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Carnivorous adventurers welcome here

Weekend!Food: Taste
by: DENISE FARWELL, A fine-dining outpost on lower East Burnside Street, Le Pigeon fills quickly, a fact that’s likely to ring even more true when it opens this weekend after having been closed for a week due to “technical difficulties.”

There's a scene in F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel 'Tender Is the Night' in which a character sits with friends in a swanky club on the French Riviera.

He directs their attention to people walking into the club. Talking about how self-conscious human beings are, he says that all who enter will automatically make some kind of gesture (straightening a tie, fiddling with eyeglasses) when they realize they're temporarily the center of attention.

I was reminded of the scene early last Sunday evening when I sat in my parked car on lower East Burnside Street.

I was meeting a friend at Le Pigeon (738 E. Burnside St., 503-546-8796), the small, popular eatery that opened last year. But the restaurant was closed.

A sign hanging on the door read: 'We are sorry for the inconvenience. Le Pigeon is closed tonight due to technical difficulties.' It continued, saying that it would reopen Saturday, April 7.

Owner Paul Brady says the explanation is that 'the dishwasher broke and had to be repaired, and we wanted to get the floors refinished anyway so we decided to do both at the same time.'

I was seriously disappointed. But sitting in my car waiting for my perpetually late friend, I also was fascinated observing people as they arrived at the restaurant's door.

Each couple (they were all couples) looked happy and excited as they walked toward Le Pigeon. But once they noticed the lights out and the chairs up on the tables, a look of dismay, sometimes even anger, replaced their smiles.

Then they stood together and gravely read the notice. Finally they walked away, dejected, the skip to their steps gone.

Caring deeply about food can lead to heartbreak. Le Pigeon is a foodie favorite because young chef Gabriel Rucker does amazing and unusual things with his ingredients.

Any meat lover with an adventurous palate must visit the restaurant. If you can, sit at the counter, because from there you can watch Rucker and his comrades create. And they seem happy to answer questions while they work.

Le Pigeon is not for wimps. Don't go unless you're willing to try strange new things.

On our last visit my husband ordered seared duck breast served on blood pudding. It was super-rich and delicious. When we asked why it's called blood pudding, the cook held up the loaf pan of pudding and said, 'We used a quart of fresh pig's blood to make it.'

So, intrepid diner, Le Pigeon is your place. Go right when it opens to reduce the wait for a place to sit. Actually, even if you must wait, it isn't too bad because you can give them your cell-phone number and get a drink at Doug Fir across the street to kill time.

The wait isn't likely to decrease any time soon. Food and Wine magazine just named Rucker one of the top ten Best New Chefs of 2007. Visit www.foodandwine.com/articles.2007-best-new-chefs to check out the article.

Le Pigeon is open 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. It serves brunch from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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Looking for something fun to do the day after Easter besides making egg salad sandwiches? Learn about the wines and cheeses of Spain.

On Monday, April 9, Ken Collura, the wine director of Andina restaurant, is teaching a class on Spanish wine and cheese at the Irvington neighborhood cheese shop Foster and Dobbs (2518 N.E. 15th Ave., 503-284-1157).

The class starts at 7:15 p.m. and costs $20; reservations are required (call 503-284-1157). Visit www.fosteranddobbs.com for information.

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Sweet little neighborhood restaurant Sub Rosa (2601 S.E. Clinton St., 503-233-1955) has added weekend breakfast to its roster. The menu includes five kinds of frittata, which it defines as an 'open-faced omelette.'

Those on a budget can order the 'true-blue' of two eggs, roasted rosemary potatoes and toast for $5. Other breakfast items include French toast and a breakfast burrito. Check it out.

Sub Rosa serves breakfast from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and dinner is 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

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