1139 NW 11th Ave; 503-517-7778
Small plates and salads $7–14, entrees $19–30
Oregon has long been a wine lover’s paradise. But for those of us without pharmaceutical-rep salaries, most restaurant wine lists might as well be Donald Trump’s monthly American Express statement. Enter Metrovino. This 18-month-old Pearl District gem caters to oeno-geeks and novices alike (an unusual feat in itself), with neither having to spend lavishly for a tasting and eating adventure.
Thanks to a pricy, high-tech Italian pressurized cabinet system that prevents wine from spoiling, Metrovino sells more wines by the glass than most restaurants list by the bottle. It even peddles half-glasses of champagne and wallet-friendly 1.75-ounce pours, the ideal increment for food-pairing. But don’t call Metrovino a wine bar. It’s a full-fledged dining establishment led by executive chef Gregory Denton, who honed his wine-friendly riffs at Terra, a revered Napa Valley dining room.
Metrovino’s world wine tour includes impressively selected flights of three one-ounce pours of like-minded wines. Consider New and Old World chardonnay for an order of mellow gravlax (smoked salmon), a big Italian red with the gratin of Roman-style tripe stew, or run a gauntlet of grand cru Burgundies, Oregon pinots, and Bordeaux that all do justice to Denton’s creative treatment of proteins—like a grilled lamb T-bone served with a wheel of house-made fennel lamb sausage and an interplay of tart chevre, sweet fig, and a black-olive tapenade. Care to upgrade from the rarefied realm of Chateau Doisy Vedrines Sauternes to the supreme Ontario ice wine midway through dessert? Do it: a one-ounce pour barely tops a 10-spot. In fact, a recent tour of six great wines, including a top-shelf Oregon pinot, totaled only $25.
Finally, a Portland restaurant has cast wine in its proper role—as essential to the dining experience as chewing and swallowing. —MT