2225 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Portland
Dungeness crab cocktail. Cocktails are creative, yet not over-the-top, from La Yapa, a tasty whiskey drink with Fernet Braca, Grenadine and lemon to the sangria blanca with white wine gin, pineapple and mint. Two red wines from Mendoza further the Argentinian cause, but the rest of the wine list is an eclectic mix from France, Italy, Oregon and Washington. This place is still young and hot. Service is very good. Call for reservations.
Ashland, Smithfield’s, of British descent, is worth the jaunt. Inside this quaint-house-turned-restaurant, there is ample seating for a quiet date or larger tables to share with friends. Local growers are listed on a chalkboard wall that is the face of the kitchen. We ventured in at lunchtime, and started with the Kettle Chips and roasted garlic aioli ($4). Smithfield’s offers many British brews, local wines, and some intriguing house cocktails. There’s the “SOHO,” made with in-house strawberry infused gin, lemon juice, Cointreau, Prosecco float and a lemon twist. Worth going back for the drink alone. The Flat Iron steak sandwich with a cup of the house cod chowder ($14) and the shrimp po’ boy sandwich accompanied by a cup of carrot lemon verbena soup ($14). All were delicious and portioned relative to their price. For dessert, we opted salted caramel ice cream with bacon beignets. It was magical to say the least.
3155 E Burnside Street, Portland
Ox & Fin
105 Oakway Center, Eugene
Eugene restaurant, Osteria Sfizio. Rather than focusing exclusively on Italian food, the owners are offering Northwest cuisine with an Italian twist. The appetizers got the meal off to a great start. The buratta ($10), a soft, hand-stretched mozzarella, had amazing texture and wasn’t too heavy. The scallops ($13) were served with a tasty hazelnut romesco. The wine lists offered quality selections from the Northwest and all over the world. The rest of the meal, however, didn’t hold up to the promise of the first course. The short ribs ($21) came with polenta, and the combination was too heavy. The petit filet ($26) was ordered medium rare and came less than rare. Perhaps the lamb steak ($21), or the torchio ($18), homemade trumpet-shaped pasta served with fennel sausage, would have played more to the restaurant’s core strengths. Dessert needs tweaking, too. The cookie crust of the lemon curd tartlet ($8) was too hard to get a fork through, and the fruit in the peach and raspberry cobbler ($7) was undercooked. No doubt, Ox & Fin will work out the kinks over time. The sophisticated setting and focus on local, organic and GMO-free food could make it a real favorite.