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Portland Dining Month at Ruth's Chris Steak House

My husband is not a foodie. To make it worse, he has oddball food allergies to onions and black pepper that make dining out a minefield. In order to dine together, we have to choose wisely. Not for him is the wonderful, creative works of the star chefs of Portland. We had a gift certificate to dine at Ruth’s Chris Steak House for his birthday, so I went to enjoy the Portland Dining Month $29 deal.

We last ate at a Ruth’s Chris years ago in Las Vegas, so we knew the drill. The dining room was packed at 6 pm on Sunday night. They offer fine dining features such as a doormen to open the door and a coat check. The lighting is very dim and the wine menu requires weight lifting. I was pleased to see that the Portland Dining Month option was well-featured on the last page of the menu. Smartly, they showed suggested wine pairings and upgrades.

We got bread and butter and water as soon as we sat down. I mused that bread seems rare at the foodie restaurants I have been frequenting lately. A casualty of the gluten-free epidemic? I enjoyed having it. Our water server and waiter both introduced themselves and each other and knew our last name. My husband thought that was a nice touch. Throughout, the service was very good, although they seem to be guarding against lawsuits for the hot plates as we were reminded of this three times.

I chose the petite filet mignon (which would have been my choice without the dining month deal anyway) and I decided to add the bleu cheese crust. The standard salad was part of the deal, plus one side (I chose the creamed spinach) and bread pudding for dessert. My husband had the larger filet mignon and mashed potatoes.

We both had a glass of the local Hawk’s View Cellars pinot noir 2010, as I had just listened to the Right at the Fork podcast with the owner. The wine was deliciously full-bodied and fruit-forward. We look forward to visiting their new tasting room and trying more of their wine.

The salad featured arugula and was nice, but overdressed and/or sat for a little too long before serving as it was limp.

Our steaks were perfectly prepared and, as we like with a filet mignon, there was not even a touch of gristle.

The dessert – bread pudding with coconut and pineapple served with chocolate/macadamia nut brittle, was a nice ending.

The tab far exceeded our gift certificate, as the wine was $17 per generous pour and my husband didn’t take the Dining Month deal. If you are out for a real deal, don’t upgrade anything and only choose the set meal!

Best Foodie Spots in Portlandia?

Gabriel Rucker at Le PigeonUSA Today writer Julian Smith rates his favorite foodie spots in Portland, Oregon. As a homegrown Portland foodie, here’s my take on his list.

1. Ataula – you betcha, I love Jose Chesa and everything at Ataula, including the cocktails and wine.

2. Ava Genes – I haven’t had a regular dinner yet at Ava Genes, but the Chef’s Week dinner was super. It’s hard to get a reservation, but we’ll have to plan an outing there.

3. Castagna – One of the best meals ever in Portland, they do molecular gastronomy right, even through changes in chefs. I’d go back there any time. The wine pairing is great, too.

4. Expatriate – I haven’t been there yet, but I have a certificate from Portland Food Adventures so I plan to go soon, being there right when they open in order to get a seat.

5. Le Pigeon – I’ve had some of my best meals there, Gabriel Rucker (pictured) is a very creative French-inspired chef. The dining room is always crowded and the noise level is high, so not the best for a “romantic” dinner, but it works for a fun foodie outing.

6. Nong’s Khao Man Gai – I’ve had her signature chicken and rice at Feast Portland and at a food cart festival and I am one of the few people who think it’s just kinda boring. It’s not something I’d spend money on when there are other options. As everyone else seems to swoon over it, I guess it’s like me and pho — I don’t get that, either.

7. Tanuki – I haven’t been there yet.

8. Roe – We had a Portland Food Adventure in the Roe space back when WAFU debuted. It was uneven, some dishes were great, some were clunkers. The foie gras casserole was especially nasty. But then a return to WAFU before they closed to reopen as Block + Tackle was a fantastic meal. So I’m looking forward to a return someday to Roe.

9. Sweedeedee – I had a Portland Food Adventures certificate and went there for a late breakfast about two years ago. I was underwhelmed by the breakfast plate I got, which was eggs baked in toast with a little salad on top. Boring, and it took over 30 minutes to get it after ordering. They had a radio playing VERY LOUD, so loud I almost asked if they could turn it down, it was painful. The whole atmosphere was a little too close to rural squalor – the mason jar water glasses are funky and the seating is back-porch informal/uncomfortable. But they end up on lots of lists as a must-go place. The USA Today writer says the sandwiches are great, so I may return for a sandwich.

10. Urban Farmer – I enjoyed some of their work at the Chef’s Week dinner and I’d love to enjoy a dinner at Urban Farmer.

I've Been Eating…

I’m firing up this LocavOregon site again to complement my other writing. I’ve been doing many reviews that don’t quite fit into my Sustainable Foods niche on Examiner.com as they deal more with restaurants and food events. Here is a round-up of my recent forays into the Portland food scene:

Chef's Week PDX Chefs
Chef's Week PDX Chefs

I can also be found on Facebook at @Locavoregon and Twitter @Locavoregon.

Peas, Tomatoes, Peppers and Collard Greens

My garden has been growing, although I believe the contractor mixed in some of the old bark dust with the soil. Since it contained Caseron to keep the weeds away, I haven’t been able to sprout anything from seed except for the peas. The peas might have benefited from an area less tainted, but they grew well and I’ve frozen a couple bags of them.

Now, late July, the first tomatoes and peppers are ready to sample. I picked a large beef tomato and we had our first BLT sandwich. It was great. The chocolate pepper I picked was mild and still green but worked well in my breakfast mini-quiches.

The collard greens are finally full-sized, so I picked a bunch and cooked them with bacon bits for dinner with a pork steak. They were dandy.

The CSA is providing a lot of large white onions this year, so it’s as well that my onions didn’t sprout.