Ready for a meal you won't forget soon? Eat at Verdigris
Some meals are just more memorable than others.
That's how I feel about the dinner my husband Mark, son Cole and I shared recently at Verdigris Restaurant on northeast Fremont in Portland.
Verdigris is a small, elegant, contemporary French-inspired restaurant, owned by Chef Johnny Nunn and his wife Kristina. We were invited to attend a Burgers & Beer Fete to sample Chef Nunn's ribeye steak burger, ground in-house and cooked to perfection in a cast iron skillet. He serves the burger with grilled sweet onions, special sauce and a pickle, and you could add on your choice of Gruyere, bleu or cheddar cheese, house-made bacon, a fried egg and foie grass butter. He was pairing the burgers with a pint of Royale Brewing beer.
If Chef Nunn's name sounds familiar, it should. He opened restaurant five-0-three in West Linn when he moved to Portland in 2007. He has worked at premiere restaurants around the country including San Francisco's Farallon and Town Hall, New York City's Eleven Madison Park and Washington D.C.'s Café Atlantico, then traveled to Madrid, Spain to work at Memento. After his stint at five-0-three he went on to make significant contributions as executive chef at Portland restaurant institutions RingSide Hospitality Group and Brasserie Montmarte before opening Verdigris in 2015. Nunn feels Verdigris is the expression of his dedication to locally sourced and globally-minded food and dining experiences he has been developing throughout his career.
Back to those burgers: They were finger licking good! I had mine the original way — no cheese added, with the accoutrements Chef intended. Mark added Gruyere and Cole added bacon and white cheddar. Being his mother's son, Cole thought we ought to also sample something from the menu that represented what the Chef most liked to create. He asked our server what was the most popular dish on the menu. Her reply: "The menu changes daily so that is hard to say." In the end he left it up to Chef to select something for us.
The menu offers a variety of modern and traditional dishes, all seasonally-based. First course choices on any given day could include celery root and fennel soup, mixed greens with Amish bleu cheese, pomegranate, pickled shallots and Banyuls (a vinegar more mellow than a typical red wine vinegar) vinaigrette and a butter lettuce salad with buttermilk blue cheese dressing, walnuts, radishes and croutons.
The entrée selections that evening included Beef Bourguignon, and that is what Chef Nunn selected for us. The three of us shared a bowl and it was heavenly! It was made with house bacon and came on a bed of garlic smashed potatoes. We marveled at the flavor and it was all we could do to keep from licking the bowls. We were still talking about the dish the next day, and memories of the flavor sensations still linger, weeks later.
Verdigris also offers brunch each day from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. so we will have to go back to sample those dishes.
They offer a wide range beverages including an impressive domestic and European wine list, beers and cocktails.
The Royale Brewing beers we sampled were refreshing. As a wine enthusiast it had been a while since I'd had a beer. I thoroughly enjoyed the naturally fermented Royale pilsner. Their beers are offered at Verdigris but you can also find them at their Garrison Taproom, located at 8773 N. Lombard in St. Johns.
I have had a handful of dining experiences that stand out in my mind, like the first time I ate at the now-closed Genoa, dining with Anthony Bourdain at The Heathman and eating at The Joel Palmer House in Dayton. Our dinner at Verdigris was right up there with those memorable events. The food was outstanding, the service top-notch and the environment cozy and comfortable. When you are ready for a stellar dining experience head to Verdigris. The menu changes daily and they offer a three-course meal for $35. The restaurant is located at 1315 N.E. Fremont in Portland. Dinner is served from 5 to close Tuesday through Sunday. Learn more online at verdigrisrestaurant.com.
Learn more about Royale Brewing online at https://royalebrewing.com/
Thinking you might be inspired to try a little French cooking at home, I found this simpler recipe for the French classic Coq au Vin. It is usually made with red wine, but this Cheater's version sounds delicious.
Bon Appetit! Make eating an adventure!
Cheater's White Wine Coq au Vin
Makes 4 to 6 servings
3 pounds chicken (8 pieces total – thighs, breast and drumsticks)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 strips bacon, diced *
1 large sweet onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pint cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 cups dry white wine
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
½ cup heavy cream *
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the chicken to the pan and cook until it is well browned, about 4 minutes per side.
Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Add the bacon to the pan and cook until the fat begins to render, about 3 minutes.
Add the onion and sauté until it becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms, and sauté until the mushrooms are tender, 5 to 6 minutes.
Add the browned chicken back to the pan. Pour the wine into the pan, stir in the mustard and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat.
Cover the pot and simmer until the chicken is almost fully cooked, 15 to 20 minutes. Uncover the pot and add the cream. Simmer until the sauce thickens and the chicken is fully cooked, 8 to 10 minutes.
Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.
Recipe courtesy of PureWow.com.