Posted by: acooksca | 04/09/2016

Portland’s Veritable Quandary

Veritable Quandry 2

Portland’s V.Q.Restaurant Patio

It is a pleasant spring evening and we sip a rye Manhattan while the sun sets behind Hawthorn Bridge into the broad Willamette River. We are on the patio of Portland’s Veritable Quandary, a favorite of ours for years, awaiting a table for our final meal here. After 45 years, this iconic downtown restaurant will close in July to make room for a new county courthouse.

The V.Q. (as it is affectionately called) is one of those places you feel familiar with from the moment you enter. We pass through a cozy bar filled with the lively banter of locals on our way to one of the intimate dining spaces. A quiet mummer comes from the tiny open kitchen we pass, a reassurance that meals are being carefully created. The competent, even service adds to our sense of belonging.

Veritable Quandry 1

An antique masthead welcomes you to the bar

The V. Q.’s style is to treat the best local provisions with solid techniques. This is not wacky Pacific Northwest cuisine (a tincture of coastal Douglass fir squirted on your potatoes, sea grape and fennel frond juice darkening your salmon) but richly flavored, well-conceived dishes. To start with, the bread is remarkable and we are told it is from Ken, a legendary artisanal baker. A warm spinach salad is smothered in earthy mushrooms. Wahoo is balanced with red curry sauce and Thai accents. There is a meaty sea trout filet with crunchy toasted almonds on creamy, buttery grits.

We speak with staff members who tell us the Chef is trying to open another restaurant and hopeful that many of the staff will make the move with her. We hope to make that move also.

Veritable Quandry 3

V.Q.’s Forest Mushroom and Warm Spinach Salad

Forest Mushroom and Warm Spinach Salad

Cut a variety of fancy mushrooms into large pieces. Heat a fry pan over medium and add 1 tablespoon each olive oil and butter. Add mushrooms in one layer and let cook several minutes, stirring only once, until lightly browned. Season well with salt and pepper. Remove to a small bowl and keep warm.

Replace pan to heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 ounces large diced pancetta and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Add 1 large minced shallot, sauté just until wilted, about two minutes. Remove pancetta to a small plate, leaving oil in the pan. Deglaze pan with 11/2 tablespoons white balsamic or other light vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Add to the pan two handfuls baby spinach, 2 oz. crumbled blue cheese and the pancetta, stirring just until coated, 20 seconds. Remove to serving plate. Top with the mushrooms.

Veritable Quandary

1220 SW 1st Ave, Portland, OR 97204       (503) 227-7342

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