Friday, August 06, 2010

Dinner at Thistle



During Cochon on Tour's stop in PDX there was a bit of.....a scuffle. Now I know that there were allegedly certain "party favors" involved above & beyond just booze. Allegedly. C'mon! It's a big group of chefs at a strip club for crying out loud! What do you expect to happen?? Regardless, I was intrigued by chef Eric Bechard's "hyper-local" sensibility.

Any chef who is that passionate about the provenance of pork, well I just gotta check 'em out. Since we were staying nearby I told Kelly "we absolutely have to eat at Eric Bechard's restaurant!" We walked around the quaint & cute McMinnvile town center. Kelly grabbed some coffee, shopped for books & I just marveled at how adorable the main street was. I want to live there! I walked by Thistle & decided to take a peek. It was around 4 o'clock so I knew they would just be in the middle of prep. Walking in the door I was immediately greeted by a beautiful blonde woman with super cool glasses. I asked if reservations were recommended & she said "yes, we are pretty small as you can see so if you want a table a reservation is highly recommended." Gazing around the space showcased a clean, minimal restaurant that was in fact quite tiny. I glanced on the chalkboard menu but quickly looked away since I didn't want to ruin the dining experience later.

When Kelly & I returned for dinner I was practically drunk on the savory aromas emitting from the tiny open kitchen. I'd heard that Eric sources everything from only a 100 mile radius. With this in mind I was ready for a "local" fresh experience. We were instructed by our server to make our choices from the blackboard on the wall opposite the front door. It was the only menu in the house since the chef changes it daily. Very cool idea since it frees him up to make changes on a daily basis & instead of being chained to printed menus. The wine list was very very extensive & super exciting but one thing struck me. Now, I love love love French wine but I was in a restaurant that beat the local drum so I would have thought...no I EXPECTED that every single wine would be sourced from nearby vineyards. We are in the Willamette Valley for god sake! The holy grail of pinot noir, exciting riesling, gruner, pinot gris etc! Regardless, I brushed it aside & readied myself for what I was hoping would be an awesome meal. We ordered a bottle of Arterberry Maresh Pinot Noir 2007 Dundee Hills. It was so sensual, earthy, musky & grabbed me by the heart. I was falling in love with a bottle of wine.

My first course arrived & a smile rippled across my face.




Rabbit rillettes sealed with duck fat served alongside crusty house made bread, pickled onions & two housemade mustards. Oh damn. It was superbly rich & freaking delicious in every way. I think I might have stuck my tongue down in the jar & licked up the last few smears of fat laden rabbit. Mmmmm.



My main was a local hangar steak with purple potato, baby carrots & bone marrow butter. Yes, that's right...bone..marrow..butter. I'm not a filet guy at all. Beef tenderloin to me is so boring & almost mushy in texture with practically no flavor. I want to taste beef so that's why I always go for a more flavorful cut like hangar. It was cooked perfectly & the bone marrow butter was so rich & unctuous. At one point I had to slow myself down because I was gorging on this insanely delicious plate.

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