Portage is directly across the street from the perennial darling restaurant of people who care about things, How to Cook a Wolf. You might think this would make Portage the "overflow place" for How to Cook a Wolf. Well, if you think that you must suffer from Trisomy 21, because you're retarded. Portage fucking rules.
Why is this guy so fucking smiley? Because the restaurant he owns RULES. (Photo credit: Jay Friedman)
We started with a miner's lettuce salad ($9). Tart lemony leaves of miner's lettuce were artfully scattered across the plate with walnuts, minced shallots, and a small wedge of ashen goat cheese in a sweet vinaigrette. This salad was really tasty and was so delicately composed and pastoral, it was like a Hokusai woodcut on a plate.
The duck breast special ($23) sounded so irresistible that we were powerless to avoid ordering it. That's because the waiter inaccurately described this as "cassoulet." I was so fucking psyched because cassoulet KICKS ASS! Unfortunately, it was false advertising: while the duck special, like actual cassoulet, had both duck meat and white beans, just because it has two of the same ingredients doesn't make it the same thing. By that logic, I could call a pizza a "cheeseburger" because they both have meat and cheese. I could call your mom "sexy" because both she and Christina Hendricks have tits. That doesn't make it true, you know.Still, this so-called "cassoulet" was pretty fucking tasty. A duck breast, grilled to a lurid and unrepentant rare, was served sliced on the bias atop a pile of creamy white beans. The beans were perfectly cooked: tender and creamy, subtle and subservient, they slipped right out of their skins the moment you bit into them without a trace of resistance. The duck was damn good too, with a crusty caramelized skin and juicy flesh, but unfortunately there was a petulant wire of gristle running right through the middle of the breast. But that's a minor quibble. Animals do, after all, have stuff in them you can't eat.
Diver scallops ($18) were as crusty and salty as an ancient mariner outside, but cooked to a perfect medium rare inside. These were served with a scattering of sautéed shallots on top, nestled into a bed of potato risotto. I can honestly say I've never had a risotto like this. In fact, as of this writing I can't decide if I liked it or not. The rice didn't seem undercooked, but it wasn't as creamy as I think risotto should be. Each grain was tender but separate. It tasted very angular, like eating a mouthful of Tetris.
We closed out with a pear tart ($7). Results were mixed: the pear itself was poached, but still a bit crisp. The pastry was maybe too leathery, and the accompanying scoop of ricotta ice cream had the crumbly and chalky consistency of deodorant, but the caramel sauce that was draped over the tart was so silky and creamy and sweet I'd lick it off of Mike Tyson's cock.
Portage is understated but completely fuckable, like the secretly hot nerdy chick in every movie ever made about unrequited love. Don't make Portage sigh and cry secretly to itself while pining for your affection. Go there now.
Rating: 8.5 nerds out of 10
Portage is located at 2209 Queen Anne Avenue North
For reservations call 206-352-6213