Friday, March 24, 2017

Portland Dining Month: Reasons to Get Out and Savor Portland Cuisine


You've got a week more to enjoy Portland Dining Month. This is about much more than saving a few bucks. While the three course menus total up to only $29 during the month of March, that is only the lure to entice us all out to Portland Restaurants. Portland ranks #10 in the number of restaurants per capita in the U.S. (San Francisco is #1). Trulia touts Portland as one of the "Top Metros for Eating Out."

Dining out in Portland... yes!
But some of us, for various inexcusable reasons, don't venture out to Portland's top restaurants as a rule. It takes a special month to get us out of our financial and foodie comfort zones. So here's why you should devote the last days of March to getting out to Portland restaurants and choosing the $29 three course Portland Dining Month Menus.

Portland Dining Month Does the Work For You
The Portland Dining Month website organizes your decision-making process.You can search for a restaurant in a particular neighborhood by using their map and can search restaurant options by type of restaurant. Once you get to your chosen restaurant you can click to see their menu (very important) and, in many cases, click to book a table. Reservations are always recommended. Portland Dining Month partners with Oregon Food Bank, making a donation to the hunger-relief organization for every reservation booked through the OpenTable links on their website.

Portland Restaurants Strut Their Stuff
Portland chefs take pride in their cuisine and their restaurants. They genuinely want to reach out and share that with new customers. So, it's not about saving money for them. Portland Dining Month menus are carefully thought out and sequenced to provide you with the best the restaurant has to offer. Our recent visit to Urdaneta introduced us to such innovations as Coliflor... roasted cauliflower with dates, capers, almonds, with a brush stroke of leek ash emulsion. I loved the tender cauliflower and the sweet addition of the dates. In fact the whole menu was memorable.

Urdaneta's roasted cauliflower, dates, capers, almonds with a leek ash emulsion

Urdaneta's beautiful and tender filet of culotte steak, romanesco, leek marmalade and valdeon foam.
Since there were two of us and two choices per course we had it all! That gave us an opportunity to taste six small plates (including 2 delectable desserts) from the kitchen of Chef Javier Canteras. We enjoyed watching the chefs cook and carefully plate each course to order in the open kitchen. Pairing the tapas with Spanish wine added an authentico touch to our experience. That's extra.

We enjoyed watching the Urdaneta chefs prepare each plate in the open kitchen.
You'll Make a Foodie Find
I've been to Nel Centro in downtown Portland before but didn't realize that getting there could be simplified by using the adjacent hotel's valet parking. During Portland Dining Month I found out that we could valet park at Hotel Modera.

From Nel Centro's Portland Dining Month Menu. Save room for dessert!
We enjoyed the options during Dining Month. I chose a rotisserie chicken which ended up providing enough chicken to take home for dinner the next day. My friend selected the lighter sweet potato ravioli with black truffle butter and hazelnuts which was amazing. We all agreed that the gorgeous and very creamy Lemon Semifreddo was the hit of the evening. I don't usually order dessert, but during Portland Dining Month if it is on the menu I indulge!

So Get Out and Dine!
For the entire month of March, more than 120 of the city’s top-tier restaurants are offering three-course meals for just $29. Returning for its eighth year March 1, 2017, Dining Month offers 31 whole days to chew your way down your restaurant bucket list — whether it’s revisiting a Portland classic or sampling something new.

Autentica's Pork Carnitas... we'd return for this dish!
I found myself choosing Autentica two years in a row (not that I could remember I chose them last year!). The reason? Well, I love authentic Mexican food and love the twist they put on their regional cuisine. This year I chose everything on the menu that included avocado, my favorite, and savored the excellent Carnitas de puerco: roasted pork shoulder with grilled tomatillo salsa and salpicon which was a new dish for me.
I am a lover of avocado and Autentica makes theirs with plenty of cilantro, another fav of mine!
I always enjoy the anticipation of the March listing of Portland restaurants. Next year, I'll try three or four new ones. It's hard not to return to ones I have tried and loved, but trying new things is half the fun of this dining month!