Review: Carlyle

NOTE: CARLYLE HAS NOW CLOSED (2/14/2010)

(note: for a bit of background, you may wish to read the previous post)

Carlyle is set where you’d least expect it; smacked down in the middle of the warehouse district under the shadow of the Fremont Bridge. But that is part of its charm; such an unexpected location. The first time I was trying to find it, I kept turning around before I got there, thinking I must have driven too far. Keep going down Thurman, though, and eventually you’ll see the sign on the side of a nice rustic-looking building. On warm summer evenings, a few tables are set out on the sidewalk. Since the district pretty much shuts down at night, this can be a quiet outdoor place to take a break from the rat race. As twilight approaches, long shadows fall across the buildings, the bridge takes on the colors of the sunset, and before you know it, you’ve passed an entire evening.

The inside is smaller than you would expect. There are about eight tables in the long, skinny bar, and another seven or so in the main dining room. If needed a second room can be opened, with about eight more tables. Finally, there is the much vaunted private patio available for a $150 surcharge; a very nice space, though a bit costly. The lighting is perfect, easy to read the menu by, yet flattering to everyone in the room. At times, the noise level can get high, especially if you are in the bar and the dining room is full. The walls are a lovely, understated dark wood with crisp white tablecloths; the contrast works very well. A big mirrored wall on one side of the bar makes the space feel larger than it is. I can see why some feel this is one of the most romantic restaurants in Portland.
There is a long and interesting cocktail menu, average price about $9.00. I’ve only tried a few of the drinks, but thought they needed help, suffering from too many little things floating in them that ended up stuck to teeth and tongue. Infusions would work better, but this is just my personal preference. The wine list has some interesting choices; someone here is passionate about wine. Pricing is very reasonable.

During my visits, the service has been excellent; though sometimes over attentive when things are slow, and under attentive as the restaurant gets busy. The wine sommelier and maitre d’ are excellent, though on one visit our waiter was very green: he did not know the wine list, he forgot dishes, and he brought the wrong dessert.

The sourdough bread that comes with every meal is very good. Tastes just out of the oven, but, as it turns out, it’s from La Brea Bakery in LA, and is finished here. Even better, the basket is kept full, and accompanied by little round balls of good soft salted butter.

The menu is made up of three sections: ‘Small Tastes’, ‘First Plates’, and ‘Principal Dishes’. At this point I’ve had almost everything offered, but for the sake of brevity will only comment on some of them.

Small Tastes

The foie gras ‘two ways’ starts the way everything at Carlyle does: beautifully presented. It is house-cured ‘au torchon’, with brioche or pineapple chutney, and seared with brioche and gooseberries. You get two good-sized pieces of foie that look excellent. One displays nice sear marks, both pieces are soft and earthy. They are separated from each other by a small bit of frisée. One comes with wonderful pineapple chutney that pairs well, cutting the fat of the foie gras. Unfortunately, there is a bit of a problem, noticeable from the first bite. The foie has not been de-veined properly, and is a bit stringy. You want a liver with few veins because if they’re not removed adequately they can mar the smooth texture of the finished dish. Try to cut one in half, and you have to fight the strings. Based on taste, it was an excellent way to start the menu, but those little veins made me uninterested in ordering again ($16.00).

Next we have crispy medallion ‘Ris De Veau’; sweetbreads with olive oil, crushed potatoes, bacon and mushrooms, and parsley coulis. These are good – perfectly seared, creamy textured, and full of wonderful flavor; no complaints at all. Once again, the presentation is lovely ($12.00). My second visit, I had Szechuan peppercorn seared Japanese tuna with wasabi aioli and caviar, mango-coconut salad, and tobiko (a crunchy flying fish roe). The presentation was just gorgeous; a beautiful array of medium thin slices of rare tuna in a long line across the plate. Unfortunately the peppercorns made it taste gritty, like unwashed lettuce. When paired with the tuna, the grittiness ruined the texture. The wasabi aioli tasted strongly of mayonnaise and completely overpowered the buttery little tuna. Nice presentation, bad execution ($12.00).

When they say ‘ravioli of milk-fed veal’, they mean that in a singular way. It arrives in a beautiful white bowl; a single, undercooked ravioli sitting in a pool of sauce. If there was any taste to the veal (which, granted, there may not have been, veal not being known to pack a punch), it was obliterated by the sauce, which seemed overly reduced but extremely rich by the addition of foie-melted leeks, rapini and the saltiness of the grana Padano cheese. It reminded me of a really good boeuf bourgeon, but the ravioli was superfluous and tasteless. The sauce was too good to be wasted on one meek ravioli ($13.00). On my next visit, I tried the calamari. The squid was properly cooked, though the pieces were oddly small. The sauces were dead wrong. One based on the French sauce gribiche of mayonnaise, minced herbs and chopped pickles, reminded me of nothing so much as the pickle relish you get at the ballpark – I flashed back to Dodger Stadium. The ingredients were out of proportion, leaving it sweetish, and doing nothing to complement the calamari. The second sauce was just wrong, a vinegary, thin, star anise Thai barbecue; I would have liked the wasabi aioli here ($12.00).

Moving on. I haven’t had clam chowder in ages, but Carlyle does a good job. It’s a New England style with lots of big chunks of clams, and carrots, in a cream base. Bacon gives it lots of depth; it’s an excellent version (cup $4.50, bowl $6.50).

One night I thought a duck confit salad would be good. You get a mix of arugula, frisée and mizuna greens with small slivers of Asian pear, Roquefort and sherry shallot vinaigrette. Perched high on top, looking somewhat incongruous is a ‘crisp duck confit’. To me, the duck was dry and unsalted, completely lacking flavor. This made little sense; by definition, duck confit is made by packing the bird in fat and salt, so it wasn’t a confit, at least not in the classic sense. Once I pared the meat off the bone, which was easy, and mixed it in with the lettuce, it was… okay. Nothing special. It did not sing. The salad underneath was pretty darn good. ($14.00). But it was no way as off-key as…

The butter lettuce. It’s described as “Bittersweet Farms butter lettuce with creamy herb vinaigrette ‘Pierre Dorre’, Sharlynne melon ‘Parisienne’ and crunchy prosciutto ham”. The salad was worse. I would say the inspiration is a slice of cool melon with prosciutto, the soft sweetness of the melon offset by the salty chewiness of the ham. This is not that dish. This dish did not harmonize in any way: the lettuce was very hard to disengage from itself; the hard bits of bacon sat there, the melon balls were little eyes looking the other way, just an awful combination ($9.50). The Caesar was lacking, as well. While as beautiful as a Caesar could ever be, with perfect green hearts of romaine arranged like little boats on the plate, a large amount of lemon had been squeezed over the top, drowning out any other flavors. Seriously, it’s all you could taste. On top was a good amount of micro-planed Grana Padano. I love my micro-plane, but have found that using it on excellent Parmesan is a bad idea; you grate away its complexity and granular quality. Caesar should be Lucullan. This was Atkins. ($9.50)

