Portland Dining Month: Departure {Sponsored}

This post is about Departure, a local Portland fine dining establishment and is sponsored by Downtown Portland. Although I was compensated for sharing this post, the pictures and opinions are still my own.

Finishing up March strong, I’d like to take a moment out of turn and share my most recent evening out to enjoy Portland Dining Month, a month in which nearly 100 Portland restaurants offer a prix fixe three course meal with one or more combinations of entrees. Located in inner southwest Portland near Pioneer Square at the top of the Nines Hotel, Departure specializes in Pan Asian cuisine created by inventive head chef, Gregory Gourdet. Many also know Departure for its odd, futuristic decor, with walls lined with mirrors, black lights,  and deep colors. My favorite feature of the restaurant is its view of the West Hills and downtown Portland, but the food follows a close second!

I made my reservations through Open Table for Friday night, about 45 minutes before sunset with the hope of catching a table within eyeshot of the window (obviously also hoping the monsoon would clear itself by then too). Reservations were a great call, as we found out upon arrival; those arriving in front of us without reservations were told it would be a 1.5 hour wait for their dining to commence, and we strolled in without issue. I was a tad disappointed to find that we had been nestled away into a small nook of the restaurant (this becomes important later) where we were attentively waited on by multiple well-groomed waitstaff throughout the meal.

Course One

We (Ktams and I) started off with the first course, him with the kale salad, and my salad consisting of some tasty prawns and harrissa. Kevin’s salad was really nicely blended and the kale was topped with a delicious sesame vinaigrette that I hope to replicate at home. My salad with the prawns was tangy and just about luke-warm, the fried chickpeas lent a nice crunch! I was a little disappointed t hat my salad wasn’t spicier, but I also acknowledge that I have a problem, and the only thing I would have enjoyed would have been the opportunity to spice it up a little more. Our table, interestingly enough, held neither salt nor pepper! This sort of says a lot about Departure and its chef. He has enough confidence in his (and his staff’s) abilities to provide you a meal that he doesn’t even think you’ll NEED to change the seasoning.

Marinated Prawns
Apple & Kale Salad

Course Two

We could not get different mains because, well, we both love love LOVE a good grilled beef coulette! And this dish is what meat dreams are made of. It was absolutely splendid in both plating and flavor. The only complaint was the wrestling match I had with my broccoli! Another fun quark of Departure: no fork and knife for you!! While I find myself pretty acceptable with chopsticks, I could not get an enormous piece of broccoli to break up! After a failed attempt of pulling it apart with my chopsticks and catching a waiter’s eye, I was told to “man up” by Ktams and just ripped it apart with my fingers…just in time for the waiter I had been trying to catch to come over and see my handy work (ha). Oh, that was a  bit embarrassing but delicious, and less embarrassing than if I had attempted to eat and entire head of broccoli in one bite!

Beef coulette with toasted broccoli, Korean chili and fermented black bean jus

Course Three

While we did have a cheat course (we ordered a plate of Shu Mai, which took a long time to get to the table but hit the spot nicely), Dessert came with much silent excitement as icebox cake is growing into one of my favorite desserts since having it at a dinner at Imperial a few months back. The Pineapple icebox cake (topped with spiced caramel and candied almonds) was lovely, and I imagined it with some flakes of deep, dark (bitter perhaps?) chocolate shavings. Ktam’s dessert, a cardamom pot de creme with a sweet cherry preserves, was also very sweet. This did not stop us from cleaning the plates!

Pineapple icebox cake with banana ice cream, candied almond and spiced caramel
Cardamom chocolate pot de crème with sweet cherry preserve and ginger snap

Dinner at Departure

Overall, the food was lovely. The only damper on the night (besides the rain) was that the tables really were too close together in the section we were in. We had some girls seated next to us after the first course, and they made most of the rest of the meal pretty insufferable (we tried to turn it into a joke). I sincerely hope that someone decides to space the tables out a little more so that all guests can enjoy their meals to their full extent. It’s also very likely that you will see a dining etiquette post from me shortly.

Have you ever had a meal interrupted or even ruined by something other than food?

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