Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Veritable Quandary

As usual, we did a lot of research on restaurants in Portland, OR before we actually arrived. One place we both really wanted to try was Veritable Quandary. I just love the name! We made a reservation a week in advance for dinner our first evening in the city. I don't think you need reservations, you can walk in, but if you walk in, you risk a long wait. Veritable Quandary seems like a very popular place.
I didn't really get a sense of the interior. I know it was pretty chilly that evening, so diners were not dining outside on the patio. We were seated just behind the hostess station in a huge wood booth. They explained that it seemed to be the best place for wheelchair diners. I, however, was not too thrilled, because it was a booth, not table, and I was seated on the open end, so I was basically sticking out into the path of traffic for both diners and the servers since we were between the rest of the restaurant and the kitchen. I quickly realized my wheelchair was the same height as the wood bench booth, so I scooted into the booth and we pushed the wheelchair under the table. I was much happier being out of the traffic flow, but gosh that wood pew-like bench seating was hard on my derriere and back. The other tables are not that kind of seating, I saw more comfy looking tables & chairs, I think it's just the two tables/booths right behind the hostess area, so don't let that hard wood bench keep you away.
After the car accident earlier in the day, the chillier than expected weather, and then the hard wood bench, I decided I needed a cocktail. I ordered a Bulleit Rye with ginger cocktail. SP ordered a gin, mint, cucumber, and lemongrass cocktail. He loved his drink, declaring it possibly the best gin cocktail he's ever had. I did not like mine at all. I did not expect it to arrive in a martini glass. It tasted like sipping straight bourbon/whiskey. I didn't taste any ginger, none of the other flavors listed on the menu. I was so darn disappointed. It was undrinkable. I shuddered every time I took a sip. It was way too strong for me. SP tried it and felt the same as I did about it. It was left more than half unfinished - what a disappointment.
The bread, however, was delicious. Crusty, soft, tasty. We demolished the bread plate.
I started with a salad of warm chevre crostini, fresh raspberries, Oregon strawberries, greens, roasted hazelnuts, and honey pepper vinaigrette. This salad was excellent. Small but super ripe, juicy, and flavorful raspberries and strawberries. A very generous slice of pepper crusted chevre on a toasty crostini. Crisp greens. I nearly finished the entire salad, which is unusual for me. Usually I give SP about half my salad. This time, he lost out. He was kinda pouty about only getting 1 of my raspberries!!!
For his starter, he chose Bacon Wrapped Dates stuffed with chevre & marcona almonds. He said these were delicious. I tried a bite and barely tasted but merely sensed the sweet date.
The bacon gave an excellent smoky flavor, the chevre was cooling and creamy. I normally don't like this kind of appetizer, but I'd order these again for sure.
For my entree, I ordered Osso Bucco with parmesan and basil risotto. To be fair, I was exhausted from the cross country flight and the stress of the car accident, plus my back and derriere were killing me at this point in the meal, and we hadn't had a proper lunch so I was a bit afraid of over-eating and upsetting my sensitive stomach (which happens a lot, if I skip a meal or eat a meal too late/too early, I'm doomed to tummy distress). So it's possible those are reasons why I didn't enjoy this as much as I expected to/wanted to. The meat was moist and juicy. The risotto was very flavorful and creamy, lots of basil flavor. I remember I couldn't stop eating the risotto. Lots of rich, tomato flavor and chunks of carrot plus the bone and a small fork to get out the marrow. It was huge - I managed to eat most of it and sadly, since we were at a hotel and not at home, I didn't try to take the leftovers with me. It was quite tasty, but not quite as swoon-worthy as similar dishes I've had elsewhere.
SP ordered fish, big surprise. Copper River Salmon served with fried lemon slices, asparagus, peas, and green beans. Lots of peas.
He said it was delicious. He ate all of the green veggies (and salmon), and he really liked that there were so many since he prefers veggies to a starch.
I was way too full for dessert, so instead of our usual sharing of two desserts or sharing the tiramisu (which I really wanted to try but gosh I was just too full) we shared SP's dessert choice: Lemon Crepe Cake. Many, many crepe layers with lemon cream in between. The top was bruleed, some raspberries and a mint sprig on the side. I can't decide how I feel about this dessert. I think, overall, we were a bit disappointed, the idea being better than the execution. The lemon cream was deliciously lemony tart, but the crepes were a bit overwhelming. We ended up ripping the layers apart, scooping out the lemon cream, and leaving the crepe parts behind. They seemed kind of... mushy.

I would go back to Veritable Quandary, but ask for a different seat or hope for a day warm enough to be outside. I cannot complain enough about our seat area and those wood benches! The employees were very friendly and accommodating, checking on us frequently. Our server was very friendly, although a small quibble is that I asked her to check on garlic in the osso bucco and when she returned to take our order, after a wee bit longer than we would have expected, she had forgotten to check. My cocktail was awful, but perhaps I just don't like rye bourbon/whiskey (I usually drink wheated bourbon).

I think our slight disappointment is from the extremely high reviews on both Yelp & Urbanspoon - they gave us extremely high expectations. Given what the entire meal cost us, we know we have had meals that cost the same/a bit less but we enjoyed every single component whereas here, my cocktail and dessert were, to us, not especially enjoyable.

But there was enough good/tasty that we would return.

Veritable Quandary Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

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