Time to catch up on a couple week's worth of reviews, starting with the first official review of the South Waterfront's lavish Quartet. WWeek's Michael C. Zusman acknowledges the spot's bumpy early buzz and praises it for "wanting to fill the fine-dining void and help Portland realize its full gastronomic potential." And yes, compared to other online chatter, the review offers a more measured take on the menu, where a "satisfying meal" can be had if you "pretend you are at El Gaucho" order the simpler, steakhouse items.
The minuses, however, included a "partly raw" $16 hamburger (dubbed the Cheech & Chong burger for its "bizarre" accompaniments), and a "sorry" Dungeness crab cake "that arrived with the iodine reek of cheap brown gulf shrimp." Elsewhere, deep-fried lobster is "defeated" by its sauce, while a "decent" chicken breast suffered from a clumsy maple sauce. Writes Zusman, "The lessons were there to be learned from Lucier's failure, but they appear to have gone unheeded." [WW]
WWeek is similarly dismissive of NE Albert's Chicago-style pizza spot Via Chicago, which suffers from "consistent timing problems, forgotten ingredients, sodden sandwiches and a doughy crust that's nothing like the real thing." The overly flour-y crust weighs down the otherwise "solid" meat and veggie toppings, although "the ample application of cheese" — considered less offensive than the Mercury's assessment — at least "doesn't make the pizza greasy." Ultimately, "there isn't much to recommend the place." Fun fact, though: WWeek will apparently fly in a legit Chicago deep-dish pizza when comparison is necessary: who says food criticism is dead? [WW]
Meanwhile, the Portland Tribune pays a visit to chef Eric Bechard's adventurous Kingdoom of Roosevelt, home to several "startling flavor combinations." Not everything works — viewer Anne Marie DiStefano finds the duck breast chewy and "slightly muddy," while the hunter's stew is a "brave" dish that works better as just a concept — but several items evoke references to Bechard's "genius." Custard shines, morels arrive "carefully crisped," and a pickled elk's tongue "was a dish like a mobile sculpture: colorful, balanced, constantly changing, depending on the angle of approach." DiStefano embraces the wild leanings, calling the experience a "meal with a story to tell." [Tribune]
Image of Quartet courtesy Avila/EPDX