By: Valerie Brockbank I am a member of a dining club organized by a group of women friends. It is our goal to try all the best restaurants in Portland on a monthly basis. The food we are encountering is so good that we have been upping that to once every two weeks, with some repeats in-between.
Good or even great, doesn’t have to make us poor, in fact the invention of happy hour gourmet fare has made this endeavor down-right affordable.
One of the best happy hours we have come across is the Uptown Billiard’s 5-course tasting menu that features a different vegetable every two weeks. Yes, this is an upscale old-world billiard hall with beautiful tables and velvet curtains, but as the owner, Kent, says, “We’re not all fun and games!
The food, in the small library inspired dining room, is amazingly inventive and fresh. Their chef, Mark Potovsky, was named the best seafood chef in Canada, and has worked at one of my favorite places to visit and to dine, The Sooke Harbour House Bed and Breakfast and dining room, perched above the Pacific Ocean in Victoria, British Columbia.
Last week’s Happy Hour Menu featured asparagus from Martinez Farms in Canby, Ore. The menu can be sampled alone or with wine pairings; $10 for the dishes or $20 with the wine pairings. If you have a hefty appetite these dishes may be an appetizer, but for me they were satisfyingly filling.
We started with a leek, asparagus and watercress soup garnished with Rogue Creamery blue cheese and almonds; that was paired with a 3 Stones New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. This was my favorite wine of the evening; crisp, and fruity with a vanilla nose and long finish, and it was a great match for the richness of the soup.
Course two was grilled asparagus with micro greens, shaved Regianno cheese and orange oil served with a Garofolio Verdicchio from Marche, Italy. This wine, although a little one dimensional, had a bit of smokiness to match the asparagus and a fruitiness to march the orange oil. Dish three was my favorite; a large seared scallop with pickled asparagus, on a bed of roasted carrot puree and tarragon pesto cream – I loved the roasted carrot puree. This dish paired beautifully with the mineral qualities of a Chateau Gaudrelle Vouvray from the Loire Valley.
The meat course featured perfectly crusted rare lamb slices on top of an unusual mushroom asparagus bread pudding, with apple-mint chutney and rosemary jus; it was served with local Yamhill County Marina Piper Pinot Noir. The tannin was just right for the lamb and the bell pepper finish complimented the bread pudding. We were all wondering how the chef was going to work asparagus into a dessert, but he did! The lemon asparagus pound cakewith Chantilly cream was earthy and delicious; the sweetness came from pairing it with a GD Vajra Moscasto d’Asti from Peidmonte, Italy.
Five dishes, a plethora of ingredients and many new cooking ideas later, we were making plans to come back every two weeks, as they change their featured ingredient. In fact, we’ve already made reservations for their Sorrel inspired menu next week. Now I can take this lovely herb way beyond soup!
3 Stones New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc 95
Garofolio Verdicchio from Marche, Italy 80
Chateau Gaudrelle Vouvray from the Loire Valley 90
Yamhill County Marina Piper Pinot Noir 85
GD Vajra Moscasto d’Asti from Peidmonte, Italy 92
otv rating (0 to 20)
$$ for happy hour, $$$$ for three course dinner
Billiards $10/hr week nights, $12/hr on weekends.
120 NW 23rd, Portland OR - (503) 226-6909