One of the hottest restaurants in Portland serves up some phenomenal bird, but it isn’t the one you would expect. Le Pigeon [738 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214] is dark, intimate, and absolutely jam packed.
They open at 5pm, but if you hope to get in without a reservation you may want to queue up early. We got there about ten minutes to the hour and there were no seats left! However, the hostess told us a time to come back at, so we just played some pinball until then and everything worked out just fine. We ended up getting two bar seats and got to watch all the action, as the kitchen is in plain view.
The people working are tireless, they are an inspiration to behold. We started with a hunk of complimentary bread and slab of salted butter and ordered butter lettuce.
It was simple, but not without sublime fresh flavor. Next up was the salt cod potato gnocchi with cauliflower, bacon butter, trout roe, and grapefruit.
The gnocchi was out of control plush perfection, the rainbow of colors were so pleasing, and every bite had a different taste and texture. When it came to our main, we had to go with the namesake plate, and I had to ask. Where do they source their pigeon from? Not as I expected, the easy route from under the bridge down the street, but a farm across the country in South Carolina. What came out was a truly exquisite masterpiece. Surrounding the grilled dry-aged pigeon were so many different ingredients, each nibble revealing a surprise like the pop of a ripe sweet grape, the crunch of a toasted hazelnut, to a savory creamy butternut squash hummus.
The meat was very unexpected. This was my first time trying pigeon, so I was shocked at the almost steak-like feel of the meat, so tender and moist. We were commenting how it was difficult to get all of the meat off the bone with a fork and knife, but we felt a bit funny using our hands in an upscale restaurant. The chef overhearing us chimed in, that’s the way to do it! So we happily relinquished our utensils and feasted like piranhas. We had to skip dessert because we had donuts for lunch, but we were sweetly surprised with a complimentary duo of truffles regardless!
This is a no gratuity restaurant and there is no sales tax in Oregon. Prices are what they should be for excellent quality of food and service, but a meal at this top spot won’t break the bank. Spread your wings in Portland and experience the pigeon.