Equally flawed was the beet salad ‘two ways’. It is described as red, Chiogga (an heirloom variety), and gold beets, roasted and raw with curry créme fraâche and savory praline. Once again it arrives in an incredible presentation, a TINY pile of thinly sliced beets, one side cooked, and one side raw. They didn’t have as much sweetness as others I’ve had around town, and I might have liked it more if I hadn’t have had one of the best beet salads of my life the night before, at Park Kitchen. The streak of curry créme fraâche running down the plate was interesting, though for me it overpowered the other ingredients a bit. The savory praline, but a faint scattering, looked like a dusting of nuts. It was all very pretty to look at, but not particularly good ($8.50)

Let’s jump to the “Principal Dishes”
We’ll start with pan-roasted “rib eye” of milk-fed veal, described as “spring pea and morel risotto, brioche, vegetable mirepoix and sauce Veloute.” Good god, there was nothing good about this dish. The risotto was undercooked with crunchy bits – 5 more minutes would have done wonders. The peas were mealy. The fairly large piece of meat (compared to other dishes) was tough, overcooked, and dry. The meat was rolled into the now-ubiquitous circle, a thick brioche perched on top which soaked up most of the sauce. Unfortunately the bread itself was so thick, there wasn?t enough sauce to infuse much flavor. Just a disaster! I don’t have veal all that often, and if I’m going to, it had better be damn good. After eating this I wanted to adopt a cow in penance ($28.00).

Another in my party ordered the hanger steak; “Painted Hills with sautéed garlic spinach, whipped Yukon Gold potatoes, melted onions and duck pate-Roquefort butter”. Sounds amazingly good, but this orchestra played out of tune. First of all, the quantity of meat was less than you would expect for $32.00. Second, the meat was tough and chewy. One level down was a small pile of overcooked, oversalted mushy greens. Finally the whole thing sat in a bed of terribly oversalted mashed potatoes; some of the worst I have ever experienced – they were virtually inedible. Better was the pork tenderloin of “grilled Carlton Farms pork, fig and cherry gastrique, mascarpone-blue cheese polenta blanc, and Chinese 5 spice candied hazelnuts.” This dish was fine, beautifully presented with lots of tiny figs and whatnot scattered about. The sauce, a bit too sweet for my taste, was just okay ($25.00).

Fish tends to be the best choice. On one visit, a special of black striped sea bass was good, if a very small portion, and I liked the pork belly it came with. The flavors worked very well together ($27.00). Carlyle is open for lunch, and one of the standards is grilled halibut. One week it was paired with Dungeness crab-herbed nage (broth), peas, corn, and gathered field greens with goat cheese vinaigrette. It was one of the best halibut preparations I’ve had in ages. The grill not only imparted a lovely pattern, but a wonderful smoky taste. It was moist and perfectly cooked. Large chunks of crab provided a foundation and a terrific counterpoint to the halibut. It came with a small side salad with goat cheese vinaigrette, though I could hardly taste the dressing. Overall though, an absolute hit ($15.00).

Desserts: (Pasty chef is Steven Smith)
Rainier cherry tart with bing cherry bourbon ice cream. Terrific! An absolutely perfect crust cradling brightly flavored cherries. Wow. The ice cream on top was decent too. I’d have this every time ($8.50). Oregon berry trifle – sherry pastry cream, whipped cream cake and toasted almonds. Too much cream, the custard was a bit grainy; a bit too much alcohol in the cake overpowered the more subtle flavors. The berries were amazing; best I’ve had all year, but still, not my favorite dessert ($8.50). The pastry cream in the cannoli was gritty, leaving an unpleasant finish on the palate ($8.50); the apricot tart pastry was nice and caramelized, the fruit was sweet and tart. The basil ice cream, however, wasn’t the best execution, neither sweet nor herby. I had a wonderful version of the same thing tonight here in BC, so I know it is possible to pull off ($8.50). The best of the bunch was the guava semifreddo. It had the tang of guava, and a nice creaminess ($8.50)

The first time I went to Carlyle, the women I was with were laughing at the preponderance of round food. “Can you imagine how many ring molds they have back there?” While everything is beautiful, I am a bit put off when a dish comes as a round ring, piled impossibly high with other ingredients, all of which tremble with the first touch of a fork, and then scatter wildly across the plate. This is presentation geared to impress, and I caught myself wondering if they were going to these great lengths to distract me from the food. I sent Nancy Rommelmann and a couple of friends to see what they thought. After her meal, she said, “As to the presentation: I had to stop myself from laughing when three dishes were put on the table and all were round and stacked. I don’t understand this at all; this is like saying that every painting should be blue, or every song should have a guitar solo; that every short story should take place in an apartment building. We live in a city where we get excellent produce, game, fish, and cheese: why are they all dressed in the same clothing? I don’t trust this sort of methodology. It’s not a food philosophy; it’s relying on a trend (and/or perhaps making it easier for the chef), and a trend that is at least 15 years old. I don’t get it.” I couldn’t agree more.

I’m not saying you should not eat at Carlyle. The interior is wonderfully comfortable and clubby, the unexpected location makes it feel like a special find. The service is, for the most part, impeccable. As I’ve noted above, the food can be hit and miss, but if you stick with the fish dishes, I think you’ll be happy. Go here on a special date with someone you want to impress. Stare deeply into her eyes, and if you get a dish that’s a clunker, she will be so distracted by the environment, presentation, and your dark penetrating gaze, she won’t be likely to notice. Even better, go here for lunch, which seems to have a higher percentage of winning dishes.

At the end of the meal, you get a selection of small cookies with the check. Two people with a mid-range bottle of wine will spend about $160-$200 plus tip.

Your thoughts are welcome

  1. Angelhair says

    I agree with some of your opinions, but not all of them. I had the same problem with the foie, and agree with you on the beet salad.

    But I ate off the bar menu recently and really loved a lot of what was served. I don’t believe that some of these items are available on the regular menu, so I’d like to point them out: They do a pate sampler that is intersting and rich and tasty, perfect for sharing. Three pates served in ramekins each with its own little cap of deliciousness. I also liked a new dish called chip and dip…house made waffle fries dusted with truffles and served with a three cheese gratin. Another standout is a lobster and crab risotto…just fantastic. Perfect creamy texture, studded with big lumps of tender crab and lobster.

    I’ve had more cocktails than I can count there, and all, save, one were excellent. It was some kind of gimlet made with a lychee syrup (cloyingly sweet). The waiter must have seen me offer it to my husband, and brought me a new one with out even asking. He made a comment about there being a new bartender.

    I have been there with more than a dozen people, with a party of six and also just the two of us, and service has never faltered no matter how crowded the place gets.

  2. Chinaski says

    With all the build up to this review I have to wonder if you dont have another agenda. Isnt this the restaurant where your friend Porkcop used to pretend he worked when commenting on the other restaurant websites like Shameless Restaurants until he was very publicly busted by the owner?

