Monday, March 10, 2014

Portland Dining Month: Red Star Tavern and Roast House

503 SW Alder Street
Happy Hour: 4 - 8 PM, daily

Red Star has been my go-to steakhouse for years. I can't comment on the quality of their steak. I don't eat steak. I don't even eat seafood...which makes dining at most steakhouses quite a challenge. At some steakhouse locations, being a vegetarian means making a meal out of asparagus. Or mashed potatoes. At Red Star Tavern and Roast House, that is far from the case. Even now that they've changed their menu, they still offer something delicious--something that makes me want to go back for more--that fits perfectly with my meat-free lifestyle.

I've reviewed Red Star's Happy Hour multiple times. They even made it on our Top Ten last summer. It's a great option if you're near Pioneer Square. They've got discounts on food and drinks available every single day from 4 to 8 PM. This trip, however, was not for Happy Hour. This time I was there for dinner with my co-bloggers, courtesy of Portland Bloggers. They partnered with Watershed Communications to give away twelve $60 gift certificates. Thanks to my co-blogger (who spotted the opportunity) and to probability (there were close to 200 entries), we won. There are three of us, though, so the sixty dollars didn't cover the total cost. It was worth it, though.

I'm sure you will hear about the others' opinions of Red Star--the food, drinks, service, and ambiance--soon. It was both of their first times. And they seemed awfully impressed. (Which is great, since I forced them to add Red Star to our Top Ten list. Now I just need to get them back there for Happy Hour.)

Portland Dining Month runs through the end of March offering three-course meals in restaurants across the city for just $29. In my opinion, it gives people a fantastic excuse to go out and try new places. Sure, I had already been to Red Star...but my co-bloggers hadn't. And last night's dinner at Park Kitchen was my first. There are over ninety restaurants participating AND the month has only just begun.

At Red Star, the three-course meal includes a salad, an entree, and dessert. For an additional $15, you can enjoy wine paired perfectly to accompany the meal. The menu suggests that these are three-ounce pours, but they seemed a lot heavier than that to me.

Knowing that my co-blogger would LOVE the Red Star signature cocktail, I ordered one for her to sip in addition to the wine pairings. With a sugared rim, black raspberry puree and vanilla vodka, it's a fairly sweet treat.

Before our first course arrived, our server delivered both a basket of bread and a small plate for each of us. For the meat eaters, it was grilled bread with chicken liver pate. Mine was the same base but with roasted beets and goat cheese. It was an unexpected treat and one that made the experience that much more enjoyable. (Those little things go a long way....)

Having had the simple greens salad before, I opted to go with the roasted beets. I love the shaved fennel that accompanies the simple greens salad, but my newfound love of beets PLUS the fact that it isn't normally listed on the menu made it an obvious choice for me. The citrus dressing was a perfect match and added a fresh quality to the roasted root vegetables. The sunflower seeds added flavor, as well, but did more for me by the way of texture and added crunch.

My choice of entrees were limited to just one, but it was one that I have had before (or, at least, a variation of it) many times. I don't know what they do to bring out the flavor in their roasted vegetables but I love every bite every time. In fact, I'm fairly certain that it was at Red Star that I first discovered just how enjoyable Brussels sprouts can be. The vegetables change by the season and the quinoa cake has transitioned a bit over time, too. I've always loved every bite. And the portion is just right.

For dessert, we had to choose between the Panna Cotta or house-made ice cream. The dessert menu at Red Star always has so many tempting options that it was probably for the best to be left with only two to choose from. I opted for the Panna Cotta. It was topped with a cookie and came surrounded by sweet citrus wedges and a thin syrup. The ice cream--a strawberry lemon ice cream--seemed to be a big hit as well.

Service is always exceptional at Red Star. It doesn't matter if you are there for a weekday craving or a special occasion, they make every dining experience feel more than remarkable. (And if it is a special occasion--and you're not afraid to tell them--there's usually some extra bubbly involved.)

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Exceeds
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Meets


Red Star Tavern & Roast House on Urbanspoon

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