Thursday, September 30, 2010


This is my last Portland post, which makes me a bit sad, but so it goes. Well, it’s my last Portland, Oregon, post…from this trip anyways. And since I’m writing this while sitting in a lovely house in Portland, Maine (another foodie city), there will many more tasty posts to follow...

But back to Oregon. Before taking a red eye home to New York State, I spent my last evening in Portland at the fantastic MetroVino in the Pearl District.

MetroVino was suggested to me back in July when I mentioned to a couple in Albany that I was going to Portland and that I wanted to go out for at least one fancy and decadent dinner during my trip. They immediately began gushing about MetroVino, and it turned out that the executive chef happened to be one of their cousins. Score. I scoped out the menu online and knew that I had to make it happen. Everything sounded so delicious, and the extensive wine list tempted me all the way from across the country.

On a Saturday night we stepped into MetroVino in style. The restaurant was sleek, elegant, and inviting. We were seated at a spacious table and within a few minutes our server brought us a special little amuse-bouche sent out by Chef Gregory Denton. There was apricot, avocado, and even a little piece of popcorn. I loved the mix of salty, savory, and sweet, and the playfulness of the presentation was delightful. Shortly after that Chef Greg came by to say hello. There’s nothing like meeting a chef to make a foodie happy.

As I looked over the wine and bar menu I wanted to try everything. Wouldn’t you want to taste a Pink Lady (Plymouth Gin, applejack, lemon, egg white, and grenadine, served straight up), a Dark and Stormy (Gosling Dark Rum, Cock & Bull ginger beer, served on the rocks), or a Cucumber Caipirosca (Stoli Citron, lemon, and cucumber, served on the rocks)? All the cocktails sounded fantastic, but we went for the wine.

MetroVino has an exceptional wine selection, which was actually quite daunting. How does one choose when everything sounds so amazing? Thank goodness for text messaging—we soon had Cam’s suggestion for an exquisite Bordeaux.

And by exquisite I mean expensive.

The wine was a 1988 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, St. Julien Second Growth Bordeaux from France. It was $14 for a tasting glass. Yes, that’s right—$14 for 1.75 ounces of wine. It was totally worth it. A whole bottle was $210. Maybe someday I’ll be baller enough to afford a $210 bottle of wine, but I’m not there yet.

It tasted amazing when it arrived at the table, but our server encouraged us to let it open up. So we sipped on the tasting glass throughout the meal. Every sip yielded a different taste. The flavors really did evolve and deepen over the meal. There aren’t enough adjectives to describe such a lovely wine, but some that kind to mind are “deep-colored, powerful, ripe, exquisitely well-balanced and perfectly harmonious.” Okay, I just lifted that off the winery's Web site, but the description really is spot on.

But 1.75 ounces of wine is not enough for two people, and even though that Dark and Stormy was tempting me on the cocktail menu, wine just seemed more appropriate. We selected a bottle of 2007 Charles Joguet Chinon Cuvee Terroir from Loire Valley, France. Although it was perhaps not on the same level as the Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, it was still a superb Bordeaux. This delightful red wine paired perfectly with our delicious dinner.

Even though we’d gotten oysters the day before I couldn’t resist getting more succulent, buttery West Coast oysters. We hadn’t discussed getting an appetizer but when the server asked if we wanted one, I just said yeah, let’s do this. Oysters for both of us. They came out in little serving spoons, already removed from the shell. Each oyster was prepared with a different sauce. One had cucumber mignonette, another came with ponzu wasabi, and last was with horseradish cocktail sauce. Each had that lovely ocean taste, and the different preparations brought out different layers of flavor of the oyster. They were all excellent.

I ordered a special, and I’m not quite sure if this covers all the components, but there was lamb, sage gnocci, zucchini, and pine nuts. The lamb just melted in my mouth. I simply love the taste of baby animals. Can you say decadent? Yes, please.

At one point I took a bite of crispy sage and literally stopped paying attention to the world around me as I sat back and appreciated the culinary experience going on in my mouth.

Adam ordered the grilled maple-brined pork chop with crispy roasted chile polenta, hazelnut chimichurri, tomatoes, and padron peppers. Again, the dish was amazing. I’m not usually a big fan of polenta, but this preparation was perfect. I mean, just look at that picture. How could there be anything wrong with this dish? All the flavors complemented each other like magic. Wonderful.

MetroVino has the kind of food where every little taste makes you smile…and stop mid-sentence just to appreciate the delicate layering of flavors in each mouthful. Each bite of dinner was exceptional. The wine was exquisite. It was the perfect way to end my trip to Portland.

And so, with a satiated stomach, a refreshed soul, and a half a bottle of red wine flowing through me, I boarded my plane, looked out at the night sky, and bid the West Coast adieu…but it won't be long before I return.

Metrovino on Urbanspoon

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