Note: This restaurant closed on January 3, 2011. This review was written in 2009.
Fugue – Music: a composition based on multiple themes, which are enunciated by several voices or parts in turn, and gradually built up into a complex form having somewhat distinct divisions or stages of development and a marked climax at the end.
For those who have been reading my reviews for some time, it’s no secret that I have a background in music. Growing up, I was exposed to a wide variety and played multiple instruments. For this reason, I tend to make lots of musical references when I write reviews. To me, music, food, and art all seem to go together.
Sitting at a dinner at Ten 01 last week, watching the carefully controlled chaos, I couldn’t help but think of a fugue. When I review any meal, I consider all of the parts swirling around and building on each other. The host, the server, the menus, bartender, sommelier, and finally the kitchen, each choreographed to come in at just the right moment. In some restaurants, there are more parts than others, but each one is no less important. When the moment arrives and the meal is finished and I sit back in my chair – all of those elements are now a composition. I either see a perfect fugue or dissonance.
Putting aside the emotional components, I mentally scored the composition: front of the house four stars, service four stars, quality of drinks four stars, sommelier four stars, quality of food 3.75 stars; it was an exceptional meal. That final dinner confirmed what I already suspected – Ten 01 is my restaurant of the year.
When they opened in 2006, the food was panned by the Portland media, and the restaurant teetered on closing. Then owners Adam Berger and Michael Rypkema made a brilliant move. They hired a chef named Jack Yoss. He’d bounced around working at high-end restaurants over the years, putting in time as Chef de Cuisine at Postrio, and as the Executive Chef of the W Hotel in Westwood California. His experience showed. Over the next year, he slowly transformed every aspect of the food.
I think the way a restaurant responds to the negative aspects of a review is very telling. Some managers scream the reviewer is an idiot; others refuse to acknowledge it entirely. When I reviewed Ten 01 a year ago, I was very pleased but did have a few negative comments. When I returned a few months later, I was surprised – every single thing I’d complained about had been corrected. This was consistent over my next six visits.
The restaurant is striking; in places, the ceiling soars three floors, with dramatic light fixtures drawing the eye upward. A medium-sized bar area flanks the south side with lots of windows overlooking the street. The dining room is open and airy, with more large windows. More intimate dining spaces are provided upstairs, as well as a really nice private space for groups. A refresh in late 2008 has kept the restaurant clean and up to date.
The interior shows a commitment to using recyclable materials whenever possible. A booth near the entrance has opaque dividing walls made with ryegrass in semi-transparent resin panels; it creates a much more inviting space and almost has a private feel. Carpets are made from recycled fibers, and the bar is a 20′ long walnut beam of recycled timber, flanked with stainless steel. There are lots of nice touches; it’s obvious a lot of thought was put into the space. Though getting to the stairway is awkward, and the bar area is a bit tight, for the most part, everything succeeds. Cork has been used extensively throughout the design, which keeps the noise level reasonable – even with a full house. All in all, the space is very warm and inviting, cozy yet open and functional. The lighting is well designed, throwing warmth everywhere, making it easy to see, yet never glaring. The walls are all tans and yellows, very neutral, and easy on the eyes.
Cocktails are well made, with great attention to detail. There has been a trend with some Portland bartenders to make more and more complicated drinks – new recipes and ingredients that are bound to be forgotten in five years. Ten 01’s are mostly a modernized take on classics. There aren’t a lot of sweet concoctions where the alcohol is buried; here the flavor of the primary ingredient takes front and center. A simple twist on a classic, the Derby, is updated with bourbon, Benedictine, and bitters. If you are a bourbon lover, this is a great drink, the Benedictine, and bitters giving a bit of extra depth and a slight offset to the flavor profile of the center liquor ($8). More subtle, the smooth and complex Gin Blossom of gin, Martin Bianco, Apricot Eau de Vie, and orange bitters is perfect. Try the Cryptic Memo – rye, Campari, and Ramazzotti Amaro. It manages to be both bitter and sweet with lots of depth; not for the faint of heart, but terrific ($8).In my opinion, Bartender Kelly Swenson is firmly tied as one of the best in Portland.
The wine list is huge; sommelier Erica Landon has assembled an excellent cellar of over 3,000 bottles. Erica is a walking wine book herself. I’ve asked the most inane questions, and every time she has fired the answer right back, usually in astonishing detail. Even the regular servers have a good knowledge of the list, and if they don’t have an answer, make sure to find out.
A good selection of wines is offered by the glass, though they are a bit on the spendy side, with most at $10 and up. The cellar list is huge; if you are into wine you’ll have a good time just browsing. Prices range from the mid $ ’20s to the stratosphere. The markup on many bottles is surprisingly reasonable.
