After Thanksgiving, we thought we’d head up to Portland to take a break from Eugene, conveniently avoiding the bomb scare in Pioneer Square by leaving on Saturday. And it’s a good thing, too, since we were rather more in the mood for some fine dinin’ at that point, not splinters of a 200-foot Christmas tree in our hair. Of the many delights we tried, I’m most happy to note that yes, Virginia, Central European food is hot. I knew the charcuterie and fermentation craze would bode well for my people.
Exhibit A: Grüner restaurant. I succumbed to the siren call of an almost Hungarian pörkölt (called goulash on the menu, it has a slightly more complex flavor profile than my favorite stew, with more herbs, tomato, and a hint of caraway), even though I begged my friends to tie me to one of the beech limbs that decorate the restaurant and stuff my ears with liptauer cheese.
We also had a radish and pumpkin seed salad, whose presentation is 75% of the dish. Shaved, sweet radishes are really quite delicious, especially with bursts of flavor from the pumpkin seeds and chives. The salad was dressed with pumpkin seed oil and apple cider vinegar with a little beard of microgreens atop a (tastless, but oh well) slice of black radish.
Two kinds of trout, one smoked and one roasted with a leek and fennel stuffing, and a choucroute with fat, huge sausages were also good ideas. Not such a good idea: paprika rim on a Eastern European fusion drink with Zwack and whoknowswhat. Gimmicky. But I’m sad I didn’t try the wheat schnapps. Wheat schnapps? Yes, wheat schnapps.
I’ll be back.