Before revealing the Fearless Critic's top ten restaurants in Portland — and offering the text of those ten reviews on the Fearless Critic website — I want to invite you all to have a pint of beer on me, in the name of science.
A bit of background: my guide to wines under $15, The Wine Trials, has gotten such a great response that we've just released a second edition, called The Wine Trials 2010, which reveals the top 150 wines under $15 from this year's new vintages, based on blind tastings by a panel of experts and consumers.
I'm now working on a new book called The Beer Trials, based on a similar methodology, and my co-author is Portland native Seamus Campbell.
Seamus and I will be conducting a blind-tasting beer experiment this weekend at the Green Dragon, and we're looking for beer drinkers of all stripes to assist us in this delicious task.
Volunteers will be invited to sample a variety of beers — about a pint's worth — in exchange for filling out a short survey. The process is expected to take roughly half an hour. Join us any time between 1pm and 5pm, Saturday, December 5, and Sunday, December 6, at the Green Dragon, 928 SE 9th Ave. at Belmont. There's no charge to participate, but it's limited to 200 tasters each day. So come, hang out, drink beer, have lunch, meet some of the Fearless Critic people...and drink more beer. For more information, please contact Seamus (email@example.com).
A small part of Green Dragon's magnificent tap list this week
Second, at long last, here are the Fearless Critic top ten restaurants in Portland. I've made their full reviews free on our website.
On Tuesday, co-editor Alexis Herschkowitsch and I revisited our #1 pick in the book, Beast. It is a tiny, charming, two-seatings-only, everyone-eats-the-same-everything restaurant in what has been dubbed the "Fox-Chase Addition," the small proliferation of restaurants around the corner of Killingsworth and 30th, near the Alberta Arts District.
I am happy to report that we are as confident as ever in our top pick. We had a flawless meal, start to finish. Pickled chanterelles were bright moments of tang in a wintry kale-and-white-bean-soup with Tails and Trotters ham. Chicken-liver mousse with pickled shallot highlighted a sensational charcuterie plate. A show-stopping seared duck breast was rubbed with abandon and dressed with a carefully reduced duck demi-glace. And a rich, spongy caramelized date pudding was brilliantly smothered in nutty brown butter and a dollop of crème fraîche that was whipped by hand right in front of us. This was possibly the best dessert I have had in Portland this year. Beast is, in short, a world-class restaurant.
Beast: Charcuterie plate with pork, prune, and green peppercorn pâté, and steak tartare with quail egg toast
Beast: Caramelized date pudding with brown butter sauce and whipped crème fraîche
I've made freely available on our website the full text of the reviews the Fearless Critic's top 10 restaurants in Portland:
2. Le Pigeon
3. Park Kitchen
4. Pok Pok
5. Clyde Common
6. Beaker & Flask
8. Apizza Scholls
10. Thistle (McMinnville)
I also just wanted to call attention to a couple of my other favorite spots in town that didn't make the top 10 list:
Burger from the outdoor grill at Ned Ludd
Chefs working their magic at DOC
Little T American Baker
With that, I will leave you, but hopefully not for long. This being the last post as guest blogger this week for Powell's Books, I want to invite you all to my own blog, Blind Taste, where I'll be continuing to write about food, wine, beer, taste perception, and the politics of taste. I hope to see you and read your comments there.
I hope to hear your comments and feedback about the Fearless Critic Portland Restaurant Guides and suggestions for future editions, at firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to thank the staff at Powell's for the opportunity to contribute to this website, and for their support of our book project.