Brownifer Bites: Le Pigeon

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Le Pigeon

We've been in a daze since dinner last night. This seems to be the inevitable outcome of dining at Le Pigeon in Portland; the restaurant just never disappoints. I say restaurant, because it isn't only about the chefs. The food they so eloquently prepare is the star, yes: but without every integral player, the experience of tasting impeccable food would be deficient. Let me break it down.

Wolfgang Puck said, "Cooking is like painting or writing a song. Just as there are only so many notes or colors, there are only so many flavors - it's how you combine them that sets you apart." Let me tell you that this statement won't make any sense to you (even if you think it does) until you try Chef Rucker's creations. Honest, well-sourced, humble ingredients fondled and displayed in ways designed to take your breath away and question everything you think you know about putting food together. It's so incredibly daring and sexy. If a dish has ingredients at which I normally upturn my nose, at Le Pigeon I eat it fearlessly. I know and trust that it's a vital part of the flavors Chef Rucker has put together. And I love it. Every. Single. Time.
Seared Foie Gras, wild rice pancake, trout roe, sour cream, green onion, soy maple syrup

Food as music or poetry? Definitely. If Le Pigeon's food is the music, then his staff are the dancers in a flawless ballet. My favorite part of a culinary experience is getting lost in the food and wine so that my senses are swimming in a silvery pool of nirvana with not a care in the world. I shouldn't have to think about a THING but what that sophisticated food is doing to my innocent taste buds. At Le Pigeon I don't even have to choose my wine; they pair it perfectly with each dish I'm being served. And I do mean perfectly. The thing I love about wine (aside from the physical effects) is what it does to the food you're eating. If Chef Rucker's musical food is the peak of perfection, then the wines become part of the crescendo in a symphony written to entice your taste buds into a dancing frenzy you will never forget. Yes, there was a ballet in my mouth last night. (insert jokes here) and I freely admit it.
Scallop Crudo. Scallops, celery root, avocado, green apple sorbet, jalapeno, mezcal
Pan seared rainbow trout, crab, black lentils, five onion salad, chive, tarragon, crab hollandaise

Aside from the wine pairing and impeccable knowledge of each member of the staff on said wines, there are so many other nuances that make the experience amazing. Silverware is never a worry, the used is whisked away and fresh, clean brought in for the next course. If I place my napkin on my chair, table, if it's dangling from a rung on the chair when I get up to use the bathroom, it's neatly folded on the table when I return. The staff asks about food allergies, they know the food, if you're celebrating something special, they're sure to gush and join in the excitement. You are left to think of NOTHING but the food. You know how much I love a well-choreographed dance! 
Beef Bourguignon '2016'. Pinot noir braised beef cheek, potato latke, red onion marmalade, carrots montreal

Cheers to this amazing staff for the warm and inviting atmosphere they create for the guests. I always feel welcome.

The ambiance in the restauraunt (or the beautifully painted sets, if you will) deserves to be mentioned.  It's entirely unpretentious.  The chefs set the tone with their relaxed t-shirt/apron/tattoes ensemble; it's like your neighbor invited you over for some good food.  There may be 90s R & B, there may be gangster rap...whatever they feel like jammin' to while they make you some good food.

Foie gras profiteroles. Foie gras ice cream, foie gras infused powdered sugar, foie gras infused caramel sauce, sea salt 

Speaking of neighbors, you're close by the other guests so that, if the mood is right, you may strike up a conversation with a friendly stranger over your meal.  That person may be wearing a $500 suit and you may be in Levi's and a flannel.  He may be eating a $300 meal while you're splurging on a $14 burger and a domestic beer.  No one cares, no one notices.  It's about the food, not about being snooty and pompous.  There is no room for inflated egos in this inviting atmosphere.  It's a dinner-table-away-from-home.  Bring your bunny slippers.
Stumptown Coffee

Needless to say, anything we eat for the next month will pale in comparison to the experience we had last night.  For now, we're deliriously spoiled and satiated.  And I've rambled on for way too long.

All I really wanted to say was, Chef Rucker:  composer and choreographer of my favorite edible ballet.
After-Dinner Chocolate Mints

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