Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Le Pigeon - Portland, OR

Featured on Unique Eats.

I have a list of 10 Must Try Portland Restaurants.  Le Pigeon was on top of the list but now I can cross it off.  Did it meet expectations after months of anticipation?

I snagged at seat at the chef's counter.  If I'm ever offered the opportunity, I'll always sit at the chef's counter.  It's where the action is. It's where the learning is. It's free entertainment.

James Beard winner Gabe Rucker was in chatting with his staff tonight and not working the kitchen. I always think of Darius when I hear the Rucker name.  You know how often a person is shorter in real life than he appears in pictures? This wasn't the case with Rucker being immensely taller than I perceived. The chef with his back pictured prepared my entrĂ©e this evening. 

Beef Cheek Bourguignon.  It was cooked ahead and refrigerated. I saw the chef take it out of the refrigerator. The cheek was braised for 14 hours in Pinot Noir. The chef worked the meat over in  a single serving sized skillet and spooned the sauce continually. The result of the braising and reheating was a fork tender cheek heated thoroughly through and sodden with flavor. The braising in wine left the beef with that distinct wine minerally bitter afternote and an enhanced brininess.

The mashed potatoes with Gruyere and red onions broiled to a golden yellow were world class, simply one of the best I've had anywhere. Well seasoned, flavorful, cheesy, creamy yet still retaining grainy sized bits of potato to give it a pleasing textural mouthfeel.

The carrots were cooked to medium with a range of soft to medium to crunchy bites.  It was drizzled with a dark sauce with hints of soy sauce and balsamic with an assumed olive oil base.

Service was knowledgeable, approachable, a combination of cool and warm, and casual yet observant.  I dropped my napkin on the floor and a waiter who wasn't mind came over and gave me a fresh one.

The dry soda at $4 was a markup special.

Bottom Line: The bourguignon wasn't exactly what I thought it would be but it met expectation in terms of quality, taste, and output of a bourguignon.  I had no expectation of the dish arriving with the mashed potatoes but the potatoes far exceeded expectations.  The bourguignon was excellent and the potatoes OMG.

Restroom Rating:  7.9  clean but dimly lit.  Bright lights would reveal the care.

Le Pigeon on Urbanspoon

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