  3. extramsg says

    I really doubt FD has a secret agenda here. He’s just over-reacted, I think, in giving 2 stars. I think if you had an index by stars you’d see that’s unfair. Your server is too f’n slow for me to check much, but that’s the same thing you gave Ciao Vito. You gave Nostrana 3 stars and Alberta 3 1/2. They have the same level of problems you describe with Carlyle.

    btw, I had the tuna dish the other day and don’t really understand your gripes. I don’t understand complaining about the peppercorns on the outside of seared tuna, too, since this has become a VERY standard dish — to have a grainy flavoring seared on theoutside. Also, since the sauce is served on the side, I don’t understand complaining about it being too strong. Just use less of it. Better too strong and putting less on than too weak and not being able to put enough on.

  4. Chinaski says

    Oh I’m sure you’re probably right. Just seems like an odd review that is unlike most of his others. This one , and its lead up, has a strong mocking tone. Lots of “snorts of derision”, the women he went with were “laughing”, Nancy had to “stop herself from laughing”. The summary paragraph is very condescending – damninng w/ faint priase. I know there is some bad blood there to begin with, so it seemed odd.

  5. Carlo says

    I have to say that I also sense a different tone to this review than we usually get from FD. I can’t figure out why, but for some reason he does seem unusually harsh toward Carlyle.

    For what it’s worth, we visited Carlyle a week or so ago for the first time ever and had a meal that was pretty near flawless. One of us was a visitor from New York, a real foodie, who came away mightily impressed. The other two of us live here and walked out thinking that we’d finally discovered what was clearly Portland’s best restaurant.

    We did, however, have a laugh about one thing on Carlyle’s menu: The variety of coffees offered after dinner. The menu listed four or five different kinds, which seemed over the top. None of us had ever seen that anywhere else. Other than that, though, everything was spot on: the room, the service, the wine list, the cocktails, the food, the desserts. Two stars seems pretty miserly, FD.

  6. Food Dude says

    I stand by the review.

    I have no secret agenda; I wanted to like Carlyle. It would have been very easy for me to go three times and write my review, but instead I went back over and over looking for good things. As far as other reviews, MSG may be right. Now that he mentions it, I probably was too kind and should lower it to 1.5 stars, especially considering the cost. Commpared to Nostrana and ASBOG, it is far far behind. I’ll give that some thought.

    As for the laughing, well, it was pretty funny, and we really did laugh. What can I say. I think most chefs that stripped away all the glitter and gold would laugh.

    For the record, I don’t know Pork Cop, he’s not my friend, I don’t have any idea where he has ever work in Portland.

    • barbara says

      You obviously need to go to the restaurant again and ask who the chef is for the evening before you eat OR get your taste buds checked. I have been to Carlyle 5 or 6 times and have yet to taste any item that deserves the review that you wrote. This review certainly makes me think twice before I dine at a restaurant you actually favor!

      • glainie says

        Barbara,
        I don’t think it’s fair to fault FD after the fact for anything he wrote over three years ago, although I do feel older reviews should either be updated, archived, or removed after a reasonable period. I agree with your praise for Carlyle, but I have no point of reference before this year.

        • Food Dude says

          It’s a difficult thing to balance old and new reviews. Whenever I update an old review, I get nasty letters saying I’m wasting people’s time. If I review new places, I get comments like the one above. I do my best to mix them up, but no one will be happy all the time.

  7. Kim Nyland says

    ” Even better, the basket is kept full, and accompanied by little round balls of good soft salted butter”

    I stopped reading & caring at this paragraph. Par baked bread from La Brea…shameful! It’s all about the bottom line..but naturally the customers love it which is why it’s done..you can’t keep a basket full of good, true artisan bread.

    kim @ apizza

  8. Carlo says

    FD: No need to defend yourself. That’s the great thing about the reviewing business — everyone is entitled to his own opinion.

    Still, shouldn’t you have awarded Carlyle at least another half star just for providing you and your friends with all those laughs?

  9. Chinaski says

    Lots of anger again from FD on this – which is very unlike him. Clearly something is going on.

    Though I will admit, while I have enjoyed their bread, I was surprised they dont use local bread. Given all the good local bakers.

  10. grapedog says

    To Kim’s point about the bread, I have to agree that anyone using La Brea bread (just like QFC does) in a city full of wonderful bread providers is just inexcusable. But, I have to mention that a number of my restaurant owner/friends have been turning to “outsourcing” of their bread, gnocchi and pasta production rather than continue to get up early and make the food each morning before service begins. It’s less work for them and they are surprised that NO ONE NOTICES the difference. Or, at least no one says anything about it. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the product is just as good as that made fresh in the kitchen each day. Rather, it means that most of the dining public in Portland can’t tell the difference.

    Re: Stacking
    I remember having dinner at Wildwood when Corey Schreiber was heavily into extreme stacking of food components on plates. It did become just too funny when a plate was so tall and fragile and no one knew how to eat it! Knock it over? Dismantle by hand?

  11. witzend says

    I also doubt any secret agenda, although, I too, found the review odd. It had an over-zelous tone, and at times struck me as conflicted. The review is virtually littered with glowing phrases describing the presentation; “beatifully presented”, “lovely”, “just gorgeous”, etc., yet simultaneously dedicates an entire paragraph to deriding the look of the plates.
    Many of the observations in both the review, and its rather melodramatic preamble, seemed to require validation from others.
    As a result, FD did not come across as confident in his assessments.
    Although the review seemed to have an odd undertone, many of the comments seemed perfectly legitimate. An overdone piece of veal is just that; overdone. My over-all impression of the reveiw was not so much that it was unfair, just uncomfortable.

  12. Dave J. says

    I’m somewhat mystified by the comments that there is a negative or derisive tone here–I did not pick up on it at all, and this review felt no different to me than other reviews here. As for the “discomfort,” FD admitted in an earlier post that he felt some hesitation about writing a negative review, given the gushing praise that Carlyle receives around town. Yet when you go three times and don’t get great meals, what can you do?

  13. Carlo says

    One major factor that can definitely color a diner’s impression of a restaurant — it’s never mentioned in reviews, of course, and this is something the restaurant is powerless to do anything about — is WHO he happens to be dining with. Maybe FD just needs to find a less cynical bunch of friends to dine with.

    But don’t worry, FD. We still love you (even as your credibility begins to plunge inexorably toward the abyss).

  14. Compote says

    “What’s wrong with me?” I’d often ask myself upon reading all the internet foodie praise for Carlyle. I ate there once (granted, only once..) and both me and my partner were served abysmally overcooked salmon. And of course, the plate presentation was stellar, round, and artsy. Nice to look at, but I’d much rather they had spent their time getting their temps right rather than celebrating roundness. Food Dude has established much trust in the foodie arena. I don’t always agree with his perspective as I do now, but I always honor it as valid and honest.

  15. Sir Loins says

    I’ll say that the build up yesterday had me expecting to read about a horrible I-puked-my-guts-out-after-every-meal-for-you experience.

    But the credibility and tone comments seem silly.

