AS MORE AND MORE YOUNG, enthusiastic restaurateurs and chefs arrive in Portland, there’s no denying that the pioneering handful of seasonal, local, sustainable restaurants that opened here to national acclaim back in the 1990s have sometimes receded from the critical spotlight—while the newer, hipper restaurants take their turn at winning accolades. But that doesn’t mean the old guard aren’t still churning out some of the best food and service in town. Paley’s Place, that little house of a restaurant tucked away on NW 21st Ave just north of Lovejoy, has for 12 years remained unwavering in its innovative approach to cuisine and in its commitment to graceful solicitousness, not to mention its deep-seated dedication to fresh ingredients from local farmers.
It can be difficult to shake the heady effects of the escargot à la Bordelaise.
Between Kimberly Paley’s ability to orchestrate the packed dining room with undying spirit and effortless spunk and chef Vitaly Paley’s ability to strike a delicate balance between classic and cutting-edge cuisine, the husband-and-wife team behind Paley’s Place deserve enthusiastic applause. And indeed, those are the qualities that have earned the restaurant a loyal following over the years. It can be difficult, after all, to shake the heady effects of Paley’s escargot à la Bordelaise served with roasted marrow bones, parsley salad and grilled bread on which to spread the velvety marrow. And when the ravioli, stuffed with corn and chanterelles and served in a nage (vegetable broth) of heirloom tomatoes, inspires lush hyperbole, that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Even an amuse-bouche of cold melon soup served in a shot glass whose rim is speckled with tarragon-infused sea salt will convert the most circumspect diner.
These are all dishes that seem, on the surface, easy to execute, but in truth they only work when prepared by a chef who understands the subtleties of each ingredient and can prepare them with a trained, talented hand. In fact, it’s that very talent and knowledge that drive many young, idealistic chefs, upon arriving in town for the first time, to head straight to Paley’s Place in search of guidance from the guru himself. It’s why we’ll always head there too. 1204 NW 21st Ave, 503-243-2403