April 6, 2007

Meriwether's (2601 NW Vaughn St.)

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I read this article today in Willamette Week and so when Kristin mentioned that she wanted to go to Meriwether's for dinner, I was intrigued. I had never eaten at a newly burned (not down) restaurant. "Do you have a reservation?" The host looked a little afraid of our answer. No, we told him. "Okay, okay, let's see - we might be able to put you at the bar, but there is a two hour wait for the patio. It wouldn't normally be this way, but we had a fire the other night and the dining room is completely closed, and we already had, like, a hundred existing reservations." We said the bar would be fine and took a seat.

The bartender was a sprightly young woman, with grapefruit-pink cheeks and a bright smile. She seemed genuinely happy to be there. I asked her if she could suggest some kind of a special non-alcoholic drink. She said in a slightly conspiratorial voice, "How about a basil lemonade?" Wow. I wasn't sure if that would be good or not, but it did sound exotic. Okay. I bought it. Then we ordered asparagus on buttery brioche with hollandaise sauce for an appetizer. Butter + asparagus + hollandaise + bread = heaven.

I ordered the goat cheese ravioli with stinging nettle butter. I really wanted to taste the stinging nettles. Kristin ordered a burger with bleu cheese. In the meantime, our bartender went to work on our basil lemonades. She plucked a few leaves off of a basil stem, added some ice and what I think was sugar water, then some fresh squeezed lemon juice. She pummeled the basil into the ice, shook it and then gave it a little stir. It was a deep lemonade. Solid complementary flavor, something to save to drink with dinner.

We waited about 45 minutes for our dinner, which was a little too long. And when I got mine, the bartender told me to enjoy my chicken liver ravioli, which was not what I ordered. However, at this point, I didn't want to wait another 45 minutes to get stinging nettles. The chicken liver ravioli was sauced in some type of basalmic buttery concoction and buttery basalmic concoctions are always okay with me. It was rich and light and perfect. And liver? No, I wouldn't have ordered liver on purpose, but it was fortuitously lovely. It was a satisfying meal.

We finished up and the bartender gave us our check. "This has been my favorite first day," she said as she took our cards. Her hair was starting to fall out of the little buns she had twisted at the back of her neck and she was a bit flustered, but smiling all the same. Since it was her first day, I can forgive the wrong ravioli. And, the basil lemonades were her treat. Who can be mad at that?

Meriwether's on Urbanspoon


Chelsea said...

Makes my mouth water.. would love to try this place.

Ellen said...

Hi Elizabeth! LOVE your blog! So glad you found mine. So fun to read about all the fantastic PDX restaurants! Someday we will move back there and I will refer to your blog for great places to eat! Right now I want a gelato from "Mio Gelato" right there near Powells. Yum! Keep in touch. I'll be reading!

Anonymous said...

Went to Meriwether's last night for my friend's rehearsal dinner. Could NOT believe how terrible the service was considering the prices. The patio was beautiful, but we were crammed so tightly we couldnt get in our out without tripping over each other or other diners. Salads were small and wilted by the time they arrived, bread came a good ten minutes after the salads, and many of our steaks were overcooked (I looked at the menu- at $35 a pop you'd think they'd get a steak right.) Twenty- six of us and only one trained waitress (she said she was a manager, what?!) with a trainee server in tow managing our table. The beautiful location did not make up for a very disappointing dining expereience. I really felt like they were all about the $$, not about the product, and went away feeling badly for my friend who paid for the table.

Anonymous said...

OMG- I went there last night for a large reservation and had the same experience. Sat inside (might be nice by the fireplace in the winter) and spent the night reminding the one waitress handling our table what it is we ordered. Three steaks had to be sent back and my father who specifically said he was allergic to strawberries - sure enough got cheesecake WITH the berries. It was replaced by plain, but what do you know- saw my waitress eating it in the service area, hmm. There were uniformed staff everywhere, but just one waitress for our table and what seemed like five or six others. What else were the other white shirters for? Seems like a good menu, just not good management.

Anonymous said...

Surprised to hear comments about bad service. I have dined at Meriwethers 5-6 times and the service has always been outstanding, the food is amazing!