Name: Paley’s Place
Location: 1204 NW 21st Avenue
Portland, OR 97209
Contact information: 503.243.2403
Web address: http://paleysplace.citysearch.com
Hours: Monday-Thursday 5:30-10 p.m., Friday-Saturday 5:30-11 p.m., Sunday 5 p.m-10 p.m.
Cost: Appetizers around $8, Entrees around $22, Desserts around $7
Reservation recommended: Most Definitely
Good for: Pacific Northwest French with a twist
Insider tip: Paley’s Place is very accommodating of food restrictions
Review: Crestfallen after my meal at Wildwood, I approached another Grand Dame of Portland dining with hesitancy. In business for more than 10 years inside an old Victorian home, Paley’s Place has also received an extensive number of accolades. Unlike Wildwood, however, Paley’s Place lives up to its reputation.
The meal started off with a palate cleanser – when I asked if it had meat, she swiftly removed it from the table and described the contents (bacon, cod and greens on top of bread). I agreed that yes, that was not something either of us could eat and she returned with spicy, diced up red peppers sitting inside of a heavy soup spoon – an excellent dish to wet the appetite.
Although meat dishes are the standouts of this French/Pacific Northwest restaurant, the waitress helpfully pointed out the vegetarian options, as well as entrees that could be modified to meet my diet.
For appetizers, I tried the hand-cut fries with whole grain mustard aioli ($4). They are served inside of a large pewter cup, topped with kosher salt, and would put McDonald’s to shame.
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The other appetizer – a small portion size of the risotto-style farro with mushrooms, leeks and roasted winter squash ($11), was by far the standout dish of the night. Although I’d never had farro, I’m a huge fan of risotto, which requires the same slow-cook process. The ingredients were outstanding, fresh and flavorful. I don’t have anything to compare it to, but I can say I’ll be ordering it again (and I’m one who usually wants to try new things).
My main course was cod over steamed vegetables. The pungent smell made me wary, but I should not have worried. The fish was as fresh as promised and perfectly flaky. The vegetables were not under or overcooked and paired nicely.
The small-sized potato gnocchi with truffled alfredo ($12) that my companion ordered was good, but honestly, I find gnocchi to be a very boring dish. I would strongly urge vegetarians to go with the farro.
Our dessert consisted of warm chocolate soufflÃ© cake with honey vanilla ice cream ($8.00) and a glass of late-harvest riesling. The cake was appropriately gooy and well worth the 15-minute wait, which our served warned us about in advance.
The only detractor from the meal was that after we received our dessert, our waitressed was pulled into the kitchen to help close up. The server that took over wasn’t as attentive and we ended up waiting a little too long for the check.