By Charlotte Wallace
For the month of March, over 100 of Portland’s top restaurants decide to do something kind for us all: offer a three-course meal for $33. I know $33 is still a significant sum for a meal out, but you are splurging on a culinary experience that would otherwise be completely out of the question. On average, a three-course meal for $33 at one of Portland’s top restaurants is over a 50 percent discount. Dining month is an irresistible opportunity for a night out with friends or even a fancy date you would otherwise avoid.
All the dining month menus are designed to give guests a flavor, figuratively and literally, of what the kitchen does best. Each restaurant presents a few choices for an appetizer, entrée and dessert. Drinks are not covered, but, nevertheless, $33 is an amazing price for a three course seasonal dinner at an élite Portland restaurant. Price aside, very limited options for each course takes out the stress of decision-making with overwhelming menus. You can rest assured knowing you are tasting what the restaurant wants to show off to you this dining month. No need to ask the waiter what the chef does best. All the restaurants are committed to providing a vegetarian option and most are accommodating about gluten free and vegan options as well. At Travel Portland’s webpage you can find a complete list of the participating restaurants, make reservations and view their Dining Month menus.
With only half of March left, picking which Dining Month restaurants out of the plethora participating are the most deserving of your meal out can be overwhelming. I recommend reading through the menus posted online and picking based on what you have yet to try and would not have the opportunity try when March ends. For example, stay away from the Chart House because it is a chain restaurant and will only serve you bland fair like an obscenely overpriced burger and fries. Dining Month is about finding a riveting new culinary experience. I would also recommend staying away from Bamboo and Blossoming Lotus. You can have a meal there for around $33 or less anytime of the year. My top two choices are Andina and St. Jack. Andina offers incredibly creative Peruvian inspired cuisine. I am dying to try their Dining Month menu and, specifically, the quinoa risotto with truffle oil, local mushrooms and vegetables and Grana Padano cheese. Completely different from Andina but no less sensational, St. Jack creates classic French dishes with a robust and updated Portland influence. Any dish will be complex, but it will deliver perfect flavor in every bite. I am very excited about the Dining Month Lyonnaise onion tarte and the exquisite flavors the poached egg and chevre on top will bring. The aforementioned restaurants are offering an excellent sample of their usual cuisine for the three Dining Month courses, will not disappoint in taste or experience and are offering dishes that are flavorful, seasonal and unique to them.