Monday, March 03, 2008

Common Vocabulary

OK, I admit it. I'm impressed.

When you read that Eric Asimov came to town and found a restaurant worthy of mention in the NYT, it's like, "Yeah, that's nice." But when you start hearing from people whose opinions you know and respect say that it rocks, that's when you prick up your ears.

On Saturday night, my brother invited us to join him for the Vino staff party at Clyde Common. I'd had drinks there shortly after it had opened and thought it was fine, but with its shared tables and groovy, low-key vibe I thought, "Pass." That's when word started filtering in that it was worth checking out.

The Haut Medoc.

And with six of us at dinner that night, we were able to work through most of the menu, starting with appetizers like terrific crunchy whole fried anchovies with aioli, pork belly with oysters, and a "scallop board" of raw bay scallops with jalapeno jelly and a shot of cava. We also had the chicken wings and spiced chickpeas, but they weren't nearly as impressive.

Fried whole fish.

Things got really good when we got to the entrées, in no small part because my brother had pulled a magnum of 1995 Chateau Hanteillan Haut Medoc out of his cellar to share. (Have I mentioned lately that I'm a lucky, lucky person?) Plus a bottle of a 1995 Caprili Brunello di Montalcino that we'd brought in case we needed back-up. And then the food started coming, including a fried whole fish with salt-roasted potatoes, hanger steak with a poached egg and potato cakes, tagliarini pasta with a sauce of stinging nettles and walnuts, and grilled rabbit with wild mushrooms in a sherry sauce. Crazy!

Grilled rabbit.

You might have though we'd have had the sense to stop there, but with three bloggers at the table there was a reportorial imperative to satisfy, so we also had four out of five desserts on the menu, of which the carrot cake with goat cheese cream and the grapefruit sorbet with green apple-fennel granita almost put us over the top.

Then just as we were gathering what was left of our dignity, what should appear but an angel-winged, parasol-wielding flock of white-clad figures. At first we thought perhaps we were suffering a food-induced hallucination. But they turned out to be performers from Cirque du Soleil dancing through the place, providing an appropriately theatrical end to the evening.

Details: Clyde Common, 1014 SW Stark St. Phone 503-228-3333.

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