I’m not embarrassed to admit that when my parents come to town, I still get excited when they offer to take me anywhere I want for dinner on their dime. Okay, I’m a little embarrassed. But the allure of a disgustingly indulgent no-strings attached supper, the kind where you overorder extravagantly and don’t feel one morsel of guilt for the two pre-dinner martinis and fit of indecision that resulted in you ordering two and possibly three desserts, is the stuff this budget-conscious food writer’s dreams are made of.
I’m not embarrassed to admit that when my parents come to town, I still get excited when they offer to take me anywhere I want for dinner on their dime. Okay, I’m a little embarrassed. So where do I go when the offer is made? Paley’s Place.
So where do I go when the offer is made? Paley’s Place, one of Portland’s most esteemed fine dining establishments, housed in a beautiful, elegantly appointed old Victorian on the quiet end of NW 21st Avenue.
Yes, it’s kind of funny sitting amongst the lovey dovey couples and big bucks expense accounters with my parents like a big dork, but I don’t care. I order a Peach Royale–sugar cube soaked with peach bitters & Knob Creek bourbon topped with Argyle sparkling wine, then start with the American Wagyu steak tartare. I rapturously drink our bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape while basking in the glow imparted by each beautiful bite of roasted and stuffed lamb loin and creamy polenta.
Then I savor a wedge of Le Crémeux de Bourgogne cheese before dessert–which might be Paley’s crème brûlée, or the olive oil cake with pear-cherry compote and caramel ice cream, or the butterscotch pot de crème with warm chocolate brownie cookies and whipped cream, or maybe all three.
The fat lady (me, at this point) of epicurean extravagance sings over a digestif of Clear Creek Pear Brandy, and then it’s back out into the cold cruel real world of food carts and happy hours. Thanks Mom and Dad!!
Executive Chef: Patrick McKee
Owner: Vitaly and Kimberly Paley
Atmosphere: Warm, inviting, welcoming, it’s like eating at a very gracious friend’s home, except your friend is one of Portland’s—and America’s—best chefs
Outdoor seating: Paley's front porch tables are one of the loveliest spots in town to enjoy a peerless supper on a warm summer’s eve
Best Seat: They are all great, although it’s absolute heaven to sit on the front porch on a warm summer evening
Noise Level: Dignified, converse normally with ease
Bathrooms: Between the bar and the dining room, behind the hostess table just as you enter the front door
Parking: Free but not necessarily easy to find on side streets. Allow yourself time to park, or just take the streetcar, it stops right outside at NW Northrup and NW 21st.
Cocktails: Full bar and list of specialty cocktails ($9-$10), also a nice list of Single Malts scotches, cognacs, brandies, and dessert wines/ports
Beer: The beer list includes Sierra Nevada Summerfest, Deschutes Black Butte Porter, Pilsner Urquell and Amstel Light, $4-$6
Corkage: $20 per 750mL
Coffee: Caffe Umbria
Ideal Meal: Steak Tartare, rabbit ravioli, crab & corn risotto, cassoulet, one of each dessert
Vegetarian Friendly: Certainly, offerings include the poached green garlic shoots, with mustard vinaigrette and soft egg mimosa, the risotto with spring peas, young carrots, parmesan and mint butter, and the heirloom bean and vegetable cassoulet.
Vegan Friendly: Yes, with accommodations
Good for the following occasions: Birthdays and Anniversaries. Parents Are Paying, Impress The Client, Just Desserts
Reservations: Yes, recommended
Deals: I happen to think the half portions on many of the entrees are a deal, and as for events, check out Wine Wednesdays: 3 individually priced flights with a complimentary mystery wine & special offerings to match from the kitchen.