Saturday, July 19, 2008

Fifty, Count 'Em, Fifty!

You know how you meet someone and hit it off, and it's always fun to see where the relationship goes from there? We met our friend Suzanne when she was the bartender at Castagna Café, one of our very favorite places in Portland to have an amazing meal without an amazing price tag. Then she decided to move on and we hoped she'd pop up again someplace, knowing she would be a success at whatever she put her mind to.

Well, it turns out she's one of the bartenders at 50 Plates, an ambitious new restaurant in the Pearl district that is part of the JoPa Hospitality Group under the owndership of Joe and Ginger Rapport. (Ginger's also the market manager of the Beaverton Farmers' Market.) And goodness knows what lies she must have told, but the dear girl managed to wangle an invitation for Dave and myself to their "media opening" last week.

The Steakhouse Trifecta.

I'd never been to such an event, hobbing and nobbing with the city's food media, drinking at the open bar and sampling from their fine wine list, all for free. It was quite a fantastic affair, with endless fresh oysters, almost irresistible little dirty rice beignets with bits of andouille, plus a scallop ceviche that totally killed.

Then the crowd sat down for a dinner featuring, among so many dishes it made my head spin, an heirloom tomato salad, a deconstructed clam chowder of roasted fish with clams and sauce on a bed of mashed potatoes, a braised lobster with clams and, as if that weren't enough, a combo they called the Steakhouse Trifecta that consisted of kobe steak, a potato-with-bacon fritter and a romaine wedge salad.

But wait, there was more. Desserts started pouring out of the kitchen and included one of the most fabulous slices of chocolate cake I've ever had, that was maybe even better than the Big 'Ol Chocolate Cake that was served at Shaker's Café, my brother's legendary place in the early days of the Pearl.

As you can imagine, everything was perfect for this crowd, so it'll deserve a trip back to check out the reality of daily service. But it looks like it could be a contender if their pricing is right and they keep up the outstanding quality on display for the media. It opens on July 28th, so stop in and say hello to Suzanne at the bar, and thank her for me!

Details: 50 Plates, 333 NW 13th Ave. Phone 503-228-5050.


Anonymous said...

Whoa, babe! Y'all scored.

Kathleen Bauer said...

No kidding! Though I do have conflicting feelings about attending these kinds of events. They're rigged to be impressive and aren't representative of what a restaurant would be like for a customer on a regular night. On the other hand, it gives an idea of what the space is like, what the food might be like, the overall "ambiance." I dunno. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

You could consider it a benchmark from which you could measure the experience on a regular night. The fanfare shows the potential and ya gotta admit it's fun to rub elbows with other foodies.

Kathleen Bauer said...

Actually, it's the food that makes it worthwhile. And the fact that it's free!