IF 2009 MEANT food carts, happy hours, and economy-friendly masterpieces crafted from the lesser parts of animals, a one-evening introduction to three of the newest faces at Portland restaurants suggests that something entirely new is afoot. So let’s dust off that old neighborhood party favorite, the progressive dinner, and get started at the Pearl District eatery Ten 01 for a serving of Michael Hanaghan’s dreamy pâté.
The simple, rustic preparation of great local ingredients has long been a hallmark of Portland chefs, but Hanaghan is part of a growing new wave of exquisitely refined cuisine. For Ten 01’s pâté, he sends three different meats through the smallest attachment of his meat grinder, resulting in a perfect marriage of flavor and texture: chicken liver mellowed with milk-soaked bread, chunks of Canadian veal, and then, for that creamy mouthfeel, a portion of luscious pork fatback. After coaxing the entire concoction into a smooth brick, Hanaghan cloaks it with thin San Daniele prosciutto slices and serves it in one-inch-thick, palm-size slabs. Textured with specks of black pepper, a dash of brandy, and the warm notes of thyme, it will instantly make you realize that there are two types of forcemeat in Portland: Michael Hanaghan’s and everyone else’s. Hanaghan is just one of several highly pedigreed recent arrivals, having learned his craft at the perfectionist knee of chef Thomas Keller. We could easily linger over his other, equally highly crafted dishes, but for now let’s move down the road to try a second course.