PORTLAND, OR. – Oregon is a feast for the senses, your cultural point of view, and the palate. Sometimes the Rose City is all three sensory sensations at once.
I spent Sunday night in downtown Portland before heading out to Willamette Valley wine country a little later this morning.
Sunday night dinner was with an old Wabash friend, David Newhart, at a somewhat traditional French bistro. This morning I’m up early and visiting the city’s six-location Blue Star Donuts. Portland is known for Voodoo donuts and they’re pretty
darn good. So I decided to try this upstart ‘donuts for adults’ shop downtown.
Just look at pic above. No ordinary chocolate donut – the chocolate was a deeply rich ganache with chopped almonds. Crazy adult flavors like pumpkin spice pana cotta, passion fruit cake and tons of others. Or how about lemon poppy seed buttermilk. (which might be my second donut!)
The donuts are delicious. They use all natural and organic ingredients. And as you might expect, they come at an adult, gourmet price of $3-4 each – that’s right – each! Locals will tell you to try this new kid on the block. I’m convinced.
On the flip side, I really was anticipating dinner last night at Bistro Agnes. The spot was opened by two heralded James Beard award-winning chefs. I can’t say i was disappointed by I was not wowed by this strategically located downtown home of traditional French dishes.
I had the French onion soup, just call me a cliche’, and it was very nice. The soup had a rich flavored beef broth which could have used a few more onions, croutons, and even a couple small bites of beef. The gruyere topping was the hit of the dish. Delicious. David had the smoked salmon carpaccio, Radish, cucumber, and dill was an excellent cold appetizer.
My dinner went south with my main course. I love fish and have always found French-prepared white fish to be delightful. I ordered the Petrale Sole Meuniere featuring sauteed green beans, potato puree, brown butter, and capers.
The fish was nicely seared and cooked perfectly but the brown butter (and it was swimming in butter) along with the capers made the dish salty and difficult bites at times. The green beans were flavorless. With $13 on the soup, $27 for the fish, and $14 for a very nice glass of Sancere, it wasn’t terribly expensive. I was just hoping for more on the delivery.
With that said, it’s refreshing to see chefs concentrate on the classics – and by no means was it a bad meal. I’d love to go back and give Bistro Agnes a second try.