Apparently I’ve started a tradition. Clarklewis began my Dining Month Portland reports last year. I hadn’t realized it, but I hadn’t been in since. As with Tabla, it tends to be a place I think about when I think about pasta and I don’t think about pasta very often. But I could do a lot worse than returning to Clarklewis which has been a sold restaurant through multiple owners and multiple chefs.
The host didn’t grab the menu from the host stand as he began to seat us, so my wife cleverly grabbed one.
Gathering Together arugula with Oregon blue cheese terrine, roasted beets, glazed walnuts and sherry vinaigrette
Housemade tagliatelle with SuDan Farm lamb ragu, rosemary and pecorino toscano
Olive oil pound cake with Viridian strawberries and sabayon
$5 Drink Specials
Fabla Calatayud Tempranillo/Garnacha Spain ‘09
Por Tuga Casa Santos Lima Portugal ‘10
Only the pasta was part of the normal menu, $19 for the full portion, or $14 for the smaller portion. The meal comes with the large portion. If we assume that the dessert would be $8 like most of the others and the salad $11 like most of the others, then the Dining Month Portland menu, at a normal cost of $38, is very good value.
The salad (pictured at the beginning of this report) had a foundation of fork-tender roasted beets topped with toasted baguette, young arugula and a slice of blue cheese terrine. The slice of terrine had a more uniform and lighter texture than straight blue cheese, but still all the flavor. Crunchy glazed walnuts added both a sweet and bitter element to the delicious salad, my favorite course of the night.
The tagliatelle was perhaps a little thick, but it worked well with the hearty lamb ragu. The tender lamb’s gaminess was offset by the light sweet and tangy flavor of the ragu. It was a hefty portion. We took home half and had it for lunch the next day.
The meal finished with a moist olive oil pound cake with a soft, caramel-color crust. The strawberries on the side weren’t over-sugared and just tasted naturally sweet and a little tart. A sabayon added some sweetness and richness without overpowering the other delicate parts of the dessert.
All the dishes were enjoyable and it was clearly a generous discount on their normal prices. We also got a few other dishes.
We ordered the pork belly with braised fennel, radish salad, and pink peppercorn jus ($14) to start. To me, the jus had a citrusy flavor more than peppery flavor. Either way, I enjoyed it and it contrasted well with the rich pork belly. The best part, though, was the braised fennel hidden behind the pork belly it props up in the photo above. It was slightly caramelized on top and fork tender, its anise quality mellowed by the braising.
While not bad, the only disappointing dish was the roast pork with polenta, braising greens, wild sorrel, and rhubarb glaze ($26). The pork, still pink in parts, was a little dry and didn’t have much of a crust to it. The polenta was too cold making it a bit clumpy, though it was obviously cooked correctly and still had a creamy mouthfeel. The braised greens, though, between the polenta and meat were good and the rhubarb glaze added a sweet-tart element that went well with the pork.
We were sent out a second dessert, the dark chocolate pound cake with salted caramel gelato and butter toffee walnuts ($8). The pound cake had a nice texture, denser and less moist than the olive oil pound cake, but its flavor was a little harsh. Too often, I think, items become extra chocolatey by use of mediocre chocolate or some harsh Dutch processed cocoa powder. Granted, I’m very picky about chocolate, but to me this tasted harsh and displayed none of the nuance or breadth of flavors dark chocolate can. Luckily the sweetness of the gelato and caramel sauce, along with the toffee walnuts, largely balanced out this harshness and made for an enjoyable dessert.
Another good meal. 2 for 2. Let’s hope this keeps up.
1001 SE Water Ave
Portland, OR 97214