Davis Street Tavern

I haven’t had a bad dining experience in Portland.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Portland is a “total foodie town” but it’s fair to say it does well for itself.  It’s size and limited diversity will always be the limiting factor in its rise to greatness like the cities of LA, SF, and NYC.  I think there are probably more restaurants out there that are solid, but it doesn’t seem like a lot of people Yelp about it enough.  So that also limits my ability to come across the good finds.

Davis Street Tavern is a well reviewed good little find in Portland.  Solid New American cuisine that’s not too fancy, but probably pricier than most would be willing to shell out.  Nice, spacious, and pretty happening for a Friday night with a live bluesy rock band.   Dumpling Man opted for the 5 course tasting menu at $48 while I choose some things a la carte.

Kunamoto Oyster fresh cucumber, pickled shallot, rainbow trout roe *tasting menu*

I’ve never quite acquired the love for oysters.  It’s just one of those things that taste too much like the ocean for my liking.  But I certainly can appreciate people’s love for this raw shellfish.  In fact, I’ve had a wonderful oyster or two and they were fresh, perfectly chilled, briney, and always highlighted by some wonderful flavors.  This version for instance had the pickled shallots for that contrasting flavor and crunchy texture also enhanced by the cucumbers.  

Dungeness Crab Bisque roasted artichoke, fines herbs *tasting menu*

The bisque was lovely.  Creamy with superb crabby flavor.  A sweet saltiness lingered in my mouth with ever slurp.  Large hunks of fresh dungeness crab topped the hearty soup.  No complaints here.

Seared Albacore Carpaccio avocaodo & watercress salad, roasted tomato vinaigrette

This dish was good, but probably lacked a certain refinement or restraint.  The proportion of avocado and roasted tomato salsa was a tad overwhelming for the delicate slices of tuna, but all the flavors were well balanced in the end.  The bland palate of tuna was dressed up with the tart and strong tomato salsa, the smooth creamy avocados, and the subtle bite of watercress.  I don’t know why they called it a vinaigretted because it was a pile of tomatoes, garlic, onions, olive oil, and who knows what else but it was almost like a tapenade without any olives.  Overall, I liked the dish.

Artichoke & Black Grape Salad chevre croquette, fennel, red onion, marcona almond, satsuma vinaigrette *tasting menu*

I appreciate a salad that is made up of more than just lettuce.  There was not a bit of leafy green to be found here.  It was all a rather interesting medley of things I would never think to put in a salad, things that I would never commonly eat on my own.  I only eat green or red grapes for that matter as well.  It all worked nicely here.  The sweet grapes were well balanced by the herby fennel, the slightly pungent red onions, and the creamy sharp chevre with its crunchy fried exterior.   Everything was rounded out by the crunchy almonds.  Somehow you can’t go wrong with a light sprinkling of some nut on your food.

Carlton Farms Double Cut Pork Loin white bean cilantro puree, toasted cumin slaw, green apple & jalapeno reduction *tasting menu*

Although the pork was well cooked, very moist and all, I did not like any of the accompanying flavors.  It was all overwhelming sweet.  I still don’t understand why people insist on pair pork with things like apple.  What really is it about pork that makes it go with apples?  Sometimes the combination is a real winner, but here it was too much sugar for me.  Dumpling Man did not seem to mind this dish.

Seared Sea Scallops parsnip & coconut puree, sugar snap peas, warm pancetta vinaigrette

The scallops had a nice caramelization on them, but I didn’t get why it was only on one side.  They were the star of the dish, but I didn’t really care for the coconut aspect of the puree.  It was another element of sweetness I didn’t want with my tasty scallops.  I didn’t really get any hint of pancetta vinaigrette. 

Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding black pepper bourbon sauce, cardamon whipped cream *tasting menu*

I couldn’t remember much from this dessert.  It was moist, warm, and not overwhelming sweet.

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Pretty standard.

Dulce De Leche “Grilled Cheese” callabeut hot chocolate

This was their signature dessert per the waiter.  It sounded so strange, but only added to our intrigue.  Grilled cheese for dessert?  Perhaps it was a sweet cream cheese like a cheesecake?  No, it was in fact white cheddar with a smattering of dulce de leche and then sandwiched between 2 slices of bread served with hot chocolate that was used more for dipping than for drinking.   We all dug in and were pleasantly surprised.  The cheese was much more mild than expected, and its sweet notes were enhanced by the subtle taste of dulce de leche.  It was really all brought together by the decadent hot chocolate.  It was delicious!

Despite the 2 disappointing main entrees, I enjoyed everything else.   Davis Street Tavern is definitely serving up some solid food.  I don’t recommend the 2 entrees unless you enjoy sweet things with your savory.  Some of the other entrees looked appetizing.  Because there are just too many other places to try, I might not make a trip back for a while.  The place has a bar which looked like a nice place to hang out and maybe get some quick bites since I liked the appetizers better than the entrees.  That dessert alone may be a reason to come here just once.


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