Monday, October 27, 2008

Higgins - Portland, Oregon

As I previously mentioned, Higgins was less than four blocks from our hotel. It came heavily recommended from the gentleman that I have dubbed the Patron Saint of Portland. That Friday night, we finally enjoyed a slice of culinary heaven in the heart of Portland.

Like many restaurants in the area, Higgins relies on seasonal produce. As a result the menu for that Friday featured a scant 15 items, but all appeared to be well focused to take advantage of the local flora and fauna.

My mother decided to give these a try

Totten Inlet mussels steamed in a green chili broth with garlic-pimenton croutes may seem like a mouthful, but these were some of the best mussels I’ve ever tried. Plump and meaty, they were perfectly complimented by the chili broth.

I have to admit. I have a weakness, and it’s of the porcine variety. If a restaurant features a charcuterie plate, I have to have it. Higgins had just that.

It was almost too much to handle. It was only due to the kindness of our waiter that I was able to have all the names of the meats. He was kind enough to write them all down for me, and they were sopresatta, cappacola, lardo, lomo, palatta, fennel salami, and napolatana. While they were all wonderful, the lardo, in the top left corner, really stood head and shoulders above the rest. For those that are unaware, lardo really is lard, except that it is cured with a number of spices and herbs. Sliced this thin, it completely melted in your mouth for a symphony of flavors.

I wish I could tell you more about this steak, but I can’t find it on the menu from that evening. I do remember that it was perfectly cooked, and a delectable cut of beef.

Now, for the main attraction, I present to you, the “whole pig plate”

You really do need both pictures, just to take it all in. Like I said, I have a weakness for good pork, probably something I inherited from my mom, as she ordered the same dish. Now what are you looking at is a marvel, a crepenette, a confit rub, kielbasa, rillions (braised brisket), and smoked pork belly. It’s amazing that all these cuts came from the same animal, and they all exhibit different flavors and textures. Oh yea, there’s also a nice little chili & onion polenta cake, braised greens, and a lobster mushroom marmalade.

As good as it all looked; you have to believe me that it tasted even better. There honestly was not a single thing wrong with the meal. The wait staff were practically falling over themselves to help, the food was sublime and took full advantage of local fare, and the setting was delightful.

I think this picture of the kitchen truly sums up Higgins. Even though everyone is running at a fever pitch to make your meal perfect, they will still take the time to smile for the camera.

Higgins on Urbanspoon

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