    What we know about FD is that he enjoys good food. We also know that he dines at a restaurant a few times before reviewing it.

    I think we can safely assume that he’s also got a tongue with tastebuds on it, and a brain with which to formulate and express his opinions, which he’s entitled to do however he likes.

  16. says

    While I won’t knock La Brea bread, as some of their stuff is really good, it’s not something I want when dropping a ton of money on a meal. I’m also a bit shocked that they didn’t go local, because even down here in S-town there is plenty of name-dropping wankery in the land of bread, and that’s a bit of easy cache to get.

    All this talk of bread reminds me of the time my grandfather broke a tooth on the bread at Il Fornaio in Palo Alto.

    Anyhow, interesting review. Though I certainly don’t do things on the same scale or price level as FD, I understand his nervousness of being negative about what sounds like a bit of a sacred cow. It takes quite a few cojones to publish a view that you know will produce alot of push back.

  17. Pam says

    My sense is that FD knew that an unfavorable review of Carlyle was bound to stir up the waters a bit, so was even more scrupulous than usual in recording the details of the meals he had there. He even said as much in his initial post. That may be where the ‘over zealous tone’ comes from.

    MSG, I’ve noticed that your comments often seem to have a sort of nasty edge. Isn’t there enough room in town for the two of you (and your often differing opinions)?

  18. Pork Cop says

    I told people once that I worked at Carlyle because my friends work(ed) there. I thought it would be funny to hear about them trying to figure out who Pork Cop was. It was a stupid thing to do. I regret it.I AM SORRY! Carlyle is one of the places I (still) really want to eat at in Portland. The person who “publicly busted” me never stated that they were the owner…?……?…Also, because FD allows me to comment on his site does not make us friends or have a mutual agenda. I respect his writing and insights. I especially respect him for going against the grain. More people should be questioning things in this country.

  19. pollo elastico says

    I think if someone plops down close to a grand of their own cash to simply post his own opinion on his free blog, he can think whatever that fuck what he wants.

    This is the antithesis of having a credibility problem – you can disagree with somebody’s opinionated conclusion, but you can’t in this case call out his motives.

    Dropping funds equal to the amount that would buy a laptop just to confirm to a few hundred blog readers that he still thinks Park Kitchen is the cat’s meow is a pretty bad ROI for astroturf. He’d be better off writing a fake letter to the editor in the Friday Oregonian Living insert.

    I will be purchasing a dozen “O” rings from the local machine shop. I want to construct towers using my favorite pedestrian ingredients (i.e. Korean instant ramen) at home – I too want to see if I can make anything look good.

  20. Emily says

    I have the opposite experience…I like Carlyle and have been many times over the last few months. However, I respect FD’s opinion, even if it differs from my own. It’s easy for us all to make pithy, witty comments about our various food exploits around town, but it’s another thing entirely to write a restaurant review, especially when you’re going against popular opinion. And I agree with him too often to completely dismiss this review as one with an agenda; I can’t imagine him saying, “Today I am going to bring that Bruce Goldberg DOWN!”

  21. miss heidelish says

    So FD sounds a little “off”; no matter. Some people will take all the praise of a review that a food critic can give and gloat in it. A responsible, conscientious chef will take note at the valid points posted in FD’s review. I think Dan Mondok is the sort of fellow who would read the review and take note. Sure, corrections can be made to his menu…work needs to be done….FD tried it several times and is calling out to pay some attention here. Good or sufficient can only take a restaurant so far. Hopefully Dan will take note, do some adjustments and keep in par with the menu, the presentation. I worked with him at the Heathman and have dined at Carlyle as well. Dan is good. He can improve. Kudos to people willing to say what they think, specifically of the menu. That’s what food critics are here for. Now hopefully Mondok is going to vein that foie….come on buddy!

  22. Diner says

    I don’t get it. I’ve dined at the Carlyle many times and always had exceptional food and service. I am comparing Carlyle to restaurants in Manhattan. e.g. Per Se for food quality. I think Food Dude rocks, but I’m not sure what he’s comparing this restaurant to, and on what basis. Local area price? What other restaurants?

  23. Plan 9 from LA says

    I couldn’t agree more with FD. I had a very disappointing dinner at Carlyle about six months ago, after reading several glowing reviews.

    As a starter I ordered a special of yellowtail sashimi. The fish was obviously not fresh (smelling…well, rather fishy), and clearly contained a fair amount of cartilage, as it was actually crunchy. Honestly, it was downright disgusting. How the kitchen could have allowed this dish on to our table is a mystery (since someone actually went through the trouble to plate the dish rather nicely). In my opinion, it was an inexcusable mistake. I can’t recall the specifics of the remainder of the meal, but it suffices to say that I felt many of the dishes were poorly executed, marred by an overabundance of mismatched ingredients.

    I really wanted to like Carlye. This town desperately needs more restaurants of this sort. But alas, I won’t be back until I hear of a dramatic shake-up in the kitchen.

  24. J. Biggs says

    I can deffinately see some obvious contadictions and serious angst in FDs review. It has puzzled me why a review of Carlyle took so long to come out anyways, they have been opened for 3 years and the chef has been there for over 1 year now. While it is important to note that opinions vary and so do palates, FD seems way off line here. The few times I have had dinner at Carlyle were some of the best meals Ive had on the west coast. Constant complaining about undercooked rissotto and ravioli seems very amature. Peppercorn seared tuna would indicate a “gritty” texture, and I thought the dish was excellent. Backhanded compliments aside, FD seems to have some unwritten problem with Carlyle that might have influenced his opinion. If you are laughing at what you call “Beautifully presented” dishes before you even try them, do you really even want them to be good. I for one will continue to dine there for lunch and dinner when Im not working in another kitchen in town that couldn’t hold a candle to this one, and judging by word around town, lots of other people will aswell.

  25. Marshall Manning says

    Dude’s experiences with Carlyle mimic mine, also, although he’s been there more often. The one dinner we had, probably over a year ago, was okay, with nice presentations, but none of the dishes were exciting (I tasted bits of almost every dish at a table with 8 diners) despite the interesting ingredients. Many lacked flavor, weren’t cooked quite correctly, etc.

    I’ve also been twice for lunch over the past few months. The best thing I’ve had there is the lunch hamburger, which is huge and tasty, was cooked exactly how I asked, and came with a nice cup of clam chowder. A lunch crab and mushroom risotto dish had very good flavors, but the risotto wasn’t cooked enough, and was still a bit tough and hadn’t reached that magically creamy state.

    At the prices they ask, especially for dinner, everything should be perfect, and it seems to be more of a place for people who are impressed by ingredients and presentation than those who are impressed by balanced flavors and proper cooking technique.

  26. extramsg says

    I don’t get it, Sir Loins? Are you saying that the critic should be immune from critique?

    Carlo, you make a good point about dining companions. I’m not saying that was the case with FD. But, eg, when PortlandFood.org had our meal at Siam Society, one table that I was at really liked their food, while the other table hated it. Afterwards, my only explanation was that people that liked the place, like me were at the first table explaining why the dish was good. While people at the other table, who were already negative about the place were pointing out and emphasizing anything that could be a flaw.

