In addition to moving on to the final stages of my book (after final edits comes proofing and I really wish that just meant letting some dough rise) I'm working at Hawthorne Books and that means I'm downtown a lot. I love it. I like riding the MAX and bookending my work days with commute reading, I like getting takeout from yummy places, I like walking through the Portland Art Museum courtyard every day, AND I now like food and drinks at Nel Centro after work. Well, I've only been once but I'll be back.
We grabbed a tall table at the bar, ordered drinks and then ordered a lamb burger and whatever entree the chef recommended. We said "entree" but Chef Hyman sent out so many dishes we had to move to a four top. It was crazy and it was delicious. My favorites:
The lamb burger ($12). Must have been about a half pound of moist, well seasoned meat on an aioli slathered housemade brioche bun topped with a whipped blend of housemade ricotta and feta, and a trio of thinly sliced sauteed red peppers. I think I've said it all right there. Oh and it came with my favorite type of french fry -- fresh cut, super thin, golden and generously salted and peppered with a housemade harissa and ketchup sauce.
Frisee and thinly sliced, poached lamb tongue salad ($13) with sauteeed golden chanterelles topped with a poached egg and dressed with olive oil and salsa verde.
The duck confit ($12) with braised red cabbage and apples.
As we were eating from six -- yes six -- full plates of food Chef Hyman came out and he and Tyler talked about the next tattoo he wants -- an old French charcuterie ad. It's a great image but I don't remember too much about it because I was infatuated with the lamb burger, the pork rillettes, the mussels in vermouth, the salt cod croquettes and more.
After dinner he took us on a tour of his kitchen which was immaculate despite being at the tail end of a brisk dinner service. In his walk-in there was house bresaola soaking in brine pre-air-curing, small portions of duck prosciutto hanging and drying in cheesecloth, and all sorts of gorgeous wild mushrooms. He opened a tub of gaeta olives for us to try and they were buttery delicious. And then he gave us two heirloom navel oranges above to take home. What a man.