Paley’s Place

My tour of Portland’s fine dining establishments continues with Paley’s Place.  It is owned by executive chef Vitaly Paley, who was awarded the 2005 James Beard Award for Best Chef Northwest.  It’s located in a Victorian style house in the Northwest area of Portland.  Reviews on Yelp complained about the place being small and cramped.  I imagined the place would be quaint and full of “character.” Surprisingly, it turned out to be quiet modern and decently spacious inside.

I was peeved that we had to wait an extra 30 minutes for your reservation.  Finally they gave us teeny tiny glasses of some special apple cider to sip on.  Seriously, it didn’t taste any different than Treetop Apple Juice with some bubbles, but appreciated their effort to quell my brewing annoyance.

Amuse Bouche tuna salad

I was not so impressed with this little bite.  It was a bit on the fishy side using cooked tuna.  The addition of eggs and olives didn’t make the bite any better.

Chilled Oysters on the Half Shell Hog Island (WA), Blue Pool (WA), Hamma Hamma (WA)

In choosing appetizers, Paley’s Place has a selection of house made charcuterie and some French classics like steamed mussels, beef tartare, escargots, etc.  While I would have loved to try some of the charcuterie and mussels, I decided to step outside my comfort zone and stray away from all my usual favorites.  I’m pretty sure there would be no surprises to those usual staples.  So instead, I went with the oysters, which I really enjoyed.  Salty, sweet, briny, bright, with just a touch of lemon juice and we had us some good bites.

Local Butter Lettuce Salad crispy sweet onions, house ranch dressing

We’ve had some good experiences with salads these days, but unfortunately this was pretty boring.  It literally was lettuce and crispy onions.  No surprises here.  

Roasted Beets horseradish cream

Yum!  Beets!  Sweet, tender, juicy, with a touch of creaminess.  Perfect bites.  I’m going to have to investigate making beets at home.  Seems like something simple and delicious enough.

Spit-Roasted Pork Shoulder bacon braised cabbage, boiled potatoes, pork jus (half order)

This was probably my least favorite entree, not because anything was particularly bad.  It’s just that the other dishes were more stellar.  The pork was moist with a slightly crispy and spicy exterior rub.  The bacon braised cabbage was tangy and sweet with undertones of smoky bacon.

Maine Diver Scallops a la Plancha sunchoke puree, carrots, mushrooms, blood orange gastrique (half order)

What an amazing scallop!  It was sweet, meaty, with a perfectly caramelized crisp exterior.  I wish I could have eaten 6 of them.

Rabbit Ravioli house bacon, local mushrooms, butternut, garlic (half order)

I love housemade raviolis.  It seems like they can hardly ever go wrong.  I want to try making pastas at home.  The bacon, mushrooms contributed to a really homey taste to the perfectly prepared and satisfying bites of ravioli.

Spanish Beignets blood orange, candied fennel, goats milk ice cream

How could fried dough be disappointing?  The beignets just fell a little flat.  They lacked taste if that’s possible, a sort of richness you would expect.  The ice cream had a strange grainyness to it.  The candied fennel had too strong an anis taste to it.  Dessert just could have been better.

Mignardise coconut macaroon

Not a big fan of coconut.

Despite the disappointing desserts, I really loved my meal here.  The entrees were strong and the option for half sized orders allowed us great flexibility.  I definitely would like to come back and try the house made charcuterie.  Hopefully there won’t be such a long wait for our reservations.  I’ll have to add that the waitress gave us complimentary samples of one of the popular dessert wines.  It was much appreciated.

Paley’s Place

1204 Northwest 21st Avenue

Portland, OR 97209-1609

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