Everybody knows Portobello by now, right? If you’re vegan and even visited Portland if but for a night, you’ve been there. I’ve written about them a handful of times because each time I go I am bowled over by their inventive use of fresh, local ingredients. And Chef Aaron’s pasta skills. That man can work the dough.
This night was a little different. It was cocktail night! Portland’s very own Iron Bartender Lauren Fitzgerald created five cocktails for us. Five. For Lauren, no big whoop, sure. This is what she does. She is an artist, serving up flavor combinations that make even a germaphobe like myself want to share. (I have convinced myself that the alcohol kills the germs!)
We were early enough to score a table and were greeted with the first cocktail: Bienvenidos! Piscologia Pisco, Peychaud’s Bitters, Clear Creek Pear Brandy, and Palo Negro Blanc de Blancs. Just sweet enough, it was the perfect welcome. And on an empty stomach this thing packed quite a punch.
The cocktail: Leo Rising. Novo Fogo Silver Cachaça, Navarro Chardonnay Verjus, ginger, and mint. I think this was my favorite. They’ve had a similar cocktail on the menu before and Tom’s gotten it, so I’ve had a taste. Crisp and summery—if you ever make a pitcher of these let me know and I’ll be right over.
The plate: This was a little salad of strawberry, mushroom, and cashew cream on endive. I was so hungry I don’t even remember tasting it. I bet it was good. Obviously fresh, this is a perfect example of how Portobello picks its produce and makes it do the work.
The cocktail: Corsair. 123 Organic Tequila Blanco, Luxardo Maraschino, Grand Marnier, lemon, lime & orange juices, lemon flake salt. Also a super easy, summery cocktail. No surprises; you can tell from the ingredient list exactly how it tasted.
The plate: My favorite dish of the night! These are super neat chilled avocado ravioli with pico de gallo. Aaron said he filled the ravioli and cooked it very quickly, chilling it before it cooked through to the avocado. Such a delicate taste, and between the creamy interior and the crunchy pico (of course bridged with Portobello pasta), these tiny ravioli were an experience.
The cocktail: Hibisco Punch. Piscologia Pisco, Pineapple Gromme Syrup, hibiscus, lime. This one was surprisingly strong, drier than I expected.
The plate: A gluten-free empenada filled with mushroom, pineapple, red pepper, and friends. Drizzled with cashew cream. Jess and Tom got some before they were drizzled—it would have been a shame if they missed out on this for this little bit o’ nut. The interior wasn’t too mushy, rather light and fresh. It was my first empenada, and I don’t know that I would trust anyone else enough to try theirs.
The cocktail: The unnamed drink (I think the winner was the Nuevo Fashioned). Novo Fogo Gold Cachaça, orange marmalade, rooibos tea, Xocolatl Mole Bitters. For dessert, I expected a coffee-based cocktail. I was wrong. Ach wie. I wouldn’t drink this one with food. It’s more of a standalone drink, just a lot going on in there.
The wrapper: Chocolate zucchini cupcake! The consistency wasn’t creepy like I expected it to be. It was a cupcake, just a rounder, almost earthy flavor. You could tell there was something in there, and would probably guess carrot or zucchini. I dug it. In fact, as Aaron walked around with a few extras I had Tom snag me one. I knew I kept that kid around for a reason.
So a super pleasant evening…and for $25 an amazingly inexpensive one. I’m pretty sure the liquor manufacturers sponsored this event—there’s no way they could afford to charge so little for this much food and drink. Without a doubt, if they do this again, jump on the tickets (watch for it on their Facebook page) and I’ll see you there.