It has been a while since I have posted anything, but last week my wife and I had a meal that was just too good not to share. Over a year ago, we moved to Portland, OR from Beijing. This was for many reasons, but part of it was for the quality of the food scene in Portland. The meal we had last week was one of the best meals we have had in Portland which is really saying something. Every part of the evening was fantastic.
Roe is set behind Block and Tackle, their sister restaurant. You have to wait at a bar for your seating time and then are led behind a back curtain to the door to Roe. The element of mystery and surprise helped make it an even more unique experience.
After we sat down, we were handed the menu’s for the evening and were offered a quick explanation of the concept. There are four components to the meal, Raw, Shell, Line and Desert. You select one of each of the four components and are offered the choice of their wine pairing. With two people, we almost got to taste the whole menu as Raw and Desert are the only sections with three choices.
Our server was fantastic, explaining each course in details and adding to the fine dining experience.
Helen had a glass of off-dry German Reisling that was the standout wine of the evening. Rich with a bit of minerality, this complemented each of the courses pretty well. I, being the food and wine nerd that I am went for the full beverage pairing. A cocktail to start off that was spicy and fruity. I missed the name of it and what it contained and since they don’t list that on the menu this is the only whole of the evening in our descriptions.
We started off with a bowl of Dashi, Mushroom and Chive broth, perfectly warm and hearty to start off. This was accompanied by bread which was also excellent along with the whipped butter and three different flavored salts; smoked, citrus and bonito.
This was followed up by our first course, the raw selection. Our server recommended the Butterfish and the Mekajiki. The butterfish was served with truffle, ponzu and shies along with shaved frozen foie gras. Helen and I both thought that this may have been the second best dish of the meal. The Mekajiki was swordfish belly with green apple wasabi and trout roe. Also good, but no where near the standout of the Butterfish.
Next up was our favorite course, the shellfish. We had both the scallop and the king crab with the Crab getting both of our votes as the best of the entire meal. The scallop was served with Uni (Helen’s favorite) and a balsamic and chestnut sauce. The Crab was served with Apple in a brown butter and bacon-yuzu sauce. Simply sublime!
The line fish was Salmon that was first smoked and then poached in olive oil along with spherical potatoes, brussel sprout leaves and clam sauce while the other dish was antarctic tooth fish with a thai flavored broth, kaffir lime leaves, garlic and lobster sauce. Both were good, but not as remarkable as the other dishes we had.
Desert was the next selection with a cheese course that was accompanied by cherry sorbet on a bed of hazelnut crumble along with a chocolate orange dish that featured a Happy Birthday message.
The beverage pairings were left up to the staff. Each dish had a pairing, but since i was the only one partaking in the pairings he chose which one was most versatile for each course. Throughout the evening I had a small producer Chardonnay from Oregon (my favorite), a Kriek Lindeman’s beer that tasted like candy, a Gruner Vletliner from Austria that matched the richness of the butterfish perfectly, a Pinot Noir Blanc from Oregon (pinot noir that they extract
the juice without any time on the skins in fermentation) and one of my favorite drinks, a 12 year old Yamazaki whiskey to finish off the evening.
From beginning to end it was a great experience. The unique setting added to it the specialness of the evening, feeling like we were in on a secret. While not a cheap meal, if you ever find yourself in Portland looking for something different and exciting, head to Roe on Division…though make sure you have booked your table.