    The other thing about this, though, is that birds of a feather really do often flock together. The people FD eats with may have very similar tastes to him. While he pointed out some objectively poor execution, like the foie vein and the hangar steak being overly tough, a lot is just a question of palate. So Carlyle may not be his thing, and by extension, not his friends’ thing.

    btw, I’ve got plenty of pictures to prove that ring molds are not their only method of presentation.

    I thought there was derision in the review, but primarily from (typically) Nancy. You know, now that I think about it, maybe it’s an Andy Kaufman sort of thing and FD is actually dead or on an extended vacation and Nancy is keeping his site alive.

  27. sidemeat says

    Possibly Food Dude should take msg with him so that he can have it explained to him why a dish is good? What do you think Dude? Maybe you should start keeping better company? Consider this an intervention from people that love you.

  28. Pork Cop says

    Good food always needs some explaining. “You see Chocolate and Peanut Butter is a classic combination…..” Golly!

  29. Bruce Goldberg says

    As I have never had the opportunity to publically comment on a review, and as Mr. Dude has gone to so much trouble (and expense) to highlight my restaurant, I thought I’d throw my two cents in.
    First off, thank you for doing the review in the first place. Positive of negative, a review places a restaurant outside the pack, and I’m flattered that you chose to single us out.

    Needless to say, I want everone who enters our doors to have a wonderful experience. Do we achieve that goal 100% of the time? Certainly not! A review, and even more importantly, customer comments, afford restaurants the opportunity to learn and grow. I may not always agree with a reviewers observations, but you can be assured they don’t fall on deaf ears. In the three years Carlyle has been open, we have made many changes, and we continue to do so. Quite frankly, the process of change and adjustment is what draws me to this business in the first place.

    As to this particular review, I’ll offer up a few observations of my own:

    One of the previous posters suggested that as a result of hearing such glowing praise, that FoodDude may have approached this review with a greater degree of scrutiny. I think they may be right, and I also think if the shoe were on the other foot, I’d do the same. I felt some of his observations were rooted in personal preference, eg. “I might have liked it more if I hadn’t had one of the best beet salads of my life the night before, at Park Kitchen”. I can appreciate that, but why call the salad “flawed”?

    Early on in the review FoodDude suggests the cocktails could use some help, “suffering from too many little things floating in them that stuck to the teeth and tongue”. We have a couple cocktials on the specialty menu that both contain muddled mint; a Mojito and a Julep. I have to assume this is what he drank. He went on to say that “infusions would work better”. Well, perhaps they would for someone that prefers a non-classic preperation of those drinks. Ironically, with a little investigation, FoodDude would have learned that the vast majority of the other cocktails on that menu, are, in fact, made with infusions.

    Forgive me, I really hadn’t intended for this to be a review of the review, so I’ll try to wrap this up…

    On the flip side of the coin, many of FoodDude’s comments were spot on. His over-cooked veal was inexcusable, as was a chewy slice of Foie. I also agree with his opinion on both the Caesar and the butter lettuce salads. I’m sort of a purist when if comes to salads, but giving Daniel the lattitude to experiment often outweighs my own preferences. The melon was just a bad idea, and doing a Caesar in Portland that appeals to everyone? A hopeless venture if ever there was one!

    Speaking of Daniel, I should point out that I feel truely blessed to have such a passionate and gifted Chef in my employ. I’m very proud of him, and the staff that both he and Micheal, our GM, have assembled. We have a great crew at Carlyle.

    OK, now just a few words regarding some on the post-script comments on here:

    I lived in LA for 16 years, and one of my almost ritualistic pleasures there was a daily dose of Labrea Bakery bread. I feel no need to apologize for offering my customers (nostalgia aside) something I feel is a great product. Our guests love the stuff so wtf? Let the rest of the restaurants in PDX serve Ken’s.

    To the poster that complained about his “disgusting” Yellowtail sashimi – We have never offered as a special or regular menu item, Yellowtail sashimi, or anything remotely like it, perhaps with the exception of the Ahi described in the review. My guess is that you have never dined with us before.

    Finally, another note of thanks to FoodDude for creating and allowing for an open discussion of food in Portland. I sincerely hope that he’ll join us again in the future, perhaps in a slightly less official capacity.

    Bruce

  30. Carolyn Manning says

    Yep … the dinner Marshall and I had at Carlyle was undewhelming. There were 8 of us … people we love to be with and who we feed in our own home from time to time. We all ordered appetizers, salads or soup, entrees and desserts. In other words, we tried everything on the menu.

    The only standout I can recall from that night was an heirloom tomato salad, which was 4 thick slices of 4 different, perfect tomatoes, and not much else. There was little else done to them, other than the barest amount of balsamic drizzled on the plate and a few drops of good olive oil. Non-fussy, excellent ingredients, prepared simply … perfect!

    My flank steak was about 3 oz of tough meat with a heavy sauce. We exchanged tastes of our food all around the table, and I don’t recall anyone’s dish.

    For the prices they charge, I should have gone home and written in my diary about how dreamy every bite was!

    It was not the company … it was not the service (which WAS memorably good!) or the atmosphere (if you’ve been there, you know it’s a lovely space). It was the food … the food disappointed. I would have been disappointed if it had been $12/entree. But at $26 or so for a teensy bit of chewy beef, I was seriously put off.

    For a lot less in Portland, I can get much better food, in just as beautiful surroundings, and served by delightful people. Why would I go back to Carlyle?

    I realize for us it was a “one shot” deal. We tried it, were disappointed, and will not likely be back. Too expensive to risk it.

    However … FD went back over and over and over again, apparently experiencing disappointment after disappointment.

    Truly … which dining pattern matches the average Portland diner? Our “Fool me once, shame on you …” or Food Dude’s approach?

    Chefs … you have one first impression. If it’s good, we will forgive a bad night. If it’s bad, we may not give you a second chance.

  31. cognos2000 says

    I often don’t agree with FD. And this time I really think he’s complete WRONG. And I am going to agree with those who wonder about motives for this review. There is at least one person close to FD and this site who has been public about his complete disdain for Bruce Goldberg. ‘Nuff said.

  32. witzend says

    Cognos2000,”’nuff said” ??? I don’t think so. Not by half. If you’re going to make a statement like that, you should at the very least post something that can be effectively contradicted. Who are you talking about?

  33. Jill-O says

    My partner and I have eaten about 5-6 dinners at Carlyle since December 2005 and have had lunch there twice this summer. We have never had a bad meal there and have always been pleased with the quality of the ingredients, the execution of the dishes (including the plating), and have received, we think, the very best service in the city. I think it is a good value overall for fine dining and I think the FOH is stellar.

