Our second visit, and long overdue, since we loved it so much the first time. But life sometimes gets in the way of your life.
Radar is just as lovely the second time around, from our smiling hostess to the busy guys behind the kitchen bar to the mixed crowd that quickly fills up all the seats and tables. The menu is still a tribute to organization and focus and discipline: a tightly humming resume of carefully selected foods, cocktails, beers, wines, and other bevande of breathtaking simplicity that could work only if the people composing the list were really, really good.
|Anchor Light Cocktail|
There is not a single false note on this bill of fare. The food has a modern Euro-bistro character firmly planted in Americana, the wines are limited but impeccably selected, and the cocktails are few, precise, flavorful, and executed perfectly. When you can find any number of harmonious choices of wine from such a tiny list that se
em to fit neatly beside the food dishes without any fuss or circumstance---and they are all at modest prices!---you know you have come upon a winner.
The cocktail of the evening was an Anchor Light. And, no, it had nothing to do with Anchor Steam beer; it was a delicious and irresistible sour with Clear Creek Apple Brandy (yay, Oregon distillers), Kübler Absinthe (my vote for best cocktail absinthe there is, and apparently Radar feels the same way), lemon, and mint in abundance---as in both muddled into the drink and adorned with Bring-Us-A-Shrubbery abandon as a garnish. The only negative was that, being so tasty, it disappeared rapidly.
After a nibble of the spice-dusted puffed chickpeas and a couple of briny-fresh Washington oysters in an herbal granite, we proceeded to the feature courses, aided and abetted by a St. Innocent Chardonnay (yay, Oregon, again) and a dominatrix of Marghe Langhe Nebbiolo that was lovingly severe and wickedly good food wine.
|Sweet Potato Gnocchi|
The piping hot battered and tempura-ed cauliflower with Moroccan sauce dip was again excellent and damn near habituation, as was the once again Bluefish Paté with delectable garnishes of pickled rhubarb, beets, and onions on crusty bread.
The Sweet Potato Gnocchi with collard greens, peaches and candied pecans was a clarion call to my culinary heritage of the Deep South (only we called them ‘dumplings’; who knew from ‘gnocchi’, which sounded to our redneck ears like a strain of bacteria). Whatever you call them, delicious little pillow-puffs, and especially so with the tang of sweet potatoes.
A plate of Watermelon and Heirloom Tomatoes with crumbled cotija cheese was that last sweet, warm breath of Summer about to fall into Fall, and utterly appropriate for the skirling windy-warm seasonal transition day we were experiencing. This is a brilliant dish, in all ways. Flavor contrasts are startling, texture contrasts even more so. You might be wary of the tiny Fresno Chile slices unless you like the sudden burst of capsaicin heat, but it certainly makes for a piquant accent on the sweet, juicy, savory combination. (Sorry, no pic, so you'll have to use your vivid imagination; just make sure to salivate copiously.)
|The Last Word|
Then there was the Panzanella, a special of the evening, and possibly the best panzanella “salad” I’ve ever had. If Panzanella is a salad, Yankee Pot Roast must be an amuse bouche, and this one was abbondanza at its best: perfectly rare grilled beef, meaty, chewy greens, tangy sweet sour saucing, and all of it dripping and trickling down onto thick chewy slabs of crusty bread, making it dense and concentrated like meat candy.
No dessert because we were already overstuffed---well, actually, I had had a dessert of sorts by indulging in a Last Word cocktail (and thank you, Murray Stenson, for your community service) with Plymouth Gin giving it a slightly malty touch, enhanced by the obligatory Chartreuse and again with the Kübler Absinthe (funny, I don’t even drink absinthe, but it makes for an ideal cocktail ingredient).
Radar, on Mississippi. Go.