Wow, looks like this is my first post from our new home city, Portland. So far, we love it up here! The rain has been minimal, we’ve been doing our best to explore places outside the city center, and there are more restaurants than we know what to do with. It’s safe to say I’m spending more time on Yelp and Twitter than I should be figuring out the next best happy hour and where to make a reservation for dinner, but it’s necessary when you’ve made a mental goal to visit every restaurant in PDX. I’m systematically bookmarking places we’ve been to on Yelp so I can keep track. Don’t tell Brady that one.
|The amazing “Pettole”-Fried Stuffed Bread of Puglia|
On Monday night, we attended a benefit dinner for Aviary Restaurant. Sadly, the restaurant caught fire on the 4th of July (yay fireworks), and was ruined with both fire and water damage. Firehouse Restaurant in the NE was gracious enough to host a benefit dinner for them, which we thought was a really great show of solidarity. So, I called them up and we were on our way towards philanthropic gorging. Truth be told, we also liked that the donation included paired wines.
I picked up Brady after work and we ventured into the NE, a place we hadn’t been yet. It was mostly residential with cute little bungalows that lined the street, so there was a tinge of “are we lost?” in the air of the Mini Cooper. But a large brick building emerged behind some houses and I knew we had found it. Firehouse Restaurant is set in, what else? A 1916 firehouse. There were some amazing old black and white photos of fireman, engines and what not against the brick walls, and the kitchen was completely open. A rotisserie rotated around a gaggle of chickens and a brick oven presumably cooked the pizza we would later eat. The restaurant was set-up with communal wooden tables, which meant we would be chatting with our neighbors while eating. For a new couple in Portland, this was hardly a bad thing.
The wine showed up like clockwork when each of the four courses were put out. The menu:
- Tuna Conserva, Pickled Summer Squash & Butterball Potato Salad
- “Pettole”-Fried Stuffed Bread of Puglia
- Tomato and Basil Braised Romano Beans
- Farm Lettuces with Radish and Red Wine Vinaigrette
- “Pizza Celio” Anchovy Cream, Grilled Radocchio & Grana Padano
- Rotisserie Chicken with Tomato and Bread Salad
- Grilled Pork Spareribs and Jowls with Roasted Green Beans and Cherries
- Sirloin Tagliata with Argula, Lemon & Parmesan
- Oyster Mushroom Risotto
- Beer Ice Cream, Mocha Sauce & Pretzel Nougatine
|Beer Ice Cream|
Lord have mercy. It was one of those meals where food just kept on coming. Thankfully, it was served family style and they didn’t overestimate how much food to make; there was just enough for the table, which meant we were able to sample everything but not leave feeling like bloated pigs. My favorites from the menu: the “Pettole”-fried stuffed bread of Puglia (seriously, it was the stuff that dreams are made of), the rotisserie chicken and the beer ice cream. I’m vowing to figure out how to make that pretzel nougatine! It reminded me of peanut brittle, only nix the peanuts and insert pieces of pretzel. Heavenly!
I hope Aviary made a killing that night and is able to re-open very soon. There were numerous people at our table who were big fans of the restaurant and bummed about its current state of affairs. We’d never been to Aviary before, so were we impostors? Nah. We just felt like doing a little something good…and we wanted the food too…and the wine. I’d definitely venture back to Firehouse to try out their food as well. The menu was succinct, thoughtful, and Italian. What’s wrong with that?! On a cold, rainy night, I can imagine the vibe behind the roll-up firehouse door: cozy and quaint with food that would knock a fireman out in his Lazyboy recliner.