    Our first time there we ordered drinks from the bar and were not happy with them. They were quickly whisked away and two glasses of champagne brought in their place. We were not charged for those drinks. I cannot imagine why, if Plan 9 was so dissatisfied with the quality of the yellowtail, they didn’t send back the fish immediately. If they had, I imagine the situation would have been satisfactorily resolved. I do admit that I think it is odd that it made it out of the kitchen, though.

    I have had the risotto there on occasion and have found it to be very delicious and well-prepared. And honestly, risotto isn’t one of my favorite things to begin with, but I do like it there. They always carefully plate their dishes and never cover anything on the plate with sauces, usually spooning sauces around the edges of the food or artfully placing it on the empty portions of the plate…so I am having a hard time understanding how the aoli overpowered the tuna (which if it is peppercorn-crusted is usually gritty, by definition), if the diner probably had to apply the sauce themselves as they ate the tuna. I’ve had that veal ribeye before and it has been superb – a seriously juicy, tender, yummy piece of meat. I’ve also had the ravioli, and though there is only one in the order, I thought it was absolutely delicious and not undercooked at all…in fact at a PFG dinner in the kitchen, about 12-15 of us really loved that particular dish, and none of us thought it was undercooked.

    In all the meals there I have not experienced everything being presented ala ring mold or stacked. And I do find it odd that FD says in one review how the plate presentation/composition is “incredible” and “beautiful” and “lovely” and then, near the end, seems to mock the presentation as being too precious, too stacked and marred by the use of too many ring molds. Especially since both FD and Nancy seem to love Siam Society where almost every dish is accompanied by the familiar mix of field greens from a bag…and where a group of us were mocking that presentation one evening.

    So I guess we have to disagree on this one, FD, which is fine. We disagree on several places in town such as Park Kitchen, Nostrana and Alberta Oyster House – places where I haven’t been able to have a really good, much less great, meal…and at some of these the service we had was simply atrocious. But I haven’t eaten at any of these as much as I have eaten at Carlyle, and I can’t imagine having as many bad dishes there as you have reported.

  34. cognos2000 says

    witzend – the individual who writes reviews here under the pen name Michael Charles is the person who has made open comments about his disdain of Bruce Goldberg. I doubt he will contradict.

  35. Food Dude says

    Bruce – very classy response from someone in your position. Thank you.
    When I know something is cooked correctly, but just isn’t my thing, I always try to note that fact in the review.

    Cognos2000 – said I “There is at least one person close to FD and this site”… Actually, I’m not close to anyone who writes for this site. I’ve never even met most of them.

  36. cognos2000 says

    FoodDude – I just want to be really clear. You are saying that you don’t drink or dine or socialize with any of the people who are listed under the authors section of this website site, is that correct?

  37. nancy/din says

    Just now spending Saturday night reading aloud these comments. To Bruce Goldberg: Bravo, for being such a stand-up owner, for realizing that a few of the dishes may not work for everyone, while at the same time standing up for his crew, his diners, and the writers/readers of the site. By doing so, he only encourages people who may not have been inclined to return, to do so.

  38. extramsg says

    I don’t know cognos2000. Sounds like a pretty loose conspiracy. Perhaps better suited to Art Bell.

  39. cognos2000 says

    I would question if LA (Plan 9) confused Carafe with Carlyle and sashimi with one of Pascal’s fish tartare dishes.

  40. Michael Charles says

    Haven’t been to Carlyle in a couple years due to a nightmare experience there. No intention to detail here, but yes, I was disappointed that Bruce (a pretty good friend when we were kids–long before his L.A. event choreography fame) didn’t step up when he could and should have.

    Apparently, “cognos2000,” whose true identity is unknown to me, is one of the handful of people to whom I have told the story. It has never been my intention to broadcast it. I wish he/she had shown the good judgment to contact me privately before posting a conspiracy theory worthy of Lyndon LaRouche.

    I had nothing to do with Food Dude’s review of Carlyle. He hardly needs my help or input to form his opinions. Despite the review and my reported “disdain,” I remain interested in trying Carlyle again because of the great things I have heard about Daniel Modonk and his food.

    Regards,
    Michael Charles

  41. Pork Cop says

    Cognos,do you really need to get Pascals Restaurant(negatively) involved in this? Makes one wonder about who has the agenda here………

  42. Plan 9 From LA says

    Bruce, I take umbrage with your assertion that I have never dined in your restaurant. And I can produce the receipt if you need further evidence.

    I failed to mention in my comment, that while the offending dish was removed from our check, no other compensation was offered. The fact that you can unequivocally state that no such special has ever appeared on your menu and therefore conclude that I am being disingenuous only reinforces my suspicion that both your FOH and BOH lacks leadership.

    If you provide me with your email in your reply to this post I’ll send you my CC receipt, and if you have maintained your records you should own up to your kitchen’s mistake in this public forum.

    Believe me, I have no hidden agenda. As I stated earlier, this city desperately needs more restaurants like Carlyle in order to be taken seriously by the national food press. Perhaps I caught your restaurant on an off night, but the poor response by both the kitchen and management (and your response here) convinced me that my hard earned money would be better spent dining elsewhere.

  43. pollo elastico says

    “I failed to mention in my comment, that while the offending dish was removed from our check, no other compensation was offered.”

    Uh, what else did you expect you were entitled to? A massage? With a happy ending?

  44. Hunter says

    Strange chain of replies. It actually appears that somepeople take offense that others have had bad meals at a place they love. It happens. I also do have a hard time accepting that Mr. Goldberg thinks one of his detractors didn’t even eat at his restaurant. Though the remainder of his comments were gracious, that was uncalled for. I have also eaten at Carlyle many times, I have had really good meals, and I have had atrocious meals. I can say the same for just about any place in PDX. Those myrmidons of Carlyle unfortunatel have to accept that some don’t like it or had a bad meal and vice versa. It’s really not that surprising.

  45. says

    It actually appears that some people take offense that others have had bad meals at a place they love.
    I was thinking the same thing this morning on my run.
    If diners such as Jill-O (who I’ve met and dined with and whose judgment I trust) love Carlyle, well, great. I’m delighted; why wouldn’t I be? I am doubly delighted she feels no need to castigate someone who has not loved it, or to tell us why we’re food rubes, or that we have an agenda.
    I don’t know everything about how food should be prepared; neither does Jill-O, Food Dude, Bruce Goldberg or Anthony Bourdain. But we all have experience in the food world, we all eat daily, and form impressions about what’s been set before us. We will never all agree, and why should we? It’s not even possible. While I loved the roasted chicken heart I ate last night, it set my daughter’s vegan boyfriend on auto-retch. Vive la difference.

  46. Angelhair says

    I think it should be noted that FD’s review is not actually a bad review. It is certainly provacative given others glowing comments. But re-read his review, everyone. He’s not actually slamming the place. if anything, his review is more even-handed than many of the comments which say ‘love it’, or ‘hate it’.

  47. says

    I am more shocked that Nancy lets her daughter date a vegan.

    Not being a Portlander and having no emotional ties to the Carlyle, I will offer to settle this, but somebody else will have to pay for the meal.

