I had been wanting to go to Woodsman Tavern for a long long time and finally got around to it thanks to some friends. Verde, Perpetually Underwhelmed, The Gunner (though she’s not doing much of that anymore these days), Big Spoon, joined me for some good ole grubbin’.
Marinated Octopus pickled lemon, oregano capers
This was a big disappointment. It had a fishiness to it that I could not overcome. Big Spoon and Verde did not seem to mind it. Texturally, it was meaty without being too rubbery or too soft. I’ll give this one a pass but I wouldn’t order it again.
Pacific Coast Oyster on the Half Shell Kusshi (BC), Sea Cows (WA), Shigoku (WA)
Pacific Uni grapefruit vinaigrette
I love me some oysters! I can’t remember which were which, but I loved them all! They were fresh, sweet, briny, and meaty on the whole. I think oysters taste great with just a squeeze of lemon, no mignonette or horse radish needed usually. I thought the uni was well done with an interesting flavor profile from the tangy vinaigrette. Perpetually Underwhelmed seemed unimpressed (duh, look at her name!) and preferred her uni unadulterated.
Domestic Ham Plate sweet butter, biscuit, pickles
La Quercia (Norfolk, IA), Broadbent (Kuttawa, KY), Benton’s (Madisonville, TN)
I’m sure the folks in Iowa, Kentucky, and Tennessee are damn proud of their ham, but in all honestly, it tasted like a lower quality Italian prosciutto. I’ll even take Spanish jamón over domestic ham. All of these cured ham products are salty as heck (which I love btw), but somehow the European versions have more depth of flavor. I definitely appreciated the pickled collard greens which helped balance out the salty ham. The bread and butter just served as good palate cleansers in between bites of ham. If you go here, you should definitely get the ham plate because its unique and still good.
Meatloaf mashed potatoes, fried onions
Big Spoon seemed to like his classic American dish, done with sophistication because this IS Portland and this damn near cost $30.
Pork-Garlic Sausage shellfish, grilled scallions, garlic bread
I almost ordered this, but Verde got it instead. It seemed to be a good balance between porky sausage and briny shellfish. I think he pretty much cleaned the plate.
Whole Roasted Trout crazy water, sun dried tomatoes
All the ladies ordered the trout which is sorta the signature dish here. I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad trout. It’s a meaty fish that stands up to a good roast, and when done well comes out with a perfectly crispy salty skin. So that obviously, was the best part of the fish. The “crazy water” was broth with added herbs, I think parsley, which added nice brightness along with the sweet and tart sun dried tomatoes. My complaint was that the fish was a bit too salty, and all of us wished there was some sort of starch to accompany all that fish. I think this was probably the best entree of the evening though.
Grilled Baby Gems mint, sherry vinaigrette, parmensan
Holy crap! What a waste of $10!! There was absolutely nothing “grilled” about these guys. It tasted like poorly sauteed lettuce with lemon juice on it. Probably most disappointing/worst dish I’ve eaten at a restaurant in a long time.
We were in good spirits by the time dessert rolled around so we decided to order one of everything! There were 5 of us so that sorta justified it right??
Warm Shortcake summer berries
I’m a sucker for most things berry. This was probably the best dessert of the night and probably the best shortcake I’ve had. It had a bit of flakiness like a croissant with a bit of crumbliness like what you would expect from a regular shortcake. It was amazing. If I could find the recipe, this would definitely be my go to dessert.
Dark Chocolate Brownie roasted strawberry ice cream, balsamic honey
This was just a good brownie and nothing more special than that. I do appreciate chocolate paired with fruit, so the strawberry ice cream brought some bright tartness.
Almond Cake lavender caramel, creme fraiche ice cream
I’m usually not a fan of almond flavored things but this was a nice buttery sort of crumbly cake. The ice cream was light and creamy. I can’t say I remember the lavender taste in the caramel much.
Honey Panna Cotta charred stone fruit, hazelnut biscotti
The panna cotta was not too sweet which was nice. I can’t say all elements really melded together that well, but individually they were all solid.
Hibiscus Sorbet mexican wedding cake cookie
I was afraid the hibiscus would taste flowery but it tasted more like a fruit. The wedding cake cookie was soo whatevers, since I think my version of wedding cake cookies is far far superior. This was probably the least special of the desserts.
The desserts at Woodsman Tavern were pretty good. It was a great way to finish off a solid meal. I would recommend Woodsman Tavern for the raw bar and domestic ham which make the place unique from all the other Portland places. The cocktails here run heavy on the bourbon/whiskey stuff, as do most cocktail offerings in Portland. Unfortunately I had one of the worst wines in my entire life and it was the most expensive one by the glass which was odd. I think it was Lopez de Heredia Viña Gravonia. It was so bitter. Never order this please!