If you've been reading the last few blog posts, you know that I was in Portland in July for a quick visit after a many year absence. A few weeks before I left my childhood friend Miriam and her husband Nick were visiting Israel, and they gave me great restaurant recommendations for my upcoming Portland visit. They highly recommended Kenny and Zuke's, a deli, and Le Pigeon, one of the most acclaimed new restaurants in the city. These restaurants are just some of the many fantastic dining establishments Portland has to offer. Portland is kind of trendy these days as a food (and everything else) destination, but the truth is the city has always had great food. It just took the rest of the country a long time to take notice. I think native Portlanders prefer it that way.
While Portland's food scene has always been great overall, it never had a great deli, aI'm kind of pissed off something like Kenny and Zuke's (KZs) did not exist in Portland when I was growing up there. In any case Portland now has its great deli. KZs makes their own pastrami (ridiculously good), breads (also ridiculously good), pickles (also also ridiculously good) and has created a deli as good as anywhere I've eaten. Granted I have not eaten at all of the best NY and Montreal delis, but I imagine KZs can hold its own against any of them. I had the P.L.T. (Pastrami, Lettuce, Tomato) on Rye, and it was ridiculously good (not sure changing the adverb and adjective just for variety would express myself any better). Oh, I had a cream soda too, which might have been my first one in some 6-7+ years.
Finally, Le Pigeon. It was the most interesting dining experience I have had in years. Gabriel Rucker, Le Pigeon's chef, just won the James Beard Award as the top rising chef in the U.S., and you can see why. I'm only going to discuss the appetizer I had, but please be assured that every other dish myself, my parents and my brother had were just as amazing and creative too. I am not also not a talented enough writer to fully convey the dishes and how good they tasted. This was some damn good food!
I ordered the pigeon crudo appetizer, which presents pigeon served two ways. One is the leg fried (toes and all), and while some people may not like seeing the entire leg, it is soooo good. The more creative of the preparations was the second, which consisted of essentially pigeon carpaccio. The pigeon was cooked sous vide ever so slightly so that it is not 100% raw, but very, very rare. The pigeon had a very unique, complex flavor with touches of citrus. This is probably the most creative dish I have ever had. The other thing I want to mention is the pure genius that goes into their preparation of vegetables. They vacuum pack their vegetables in wine for a day before they cook them, and it blew my mind. I've never had better tasting veggies and the attention to detail really shows through. You can view pictures of their dishes at the following fan blog.