  48. extramsg says

    Angelhair, I think the two star rating and this paragraph probably taint it for a lot of people:

    The first time I went to Carlyle, the women I was with were laughing at the preponderance of round food. “Can you imagine how many ring molds they have back there?” While everything is beautiful, I am a bit put off when a dish comes as a round ring, piled impossibly high with other ingredients, all of which tremble with the first touch of a fork, and then scatter wildly across the plate. This is presentation geared to impress, and I caught myself wondering if they were going to these great lengths to distract me from the food. I sent Nancy Rommelmann and a couple of friends to see what they thought. After her meal, she said, “As to the presentation: I had to stop myself from laughing when three dishes were put on the table and all were round and stacked. I don’t understand this at all; this is like saying that every painting should be blue, or every song should have a guitar solo; that every short story should take place in an apartment building. We live in a city where we get excellent produce, game, fish, and cheese: why are they all dressed in the same clothing? I don’t trust this sort of methodology. It’s not a food philosophy; it’s relying on a trend (and/or perhaps making it easier for the chef), and a trend that is at least 15 years old. I don’t get it.” I couldn’t agree more.

  49. The Mick says

    I haven’t eaten at Carlyle yet (not for lack of want) but I am a little trepidatious as I hear all these comments about “tall food”. When this kind of presentation was popular (10 to 15 years ago) I absolutely abhorred it. Having to deconstruct your meal before eating it was quite the pain. Luckily the building boom meant that any architects working in kitchens back then returned to their profession of choice and left the cooking to chefs!

  50. mfk fisher says

    I am mystified by personal attacks on Nancy Rommelmann. We are lucky to have Nancy here in Portland — she has a lively, sophisticated critical voice and can write rings around everybody else in town. Frankly, the comments remind me of the kind of things people said about Ruth Reichl when she first started writing for the LA Times.

  51. Dave J. says

    I hate to talk about blog writers on the blog itself (too meta for my blood), but as it relates to Nancy, I think it’s the she-just-moved-here-where-does-she-get-off-thinking-she-knows-more-than-me syndrome. Portland has a very small town feel to it, particularly when you get into a given industry and start talking about it. You see these comments from local chefs all the time–everyone knows everyone. When some out-of-towner (especially someone from–gasp!–L.A.) moves here and starts talking about it, people get all weird.

    I got this when I moved to town 6 years ago. I’d tell someone “to be honest, I didn’t really like Esparza’s that much” and they’d give me this “you just moved here, idiot” vibe, as if somehow the quality of my opinion would improve with age and experience. (Note: 6 years later, I still think Esparza’s sucks.) I think this is what Nancy gets, writ large. Plus, of course, her introduction to most of Portland was her apple-cart-upsetting Saucebox review.

  52. Food Dude says

    Dave J. This is rather ironic. The Saucebox review was actually Nancy’s second. The first? “Sentimental Dining – Facing the meaty truth about the perennially popular Esparza’s“. I learned from her experience, and try to limit my attacks on icons to two a year ;)

  53. Daaaaave says

    What I find interesting in all this is, the review itself aside, most of this town’s foodies have stated they’ve been aching for someone to write critical reviews of the restaurants in this town, where the grades range a little bit more variably than B- to B as they do in the papers. I’ve not been to Carlyle yet, so I can’t match my own personal experience to those presented here, but I do note the incongruity of desiring critical reviews and then questioning the motives, palates and veracity of the people who put their butt on the line to give an opinion outside of that B range.

    In my opinion, the sheer number of responses and passion of the debate alone makes the review a worthy one. It’s about time we had more discourse and debate like this and less simplistic “top 5 whatever” lists.

  54. says

    When I started reviewing for WW (in early 2005), my editor at the time wanted exactly this from me: take a look at some of Portland’s sacred cows, and see what you think. I did. You’ve seen the reactions, both good and bad. Dave J’s point–local contentions that, if we lived here long enough, we’d like the food–is spot-on. It’s called sentimental dining, and I had it, too, for a place in Greenwich Village called The Blue Mill, where my dad was a bartender and where I ate at least 200 times during my childhood. Were the steaks and fried scallops and Shirley Temples as perfect as I recalled? They were, still, the day Frank Sinatra died, and I sat at the bar with my husband and drank Manhattans and watched an homage to Ol’ Blue Eyes on WPIX. And if anyone had said a bad word about the place, I would have told him, what the f do you know? And I might have kept fighting for my memory, if I hadn’t walked in a few months ago and seen that The Blue Mill had been gutted, the beautiful 1940s fixtures replaced with cheap geegaws, a horrible mural splashed along the back wall. I actually felt sick sitting in the place. But perhaps the little girl who lives in the building next door, as I did in 1964, loves it. And she will not be wrong. But hers is not the opinion we put in the paper.

  55. Pork Cop says

    I think some “Foodies”??? are feeling an assault on Portlands perceived progress in the fancy restaurants area. It’s not like this place is an institution. It’s rather new but it promised something to some people. BTW, Esparzas has never ever been good. I was scratching my head in 1993 or whenever. Thinking: ‘What on Earth are they talking about”……

  56. Ken Collura says

    Nancy: You must have grown up down the street from me. I was the kid playing stickball on Greenwich Street against the (then) post office, and playing handball in the park at Carmine and Varick. Our family would eat in The Blue Mill on Commerce Street (I always wished I lived in that building where Commerce Street curved, the one with the cast-iron stairway outside), we went the Cherry Lane Theater right next to the Blue Mill, listened to jazz at the Half Note on Spring and Hudson, and drank beer at Chumley’s Tavern on Bedford Street (my grandmother lived on Bedford and Christopher, right across from the Theater de Lys). It would be fun sometime to talk about our memories of childhood in Greenwich Village.

  57. says

    Ken – My dad played stickball on Greenwich! He grew up on the corner of Barrow and Bedford, worked at the Cherry Lane in the 1950s. I moved when I was little to Brooklyn Heights, but my grandmother lived on Barrow until the 1980s, the street was home to us. And I try to stop in Chumley’s when I’m in NY.
    Sorry to use your board, Food Dude, as reminiscent corner. Drop me an email (on my website), Ken, and we’ll have a coffee at Ristretto.

  58. extramsg says

    I think I was the only one that really said anything about Nancy personally, just noting that her comments are often derisive. Perhaps she got thrown into it a bit by her editors, but there was certainly an attitude in the reviews. I defended her review of Saucebox pointing out that the review part itself was fair, it was just a bit snotty with paragraphs like these:

    The first time I notice Saucebox it is because six women are seated out front, shrieking over an engagement ring.

    “Let’s never go there,” says my husband, Din

    After leaving a lot of food on our plates, we try to figure out why so many dishes have gone wrong. Liz thinks the chef, Adam Kekahuna, has a “raging sweet tooth.” I suggest he’s a heavy smoker and cannot taste what’s going on. Din’s theory is the most sensible: “Maybe everything is so salty because he wants you to drink more.”

