciousness...and the caviar was delicious too. ;o)

      1. Yes, go to Roe and sit at the counter. You do have to specify you want the counter and tasting menu when you reserve. And I have always called to speak to a person rather than trust that my written request on OpenTable will be seen. I think it is just 1 reservation. The 2 times we have done it no one joined us at the other 2 seats. Hurry and make your reservation if you have not already done so.

        1. Having just been to both restaurants last month, I can say that you do not have to do the tasting menu if you sit at the counter at Le Pigeon. My friend and I had an early reservation and asked to sit there and then had the option of either a la carte or the tasting menu. We just shared several dishes. It was amazing and great to talk to the guys while they were cooking.
          Roe, I didn't ask for the Chef's counter because I couldn't see spending the money. On the other hand, the four course menu at the tables was wonderful, the wine pairings amazing, and we got the caviar to start, so we ended up spending a good amount of money. I really think it is the best restaurant in PDX but Le Pigeon is right next to it, in my opinion.

          1. No...you can order whatever you like at the chef 's counter at Le Pigeon. Ate there last Saturday and it was a real treat watching Chef Gabriel. He also is very generous! Saw me ogling the fois gras profiteroles being devoured by my neighbors, and gave me one. Truly outrageous...fois gras ice cream in a cream puff with a delicious sweet syrup. Eating this after a full order of fois, and the wonderfully tender and fatty beef cheek, I was ready for a visit yo my cardiologist! Really wonderful...oh I did have a light dessert...saffron tangerine sorbet! Very delicious.

            1. Thanks, everyone. I made the inquiry at Roe, and they got back to me today. Basically the Chef's counter is reserved for a single party each night, reserved months ahead.

              I am a little disappointed. Otherwise it would be perfect setting for a solo diner. If I have a companion on this trip, we could order different dish for each course. There is less desire to go for the long tasting menu.

              1. I'm from Seattle and asked myself this exact question last time I came down for Feast. I ended up going to Roe and it was amazing, exceeded all expectations. We have nothing in Seattle that is on that level unfortunately.

                They must have changed their policy though. When I went (Late September 2013), my girlfriend and I sat at the counter, with another couple who we didn't know. They did not book the 10 course full chefs tasting menu though and had only 4 courses, but still sat at the counter. In any case you gotta book it far out. I booked like 1.5 months out or so. Totally worth it though, Roe is an experience not to be missed. Also because it's in Portland it is relatively inexpensive. If Roe were in NY or L.A. the price could easily be twice as high for the same meal. Can't wait to hear about your experiences at Roe.

                1. OK, reservations are made at Roe and Le Pigeon. Plan to leave the rest of trip open. I have been browsing this board for the last couple of days. Noticed good discussions on coffee, will definitely seek out when I am in Portland. In addition, I would like to hear some advice on:
                  * Iconic northwest fish (salmon and halibut) is on menu at almost every restaurant. Where can I find it particularly well prepared?
                  * Restaurants with good vegetable dishes.
                  * Restaurants with good cheese plate.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: foggy_town

                    Natural Selection has great vegetable dishes. It's a four course vegetarian tasting menu.

                    1. re: foggy_town

                      Great veggie dishes can be found at places like American Local, Ava Gene's, and Ox (everything is good at Ox, fish (halibut alert!), veggies...and yeah, they make steak too ;o).

                      Hey, Ox also does a good cheese plate! ;o)

                      If you really love a good cheese plate, go to the source, Cheese Bar...they have five different cheese boards.
                      http://www.cheese-bar.com/Cheese%20Ba...

                      I'd also suggest Boxer Sushi for fish - do the omakase, $45 is a great deal for such great quality and such delicious preps for sashimi (there's also nigiri and rolls, as well as miso soup, greens, and a pickle course...ending with a mochi from Bubbie's (flown in from Hawaii, the best ice cream mochi I have ever had anywhere). I know you have great sushi in SF, but you'd never get this quality at this price there. Not all the fish is local, but some of it always is - I have had fabulous fresh albacore, wonderful local uni (sometimes comes in live!), great OR Dungeness crab and other local sea creatures.

                      1. re: foggy_town

                        I had a wonderful dinner at Andina with a vegetarian friend. Potatoes, of course, are a major ingredient in Peruvian cuisine...and there were other excellent vegetarian choices...beautiful asparagus preparation, salads, quinoa, etc. I know that these aren't all "good vegetable dishes", but some certainly are.

                        1. re: foggy_town

                          Thanks for all the suggestions, I now have a good list to work with (and to trim down). It is indeed high praise for Ox as a steak house to get recommended for seafood/vegetable. Would check it out if not for the long wait. Besides, the menu looks good for sharing. I can wait for next time in PDX when I have a companion. Sushi in SF is actually a step below NY/LA. It is always great for solo dining, and a good addition to the lineup.

                        2. Reporting back (mainly on Roe):

                          Although I was unable to book the chef's counter initially, I made reservation for 1 anyway at Roe. Shortly before the trip, they called me: they were changing the policy starting in June to make chef's tasting menu available to everyone (at 6:15 seating only). Would I be interested? Yes and I went.. The format has indeed changed. There is no longer counter seating. Chef's tasting menu is served at all tables. I am not going to detail, suffice to say that my expectation is easily met, and exceeded, truly "worth a journey".

                          I had to cancel the reservation at Le Pigeon, and cannot comment on the food.