Photo of Trifecta Tavern courtesy Avila/EPDX
The Mercury's brand-new restaurant critic Andrea Damewood files her first review, and it completes the hat trick of local publications chiming in on Trifecta Tavern. Damewood goes with an horse-race metaphor for her take, bestowing "horse race names" onto dishes and flaunting other betting analogies before deciding Ken Forkish's much-buzzy restaurant is "winning by a nose." Highlights are found in dishes that "don't push the envelope": There's praise for the "delicious" pimento burger, oysters trifecta, and Brussels sprouts and chorizo that are "done with aplomb and skill in the kitchen's wood-fired oven."
But "Forkish would still be advised to send about one-third of his menu to the glue factory," including the over-pickled grilled marrow bones and a "hot mess" of shrimp and grits. As with other critical takes, there's love for the cocktails and desserts. Ultimately: "When you lay your hard-earned money down on the right dishes, you're set for a meal that easily ranks as one of the most satisfying in the city. But pick the wrong plate — it's easy to do — and you're throwing your money away." Choose wisely. [Mercury]
The Oregonian's Michael Russell pins 1.5 stars (a mark between "satisfactory" and "good") onto the Concordia neighborhood's two-month-old Nonna, which offers a "sharply executed menu of mostly Old World Italian dishes." Just as he did at Nonna's sister restaurant D.O.C., chef Jobie Bailey "likes to push the limit with strong flavors," though in dishes like spaghetti aglio e olio and over-charred rapini, the heavy hand "brought as much pain as pleasure." But Russell finds much to like in most dishes: squid and olive linguine with an "eye-opening red sauce," "delicious" Brussels sprouts with chile flakes and lemon.
The best options appear to be the "homier" dishes that hark to Nonna's name — "grandmother" in Italian — including a whole-roasted trout and a "homestyle tomato-ricotta manicotti." Of the latter, highest praise: "Bailey's version is probably better than the one your grandmother made." One-and-a-half stars. [OregonLive]
Two weeks ago, the James Beard Foundation named McMinnville's Nick's Italian Cafe one of its America's Classic restaurants, an honor that's only been bestowed on one other Oregon restaurant (the Original Pancake House). To mark the occasion, WWeek heads to wine country to update its review, and Martin Cizmar discovers an uneven experience. "At its best moments, Nick's reminded me of an older cousin to Ava Gene's," Cizmar writes, though at other times, "it shows some of those unfortunate wrinkles restaurants develop after passing to a second generation."
Should you find yourself in wine country, order Nick's pork and spinach ravioli, winter squash salad, and of course, any wine on its "serious" list. Pizzas — a new menu addition — are fine, though "more like something made by a superb home cook than the product of a full-time pizzaiolo," and a full-on dud arrived in the form of an "undercooked" pork sausage. Ultimately, the Beard nod is "an honor I'll toast, even if Nick's is probably more notable as a clubhouse for pinotphiles... than somewhere Portlanders should drive an hour to drop $100 on dinner for two." [WW]
· All Previous Weeks in Review [Eater PDX]