    “The food they didn’t cook is better than the food they cooked,” says Din, and then takes a bite of “new wave” haupia ($7), fried coconut cream with roasted pineapple. His expression goes quizzical as he runs a finger through the dessert’s sake-caramel sauce. “It’s really salty,” he says. “Isn’t that weird?”

    At Saucebox, no. Another cocktail, darling?

    I think this same mocking tone is shown in the quotes Food Dude gives from Nancy.

    I agree that Nancy is a good writer, but with great power comes great responsibility.

  59. Sir Loins says

    msg, I found Nancy’s Saucebox review pretty entertaining, actually. It was less of the usual dish-by-dish critique, which can get dull very quickly, and more of a recap of the conversation that two diners had while they were there.

    I don’t understand all the hubbub around FD’s review of Carlyle, or NancyR’s tone or writing style. Critiquing the food critics is boring. I just want to know what they think.

  60. Doris says

    I find it astounding that people are still hot under the collar about Nancy’s Saucebox review. Who knew it would live in infamy? Yes, she pointed out the Emperor’s lack of clothes (not to mention excessive saltiness) and did so in an entertaining manner. One person’s derision is another person’s wit. As far as great responsibility goes, we’re talking about restaurants, folks, not the state of the Mideast.

  61. pdxeater says

    yeah, and ditch the pseudo quotes from Star Wars. great power? give me a break. not everyone has to write the same way, or have the same opinions about food and restaurants. I like a little wit with my critiques, it beats pedantry in my book.

  62. singingpig says

    Exactly what part of the review on Saucebox did you find ‘derisive’?

    I found nothing derisive about it. I found nothing derisive about Food Dude’s review of Carlyle. I read 2 stories of people describing the conversation at their tables on a given evening. I enjoyed those stories because they evoked memories of fun evenings I have enjoyed dining out.

  63. Pork Cop says

    Maybe it’s all the quality writing combined with subtle dashes of humor, wit, insight and independent thinking that have Extra so flummoxed.

  64. mfk fisher says

    In regard to issues with the Saucebox review, great writers “show,” rather than “tell,” and that’s what describing other diners in a restaurant is about. A catalog of dishes is boring writing. It is no more irresponsible for a restaurant critic to describe what she has seen there as a way of characterizing a restaurant than for a theater critic to describe a scene in a play. This is exactly the sort of criticism Ruth Reichl got when she eavesdropped on the convesations at the next table. Folks, this is lively writing. And it’s opinion.

  65. singingpig says

    Pork Cop and mfk fisher–couldn’t agree more with both of you.

    I personally object to ExtraMSG hijacking this thread (wasn’t it about Carlyle?) to carry out his personal vendetta agianst Nancy. He could have at least put his comments in the ‘reveiwing the reviewer’ thread.

    His comments strike me as very hypocritical, as I find 90% of his writing to bemocking and derisive–exactly what he is chastising Food Dude and Nancy for. It’s odd that it is perfectly legitimate for MSG to be mocking and derisive but it is against the rules for anyone else.

    Witzend, you should get right on this matter–maybe it’s another ‘hidden agenda’!!! OMG!!!

  66. jake says

    i worked for bruce 3 yrs ago he is very good at what he dose though stability in his kitchen is not there if he could keep the same staff on hand for a while carlyle would be a great place to eat every time

  67. Biscuit Queen says

    I totally agree with FD’s review. I had not been to Carlyle until after reading many glowing recommendations for it on many of the Portland foodie boards. Naturally, I was very excited to try it, but extremely disappointed once I did. I think his review reflects my experiences there, and it’s nice to see that someone else agrees.

  68. syrah girl says

    I’ll comment here on our lunch at Carlyle last February. The space is very pretty and we were promptly seated at a table to the right of the dining room. The fresh green salad with the Cinderella pumpkin was very good, no complaints. My entree were the Sea Scallops that were perfectly prepared.

    Our service was a bit spotty but other than that, no complaints about Carlyle. My daughter had an Egg Salad on Broiche that she enjoyed and the Carlyle Hamburger that my husband ordered looked very good.

    Another great place in PDX for a meal! :)

  69. heps says

    After a just-okay experience our first time, my husband and I returned to Carlyle last night to give it a second try. We were pleasantly surprised and enjoyed good food and good service. I had the osso bucco and my husband had the rib eye, and we both cleaned our plates.

    Both times that we’ve been there, the host has seemed rather flighty, and almost rude, however. Last night, he asked if he could take my coat, and I said yes, and began removing it. He then turned around and walked away and began talking to someone sitting at the bar. I was left standing there with my coat half-off, confused. I assume that he just misheard, but it was kind of odd. Overall, however, we had a very good dinner.

  70. foodrebel says

    After what I understand, Daniel is going to Olea to replace Scott, who is going to Gracie’s to replace whom ever was there who I hope will be put to sleep as he was giving a bad name to the industry.
    Let’s see who will replace Daniel and who will replace the guy who replace Daniel and …shit! I give up.
    Also, I heard that the guy from Everett St Bistro is back at Andina.
    Looks like a full time job to keep up with this!

  71. Cognos2000 says

    foodrebel – I’d say Patrick is not going anywhere for awhile. Though if he does, I doubt it will be because he has disagreements with management.

  72. Cognos2000 says

    Well, this review sure never got updated or revisited. I still like the place a lot and Chef Patrick does some amazing things. Meanwhile, Mondak has long left Olea for Sel Gris.

  73. rouxster says

    a rather dramatic thread, and i (happily) read every post. it got me thinking, would Dude’s opinion hold true today? how much of a restaurant is dependant on the particular chef…was Montak to blame? Goldberg?

    I ‘ve never been to Carlyle, and I was set on carlyle over Heathman and Lucier to celebrate my parent’s 40th anniversary…but FD’s review, as well as the comments of several other people, gives me serious pause. Or should I give Chef Patrick a chance?

  74. aidensnd says

    Just a couple of things. I believe it’s Mondok, not Montak, and Patrick is no longer at Carlyle. Considering FD’s review is just under 2 years old there is nothing in it that applies to how Carlyle is now. There is a different chef and pastry chef, the rest of the kitchen staff is new, new bartender, new servers, etc… If anything I would look at recent comments about it instead of using FD’s review as a guide.

  75. says

    All the reviews and comments above are dated to July, 2008 and before. Most of them are from 2006. I ate there last night, June 19th, 2009. For me, it was the most satisfying meal I’ve had in Portland so far. Also, the chefs are now: John Martin and Ethan Stowell.
    It beat Beast and Le Pigeon; it by far surpassed my experiences at Higgins, Heathman and Paley’s, places that I’m disinclined to return to.
    It satisfied me more than Beast because there was more to my courses. They were richer and more fulfilling. I had Octopus Poelee and Sweetbreads and Striped bass, my fellow diner had the Lobster Risotto and NY Strip Steak. At last I found a restaurant that could overwhelm me with its richness and fulfillment. I couldn’t order dessert. Combining the Lobster Risotto with the NY Strip Steak was almost a mistake as far as too much of a good thing for my fellow diner.