Raven & Rose is an interesting place. I was steered there by the desk clerk at my hotel at the end of a long, long, long day. Dead tired, dead cellphone, dead everything, and he told me, from behind his ironic beard, that it was a five-minute walk to a nice place. It was.
Portland is kind of Seattle’s friendly little brother. Nowhere near as gritty and intense as Seattle – peaceful, green, kind of Minneapolis-y. It’s a very human-scaled city with a lot of students, a lot of calm, interesting people, and apparently a thriving restaurant scene. The city is on the Willamette River, where it joins up with the Columbia, one of the western United States’ immense, legendary rivers – Lewis and Clark traveled down it for the last segment of their historic journey. Accordingly, Portland does seafood very nicely, as does the Raven & Rose.
Address: 1331 SW Broadway, Portland, Oregon 97201
Lunch – Monday through Friday, 11:00 – 14:00; Dinner – Monday through Saturday, 17:00 – 22:00; Sunday, 16:00 – 21:00
Kind of spiffed-up Irish pub. The Raven & Rose is in an enormous Victorian house on an equally enormous corner lot. Tile floors, high ceilings, nicely spaced tables. The open kitchen occupies a corner of the big room, and the bar (thankfully without a television) another. Out of respect to the rainy, cold Portland winters, the entrance is curtained off, which cuts down on the drafts, and gives the big dining room a surprisingly intimate feeling.
Friendly, professional, fast. The place was almost empty the night I stopped by, which might have helped, but the server I had was on it. And he knew his stuff.
Not cheap. $67 for one person, including drinks, coffee and dessert.
The starter was a fish appetizer described on the menu as “Salmon Two Ways”. This turned out to be a selection of hand-baked crackers, delivered with two different kinds of salmon. One was a really nice, straightforward salmon gravlax. The other was a kind of salmon salad – pieces of salmon with spices, formed into a mold. The effect was really nice. The crackers were enormous, salty and absolutely fresh, which set off the salmon very nicely. The whole affair went especially well with an India Pale Ale beer, which this place has about ten different kinds of. Great start.
My entrée was a braised lamb shank, served with a warm orzo salad, feta cheese, rapini, mint and warm olive cream. This was an interesting offering. The Raven & Rose is an Irish-themed place, sort of, with a lot of hearty, savory stuff on the menu – cheeses, rabbit, rarebit, stuff from a wood-fired over. This dish was in keeping with that, but was provided with a kind of Mediterranean twist – olives, feta, mint. And it worked. Best of all, the lamb shank was light. Lamb shank, also known in Italian cooking as ossobucco – can end up being a super-rich, slightly greasy mess of overdone sloppiness. Especially lamb.This was different – to make it work with the Middle Eastern ingredients, the braising was very carefully done, and this lamb was really clean, and light-tasting. Very good, and very creative.
The meal was finished off with butterscotch pudding. I have loved this dish since I was a little boy, and this was no exception. Creamy, rich and smooth, and really nicely done. A cup of coffee, and off into the night for my next adventure. Raven & Rose is the perfect place to hole up in Portland on a dark & stormy night.Published On: Thursday, July 3rd, 2014