Finding Park Kitchen was a trial for two gals with very little experience navigating Portland. We found Park Avenue (Street), but we were in the wrong quadrant. There is a SW and a NW: who, without a map, knew? Finally, with the knowledge the kitchen stayed open for lunch until 2 pm, we arrived at around 1 pm.
A fine establishment! First the service: top notch! We felt welcome, as late as we were for lunch, and not rushed in the least. I sniffed out a seat as close to the kitchen as possible: open kitchen, so we watched and listened to the staff. Disappointed no females in the kitch, as I'm most inclined to dine in a feminine kitchen at those prices, but the banter emerging from the grill area was inoffensive, and, refreshingly, in English! So what the freak, Portland is a different world -- an urbane oddity, a mystery to me; and I'm just a rube, a hick, an interloper anyways: no judgment here, except where the food meets the taste-buds.
Herewith, we began with cocktails from the delightful libations menu! $9 apiece, but this was really our only fancy meal of the trip, so we drank. Though the "Kentucky Battle" tickled me ("2 mini manhattans: Wild Turkey rye and Buffalo Trace bourbon"), we settled on The Replacement for my just-landed friend ("Aquavit, Benedictine, Lillet Blanc, Fernet Branca, OJ") and a Slivovitz Swizzle for me ("Slivovitz, mint, lime, sugar, crushed ice, Peychauds bitters").
Both were nice, hers sweet, mine freshly minty with a wad of just picked, muddled mint leaves crammed into the bottom of the high ball. Yum! Effective!
I praise Park Kitchen for having a "Power Lunch" menu wherein you may order a soup, a lunch entree, and a dessert for one low-ish price. I'm operating on memory now because the Park Kitchen's stylish web site does not have a current menu up. So for a soup, we had a pureed nettles and asparagus soup, creamy, bright green and studded with tiny pickled asparagus discs. Next the main course of some kind of cod on a bed of something or other for my guest, and a lively take on a banh mi sandwich for me. Lots of pickled vegetables, which are trendy I gather, and crunchy, almost rock-like bread. Was I too late for lunch or was it supposed to be so so hard? Seemed to have two kinds of pork inside: a roast tenderloin slice and a hammier, pink version. Yum. Oh and ps: the jalapenos are pickled on site. Cool.
Dessert! Oh, dessert. Just happened to be the most memorable part of this meal. Soft, crumbly, warm chocolate cookies and beet sorbet. Yeah, we thought it was marionberry or raspberry and were surprised to taste dirt on our tongues. I ate half, as it was VERY sweet, and my guest barely tasted it a second time. Two unsophisticated Ohio-bred palates, pushin our plates away in a vote against a top shelf dessert. Shame.
I would like to go to Park Kitchen again and again, so whoever flies in to visit us will also get the pleasure of their seasonal, ever-changing, and ever-trendy menu.