Going to a new city is a chance for reinvention. In NYC I often think it would be nice to go to a restaurant and sit at the bar by myself. To treat myself to a nice meal and a nice wine, and maybe eat in silence, and maybe become BFFs with the bartender, and maybe make a new friend. The reality is that if I am not out with friends, I try to eat at home--it's the thrifty thing to do, and it insures that I cook at least now and again.
With a few hours to kill in Portland, OR, I had the opportunity to be the eater I always mean to be but never get to be. I did some reconnaissance and scoped out a hot new culinary mecca called Le Pigeon. I sat at the bar, and watched the two chefs work their magic. Barely breaking a sweat as they danced around the hot grill, they flipped and salted and toasted and sprinkled with panache.
It was a terrific meal--innovative and delicious, both simple and new. I started with a raddichio salad dressed with a mustardy vinaigrette, follwed by a delicate and pink rabbit on a bed of wild mushrooms, and polished it all off with--get this--honey apricot BACON cornbread with maple ice cream and BACON. Dessert + BACON = : )
And I drank my Riesling and I had good conversation with the patron next to me (another local chef, a hoster of supper clubs, and a maker of his own salami), and I was fabulous. And then the cab took me straight to the airport and I arrived back in NYC rumpled and stiff-necked, and back to my old tricks.