After only a short time in Portland, I feel like I’ve eaten at most of the big name restaurants, Beast, Andina, Paley’s Place, etc.  With Valentine’s Day approaching, I was worried there wasn’t going to be a restaurant special or fancy enough to truly celebrate the occasion.  Dumpling Man and I don’t like to repeat restaurants.  We always like new stuff, new house, new furniture, new food.  It’s amazing we haven’t ditched each other for new significant others.  My first choice, Le Pigeon, was all booked up.  So I went with Noisette which is a relatively new restaurant in the Portland dining scene.  It’s only been open for 2 years or so and only has about 7 reviews on Yelp.  So it was definitely a gamble, but their menu looked appetizing and after my good luck with Blue Hour, I was hopeful.

It’s not a great way to start off your Valentine’s day being 45 minutes late, so you can’t blame me for being a bit miffed when Dumpling Man asked if we could move the reservation back a bit since he was “overworked” and running late.  Fortunately, the restaurant was totally accommodating.  I can see why, because as a restaurant with only 30-40 seats, we were really part of the last seating.  So it really made no difference if we showed up at 7:45 or 8:30pm.  Once the food starting rolling in, my unhappiness quickly evaporated.  I don’t think Dumpling Man could be any luckier being with someone who’s mood can be so easily brightened just with good food.

For Valentine’s Day, Noisette was offering a special 8 course pre fixe menu for the whopping price of $125!  Uh, yeah that’s what I said, but the life we live before we have kids is too short, so better live it to the fullest before it’s overrun with drooling screaming rug rats.  I’m gonna be an auntie soon, and a great one to boot, can’t you tell?!  

Housemade Brioche

These were quite dry and disappointing.  Not a good start.

Shigoku Oyster sautéed sweet pea tendrils, warm lobster creme

It’s rare to have cooked oysters, but these were quite delicate and still maintained the sweet brine you get when it’s raw.  The lobster creme was a bit salty but it packed a ton of lobster flavor, which was wonderful.  I soaked up the creme with the dry brioche and I loved it.

Dungeness Crab avocado salad, shallots, assorted radishes, frisee, citrus vinaigrette, extra virgin olive oil

This was a wonderful next starter.  Every element was bright and refreshing.  The radishes were crunchy.  The avocado was smooth and buttery.  The crab was light but meaty.  It was all so simple but delicious.

Organic Cauliflower Soup white sturgeon caviar, creme fraiche, chives

Fantastic.  Creamy, vegetal, earthy, packed with umami.  The caviar was such a subtle touch but worked in nicely.

BC Diver Scallop arborio rice, asparagus tip, oregon black truffle salad, celery root sauce

Definitely not as wonderfully caramelized as the scallops at Bluehour, but overall a more refined delicate tastiness.  The rice and celery root sauce were luscious and creamy, but not overpowering.  Honestly, that slice of black truffle which I’m sure cost $$$ added absolutely NO flavor.  So sad.

Idaho White Sturgeon pecan wood smoked, french fingerling potato puree, aromatic brunoise vegetables, leek creme, red wine reduction, australian pumpkin seed oil

I was pretty full at this point, but I had to march on.  The fish was probably the weaker of the main entree dishes.  The fish was either undercooked or not hot enough or both.  Still though, all the many components on the dish played nicely together.  So beautiful.

Heritage Duck Liver toasted brioche, red banana puree, sauternes sauce

This was hands down, THE BEST DISH of the night.  Seriously, this comes as a very close second to the foie gras dish I had at Gary Denko.  Who would have EVER thought bananas and foie gras would go together???  AMAZING and BRILLIANT combination!!!  It’s a good thing they make their brioche on the dry side because it went balanced perfectly with the decadent piece of foie.  I definitely need to come back to just have this dish.  It’s definitely making it to the list of “best things i ever ate.”

Oregon Natural New York Strip and Painted Hills Short Rib 

organic yukon gold potatoes, fried shallots, black trumpet mushrooms, baby roasted gold beets, red wine reduction, chives

To no surprised, I ate the last course in it’s entirety and by now I was dying.  It was sooo much amazing food, and there was not much room left for beef.  It was really a nice dish though.  Very earthy and humble.  An elevated version of “meat & potatoes.”

Valrhona Chocolate Souffle passion fruit sauce

It was coming upon midnight by this time and both Dumpling Man and myself were incredibly sleepy and stuffed, but dessert had yet to be served.  Now the best soufflé I’ve ever had was in fact in Portland at Veritable Quandry.  This version was far from that.  It was sweet without flavor and the texture was all off, sorta too liquidy in the center.  The passion fruit sauce didn’t add much either.

Mignardise raspberry macarons

We just had obligatory nibbles of these.

Mignardise chocolates filled with wild flower honey

They love the wildflower honey up here.

Holy moly, Noisette went above and beyond all expectations I had!!  It seriously blew some LA heavyweights out of the water.  Places like Hatfield’s, Grace, Jiraffe, Melisse, and Patina would be comparable restaurants to draw comparisons.  Noisette, BY FAR, destroys these places!  Everything was DELICIOUS and execution was spot on.  My only 3 complaints would be that the lobster creme was a bit salty, the fish was a bit undercooked, and the dessert left much to be desired.  Seriously though, these missteps are easily forgiven when you take in the amount of skill and refinement that went in to creating one damn good meal.  The crab salad? Delightful!  The cauliflower soup? Lip smacking!  The foie gras?  AMAZE-BALLS!  Noisette has to be THE BEST RESTAURANT in Portland for fine dining.  If you got money to spend and a special occasion to celebrate, come here!!  Noisette deserves the same attention places like Providence and Gary Denko receive in their respective cities.  If you come to Portland, you better make Noisette one of your destinations.


1937 NW 23rd Place
PortlandOR 97210

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