Monday, June 24, 2013

Dining Month Portland: Six Days and Counting…

We're nearing the end of Dining Month, those thirty or so days in early summer where Portlanders have an excuse to check out a new spot or haunt an old favorite with abandon, and where restaurants can fill up otherwise empty seats during a slow season. It's also where not feeling like cooking is an acceptable reason to go out rather than trying to sell the old "breakfast for dinner" approach.

Why? Because more than 80 of the city's best…and I'm not exaggerating…restos are offering three courses of dining deliciousness for just $29. Now of course this doesn't include your beverages or a gratuity, but considering some of these places charge $29 for the entrée alone makes it quite the deal.

So when I was offered a chance to check out one of the listed restaurants, Clyde Common, one night last week, I said, "Heck, yeah!" After all, I'd been there a couple of times since they'd opened and loved it. And I was curious to see what was proffered for the three courses…after all, they weren't going to be handing out filet mignon for that price.

What they did have on offer was: a starter of a spring green soup with crème fraîche and olive oil (see recipe, below), a big helping of braised pork shoulder with farro, mushrooms and pearl onions as the entrée (right) and, to cap it all off, an insanely luscious layered little glass (just the right amount, imho) of chocolate pot de creme, panna cotta and fresh strawberry preserves with a cashew cookie (below left).

As you can tell from the menu (above left), though, it specifically says "no substitutions," a common restriction for these menus. This meant that Dave, with his lactose intolerance, could have none of them and had to order off the regular, and thus much more expensive, menu. So if you're planning on taking advantage of this monthlong dining bonanza, and it is indeed a rare chance to sample the best of PDX for a song, I would strongly encourage you to check out your menu choices and any restrictions before arriving at the door.

Our evening? It was lovely, of course, from the drinks in the bar—my Americano served in a little soda bottle and Dave's stunning barrel-aged Negroni—to his choice of the pasta with lamb ragu. A fun chance to head downtown and hobknob with the denizens while not spending an arm and a leg to do it.

Spring green soup with herb crème fraîche

From Clyde Common

2 yellow onions, sliced

5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 green bell peppers, seeds removed and thinly sliced

2 green zucchini, washed with ends removed and thinly sliced
1 green tomato (when in season), cored and chopped

1 serrano pepper

1 bunch of scallions, chopped

1 head fennel, thinly sliced

3 Tbsp. salt

1 Tbsp. sugar

1/2 c. Champagne vinegar

1/2 c. olive oil

1/2 c. blanched peas

1/2 c. blanched asparagus tips

1/2 c. blanched broccoli florets
1 bunch of parsley, picked and coarsely chopped

1 c. crème fraîche

1 Tbsp. minced chives

1 Tbsp. minced chervil

Salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste

A day ahead, combine the onion, garlic, pepper, squash, scallions and fennel in a non-reactive container. Add the salt, sugar, olive oil and vinegar. Mix well, cover and allow to sit overnight.

The next day, add in the cooked peas, asparagus, broccoli and chopped parsley. Mix well, and purée the vegetables in small batches in a blender until smooth. (The vegetables should have released quite a bit of liquid overnight. Add that liquid to the blender if the vegetables have trouble pureeing. If more liquid is needed, use vegetable stock or water.) After all the vegetables are pureed, re-season the mixture with salt, pepper, lemon juice and a 1/2 cup of the crème fraîche. Place in the refrigerator to chill.

 In a mixing bowl, take the remaining crème fraîche and combine with the minced chive and chervil. Set aside.

Divide the soup into four chilled bowls and serve with a heaping spoonful of the herb crème fraîche.

Photo at top courtesy Clyde Common.

Read my posts about previous visits to Clyde Common: Common Vocabulary, Our Night on the Town and Quick Hits: Clyde Common, Theory, Relish.


Anonymous said...

My friend and I have been thoroughly enjoying Dining Month Portland. What a great way to try many restaurants we haven't dined at yet. We're still swooning over Departures' spicy shrimp appetizer and reminiscing fondly about our dinner at St. Jack. Last night's dinner at Bluehour was just perfect, and we're looking forward to another restaurant tomorrow.

Thanks for the review of Clyde Common. I've wanted to go there forever, but my friend cannot have olive oil, so their set menu wasn't going to work for us either. Another time!

Kathleen Bauer said...

As you said, Anon, Dining Month is a great opportunity for the rest of us to try out some of PDX's best for very little scratch. Glad you enjoyed yourselves!