Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Lunch at the Bistro

What to do on a cloudy, showery, sleepy spring day in Portland and you find yourself wandering around the Pearl with a growling stomach and you're not in the mood for the corporate schlock (not to mention prices) at PF Chang's or Manzana? I was there with my friend Kim at noon today and I spotted the Everett Street Bistro just a block away, so we walked right in and got a table.

I'd heard great things about this little boite from reliable sources, but had stayed away thinking it was too popular, too crowded and maybe just too too. So either my restaurant karma was working overtime, or the crowd's calmed down to manageable proportions. Once inside, you're confronted with a lovely little dessert case that feels cheery and delightful (not to mention tempting), and when you sit down at one of the zinc tables with their French rattan cafe chairs (very comfortable) you're immediately struck by the light pouring in the large street-side windows even on a cloudy day.

Kim decided on the Macaroni Gratin, which is Cavatappi pasta in a three-cheese blend with roasted wild mushrooms and pancetta. We're talking the ultimate in comfort here, with the creamy cheese sauce enfolding the curly noodles, set off by the crunch of bread crumbs and the salty smokiness of pancetta chunks and mushrooms.

I decided to go with a more traditional lunch item that might show what their house specials are all about. Plus I can never refuse poached eggs, so the Everett BLT sounded like just the ticket: toasted pain levain, lemon aioli, bacon, tomatoes, poached eggs and shaved parmesan, drizzled with the house viniagrette and served with mixed greens. It was hearty and satisfying, though the bread could have been toasted and the poached eggs were on the hard side. The greens were plentiful and the tomatoes on the sandwich were actually flavorful, and I have to say their bacon was some I'd like on my plate anytime.

The prices are definitely affordable, and it seems like it would be a nice romantic spot for dinner with casual seating at the long bar and a nice intimate banquette along the back wall. This place is one I'd come back to anytime, especially now that the Little Wing Cafe is no longer with us, and it's a much nicer-feeling place than its large corporate brethren down the block.

Details: Everett Street Bistro, 1140 NW Everett St. Phone 503-467-4990.

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