The idea of Dining Month Portland is to encourage out of town visitors to check out the restaurants, but - and this is just a guess on my part - I think locals partake in it just as much or even more.
Paley's Place, in Northwest Portland, is one of the top restaurants in the city, with owner Vitaly Paley recently appearing on Iron Chef America (and winning the radish challenge) and also authoring a book. Paley's prides itself on sustainable, local food done with a French twist (Paley's background).
The restaurant also does half and full portions of many of its entrees, something we love because it means we get to taste more things without getting stuffed.
With the Dining Month special it worked out the dessert was free based on the menu list prices. The offered a salad, a dessert, and an entrees. We ordered another entree and another dessert and shared everything.
We were started off with some fresh bread from Ken's Artisan Bakery, which is just down the street.
Then came the salad.
George's Gathered Greens - with lemon and extra virgin olive oil
This may be the best salad I've ever eaten. The lemon aided a whole new dimension for me. See those white things on top? Radishes. He's good with them.
The first entree, the one as part of the Dining Month menu, was a half-order of grilled pork shoulder.
Grilled pork shoulder with fava beans, raab, and apple cider pork jus
Again, this was excellent. The vegetables on the side were just as tasty as the pork, and apple cider jus provided the right amount of sweetness.
Our other entree was a half order of grilled salmon. Our waiter - who was very, very helpful and courteous - told us it came from the Quinalt Indian Nation in northern Washington (yes Twilight fans, the same Quinalt, but no, I don't think our fish was caught by a shapeshifter/werewolf), on the Olympic peninsula. Apparently rules state 90% of the fish caught there must stay with the nation and Paley's has a deal for a decent chunk of the final 10%. Our fish was caught by a fisherman named Sonny, so - thanks Sonny!
Quinalt River grilled salmon with pesto, braised leeks, roasted potatoes and turnips, and greens.
The skin on this fish was amazing - crunchy and salty. Wifey doesn't like fish skin so I ate the whole thing. And it was heaven.
Here's another view. The fish was cooked medium rare, but the flavors were excellent. I've never put pest on salmon - might have to try that at home.
Then it was time for dessert. Paley's pastry chef is Kristen Murray, also widely regarded as one of the best in the city. Since we love our desserts, we were excited to try her treats. This toasted coconut cake came with the Dining Month menu.
Toasted coconut cake with salted butter ice cream and pineapple
We weren't sure about salted butter ice cream, but it was done with a light touch and worked perfectly with the coconut cake, served warm.
Wifey ordered the chocolate souffle cake after agonizing between that and the creme brulee.
Chocolate souffle cake with toasted hazelnuts and honey-vanilla ice cream
Everything on this plate complemented everything else, even the hazelnuts - and neither of us are super excited about nutty things.
My only gripe is I was still a tad hungry at the end, which just meant we should have chosen the full order of salmon. Duly noted for next time - and there will be a next time. Paley's Place is one of those Portland restaurants that can't be missed. (And we might have to try another restaurant or two before Dining Month is over.)