Friday, June 22, 2007

Eating Well and Doing Good

As I've said innumerable times before, any excuse to not have to make dinner is good by me. So when I got an e-mail from my social-activist friend Sue that Basic Rights Oregon was having a Bites for Rights event where participating restaurants would donate 15% of their proceeds to the organization, I knew I'd hit the jackpot for that evening. I fired off an e-mail to my family and suggested it was our duty to head out there and rack up some serious charges.

And since we hadn't been to Three Doors Down in ages and I'd been looking for a reason to go, I was more than happy to find them on the list. We called ahead and put our names on their waiting list (hint, hint) and, once there, sat down at the bar to start our tab off with a bang. Two perfectly-made cocktails later (a negroni and a dry martini), we were seated at our table and the serious check-bulking began.

We started with two of their fine selection of extremely reasonably-priced appetizers. First came boquerones, or small, fresh anchovies, that were served on top of a crostini with pickled onions. These were beautiful little bites of fresh fishiness and the mild onions gave it just the right tang. The plate was drizzled with an incredible reduced balsamic syrup, but since there was no way to get this on the crostini, we had to use our fingers to taste it. The second plate was beef carpaccio (right, below) topped with shaved parmesan cheese and savoy cabbage with a lemon dressing and capers. The beef was meltingly sweet and so thinly sliced it practically melted on the tongue, though we pushed the salad aside to eat separately.

And now I need to admit that, while so far everything had gone well and we were more than happy, at this point we had finished our appetizers and now had to sit for a full hour until our entrées arrived. Tables that were seated after us were served and were practically finished, we'd nursed a glass of wine from our excellent bottle so as not to waste it before our food came and, to make it complete, our server was avoiding eye contact with us. And when our food actually got to the table all we heard was a cursory, "Gee, sorry it took so long." Fine.

That said (whew!), our entrees were quite wonderful though, sadly, it was too dark to take pictures. My citrus-marinated chicken on a bed of chard and polenta was mouth-wateringly good. Dave's pork chop with grilled asparagus was medium rare as it should be and they'd been happy to substitute roasted potatoes for the mashed, since he's off dairy these days. Mr. B was practically orgasmic over his penne alla vodka with sausages, the soft, creamy tomato sauce in a happy menage a trois with the mild sausages and pasta.

And though it took longer and was a bit more frustrating than we'd planned, we left feeling well-fed and socially redeemed from our evening's repast. And that's pretty good for one dinner out.

Details: Three Doors Down Café, 1429 SE 36th Ave. Phone 503-236-6886.

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