Monday, February 1, 2010

So I'm sitting at the bar, and this pig walks by...

No, literally. A pig walks by.

I'm sitting at the bar in Clyde Common (, in the hip Ace Hotel in downtown Portland. It's a Euro-style bar/restaurant that happens to have not only a great bar scene but good food as well.

Jonny, the 'tender of the hour, gleefully responds to a "oh, whip me up something with....tequila!" and shortly presents a deliciously bitter-but-not-too-bitter aperitif cocktail that fits the moment. It's a blend of Herradura Blanco Tequila, Cynar (Italian Artichoke bitter aperitif), and Regan's Orange Bitters. It's amazing because the drink is wonderfully bitter in an aperitif way, but the Herradura spice and florals come through nicely, and artichoke veggies match beautifully with the agave, and the orange fruit of the Regan's rounds everything out. Great drinks don't have to be---and sometimes shouldn't be---extremely complicated or fussy.

Then, in a thoughtful touch, as a nosh, Jonny delivers up a small side of farro salad, with a little radicchio rosso and just a couple of slivers of fresh pink grapefruit...and the food is exactly balanced with the drink!

So where's the pig I mentioned at the start of all this, you ask? Patience, patience; I'm almost there.

Appetites properly stimulated, we order up some food off the perpetually fresh and always changing lunch menu, and soon I'm sitting there with this aromatic and gorgeous grilled baguette stuffed with chunks of tender pork, lavished with spicy grilled broccoli rabe, and topped with gooey provolone cheese. Oh, and there's a side cup of one of the best spicy lentil soups I've had lately, just as counterpoint.

As I dive into this sangwidge, the pig walks by. Weird, huh?

No, I wasn't hallucinating, and it wasn't a trashy woman. It really was a pig walking by.

Not by his own volition, mind you. One of the chefs was hefting an entire pig carcass into the open kitchen area. The staff there is pretty persnickety about their food, and they like to prepare everything from scratch, so they don't buy cuts---they get the whole hog! Then they work away at it, using the various parts as needed, not wasting anything, until said porker is gone.

I looked at the pig. I looked at my pork sandwich. I said a sotto voce obeisance to the gods in gratitude for what I was about to receive. Then, carnivore that I am, I dived right back into that sandwich.

And it was good.

For dessert one of my lunch companions succumbed to the Parfait, an old style soda bar glass filled with house-made Fernet Menta ice cream, silky-rich chocolate pudding, meringue, some crumbles, and cream. I didn't get to taste it, but said companion pronounced it delicious as he was vigorously scraping the remnants of the concoction out of the glass to get the last bit of flavor.

In a moment of weakness (I have those a lot), I opted for a combo---a shot of espresso, and a request for Jonny's Manhattan, which he makes with Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Carpano Formula Antico, and a touch of Luxardo. And a maraska cherry as garnish.

Damn, it's good.


  1. I hope they had a wheelbarrow to tote you out in!

  2. I'm officially in training; getting ready for Cassoulet Night.