Monday, February 8, 2016

Tasty and Alder (T&A): Portland, OR

T&A is the Tits

Tasty and Alder (T&A) stretched itself out on the corner like a fully, splayed skeleton with windows nearly as large as its walls. This loft of bare bones hugged itself in raw, crisp minimalism and drew the eye to a ceiling of exposed duct work, before dropping down into the full view of an open kitchen, whose chronic clank of cast iron mimicked an “order-up” bell that melodically dinged with outgoing, brunch orders.

Radicchio salad: bacon lardons, manchengo, 6 minute eggs

Radicchio, aka Ricci, was like an obnoxious younger cousin that you couldn't help but have a soft spot for. Ricci came on strong and wasn’t easy to miss with his frigid frame splattered in violent purple over stark white. Sometimes you loved him, sometimes you hated him…and some days like today, you realized Ricci's underestimated ability to come forward as lovable front man.

I guess Ricci’s shining moment was heavily dependent on the symbiotic relationship with the other ingredients. These key players turned down Ricci’s brassy, bitterness and amped up his deeper, earthier self, while highlighting their own strengths. It was like the perfect jam session. Each had their own fine-tuned singularity; their own presence. But when this foursome came together, they became greater as a whole. They were The Beatles in a bowl. Please, welcome to the stage:

Bacon lardons: thick-necked and burly like a lumberjack, smelling of campfire. Dense, but exhibiting a complex tenderness that accepted Ricci’s bite.

Manchego: though this Spanish cheese wasn't as well known as his Italian cousin, Parmesan, once you met "the Man", he was a welcome guest at any table. Here, he showed up shaved and softly stacked like a fresh blanket of snow, but his brash brand of saltiness was noticeably ingrained beneath the clean composure . 

Six Minute Egg: Talk about six minutes of pleasure - yowy!! This educated egg’s precision and technique split seamlessly into a great white shock of savory protein and oozy yolk, which melded with the lardon drippings and Manchego to create the first notable sequel to Caesar’s reign in the dressing world.

Until T&A, I’d never seen such depth or potential in Ricci’s character, and instead of leaving his usual bad aftertaste, he only left me with afterglow.

Pan Fried Halibut Sandwich: served with fries

I hated to compare T&A’s sandwich to the likes of Chic-fil-a, but this halibut came coated in some cosmic batter that brought me back to that first recognizable moment, when a piece of protein I’d consumed a million times before was elevated to VIP status - all because of a simple, lightweight coat.

But forget about the likes of Chil-fil- a, or about any other coat you'd seen before! You thought, Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat, was impressive?!

Well check out, Halibut and the Technicolor Trench Coat! Because this little fishy was still quivering with freshness, all but naked - aside from the two pickle pasties peeking out from a potato bun, and a burlesque showing of batter that stayed swathed in a thin sheath before it gave way to the goods – buttery, lush, fresh fish that made me weak in the knees.

What can I say?
I like big halibuts, and I cannot lie.

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