Wednesday, January 5, 2011


I'd been curious about Genoa ever since their remodel and reopening. I remembered it as the setting for a phenomenal $150 meal a few years ago and wondered if it would still be at the same level now that they were offering a six-course dinner for $60 per person. The answer to that is hell yes. Genoa has joined the 21st century, while preserving their legendarily high standards in the kitchen and front of house.

I'm not going to detail every course (we had more than than six, and each had a lot of components) but what stood out to me about the food the most was the composition of each plate. A lot of the mid- to high-end restaurants in Portland these days are doing rustic, simple, old-world style meals. Which I love. But it's such a treat to have a plate appear in front of you with as much care as a love letter. David Anderson, Daniel Mondok and their crew do it up for real. Contrasting flavors and textures are calculatedly posed in the perfect place. Everything is beautiful and there for a reason. Everything works together. Lobster with risotto and herby sauces with little fronds of fresh greens and sunchoke chips perched on top. A medallion of foie gras perched on a tiny crispy bit of brioche (I kept thinking of a mattress balanced on a bottle of wine) with slivers of truffle and like five mustard seeds and a ribbon of glittery pepper honey. It was an emotional experience.

Another thing that impressed me was the service - everybody was super professional, perfectly attentive without pandering, and just paying really good attention. No attitude, no waiting for five minutes for everybody's entree to come out, no "actually, I'm not sure what's in that, but everyone really likes it." Spot on.

But overall what I loved the most was the honest, geeky passion that everybody had for what they were doing - the sommelier talking about a rare wine she found the way a record collector talks about an obscure 45, the chefs testing out new amazing concoctions on us (radicchio jam?! yum!), the servers letting a sly joke fly between rehearsed descriptions. It's all honest and all happening at a really high level that's rare for Portland. Hopefully I'll be in there again before another four years are up. I'm excited to see where Genoa and Accanto go from here.

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