Ten 01 hosts my favorite happy hour in Portland, running Monday through Saturday from 3 pm to 6 pm. Featured are easy foods like oysters for a dollar apiece, a terrific house-made chorizo burger topped with a fried egg ($5), and a huge bowl of addictive truffle fries that you’ll be telling friends about the next day – crisp and salty, with just the right amount of truffle to perfume the potato ($4). Other winners include marvelous Thai-style pork ribs with a garlic-shrimp glaze ($7), slightly smoky grilled house-made sausage with bright pickled beets and wildflower honey-mustard ($4), a Cattail Creek lamb burger with lovely barrel-aged feta, pickled cucumber, grilled onion, and garlic-oregano aioli ($5), and a perfect organic butter lettuce salad with lemon-garlic dressing: the lettuce piled high, draped with beautiful light Spanish anchovies, and sprinkled with pumpkin seeds and niçoise olives ($5). On a cold afternoon, a bowl of Willapa Bay clams and Mediterranean mussels makes a warming companion. It arrives in a sumptuous broth of Tessa bacon, white wine, garlic, and Italian chilies ($5).
The regular bar menu only varies in the size and price of the plates. One evening I was in the mood for oysters. They tasted as fresh as you will find, and the cucumber-yuzu mignonette adds a slight tangy grace note against a crisp clean background. I’ve ordered them several times, and have never been disappointed ($2.50 each, $14 half-dozen). (Yuzu is a small sour Japanese fruit.) The makeup of the charcuterie plate varies slightly from month to month, but it is consistently the best in Portland. It is easily big enough for two, usually includes incredible pâté, excellent crackling, smoky bread, and the obligatory mustard and cornichons. The current menu includes sanguinacio, capocolla Pugliese, coppa, ventracina, cotechino, soppresatta, goat chorizo, Spanish chorizo, andouillie,ocadella (goose mortadella), curry salami, and lamb and duck prosciutto. Most of them are made by John Baldasarre, a talented charcuterie chef ($14).
I have to dig deep to find any issues with the bar food, especially for the price! My biggest complaint is the tables are too damn small for all the food I end up ordering!
Meals in the dining room begin with an amuse-bouche – a bite-sized serving to wake up your palate. One night it consisted of cauliflower panna cotta, crab meat, and ahi caviar. It was perfect; all the flavors came through, with the caviar giving a nice crunchy texture. Another night it consisted of raw tuna set into little ceramic spoons on a matching plate. It was covered with a very authentic tasting Thai dressing and a little mound of ahi caviar.
From my experience, Chef Jack Yoss is a master of soups, one of the true tests of a chef’s skill. They are consistently some of the best I’ve had in Portland. My favorite to date is winter turnip bisque with duck confit and a scattering of pickled red onions. It’s absolutely amazing. I went back another time just for that soup. It begins with a slightly sweet note, but then you get the meaty, salty chords from the confit – they go together beautifully. The winter parsnip bisque is another example of perfection. It consists of chestnuts, pickled shallots, and creamy hot bisque – perfect comfort food. I couldn’t have gotten that bowl any cleaner without licking it. Last fall they offered vivid corn bisque, fairly bursting of summer – you could taste the sun. Slightly less successful is the current roasted butternut squash with duck confit, poached apples, and toasted pistachio oil. I found the confit made it a bit heavy, though I’ve stolen the idea of pistachio oil for my own version (all $12).
Great attention has been paid to salads. A lovely ride of tastes, the Gene Theil heirloom beets salad is especially recommended. The foundation is a trembling blue cheese-horseradish panna cotta, but it’s slightly tucked away under the greens; sitting atop, a lovely mix of candied walnuts, iridescent beets, and light lemon vinaigrette. The beets are in a rainbow of colors, perfectly cooked and sweet, the horseradish and blue cheese an indulgent counterpoint ($12). Even a boring-sounding salad of “organic mixed baby greens” stuns. Tossed among the greens are surprising little chunks of sweet and sour butternut squash, brilliantly set off by preserved lemon vinaigrette and a dusting of pecorino cheese ($12).
One evening I tried the sashimi of hamachi. A feast for the eyes as well as the palate, thin slices of fresh fish lie crosswise across the plate, topped by a deft hand, wielding preserved orange-yuzu kosho vinaigrette, caviar, and Thai basil oil. The entire production glistens: pink fish, iridescent orange zest, and brilliant green basil. It’s an impeccable interpretation ($14).
Another great appetizer is the cider-glazed Sweetbriar Farms pork belly. It comes with shaved Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard, and a fried quail egg. This is an inspired combination, light, yet rich and incredibly flavorful. The belly shimmers seductively, with the quail eggs guarding the top, and the chard making up the base ($12).
At this point, you’re probably looking for your car keys, but the fugue is still building. On to the main event: the entrees. We’ll start with sautéed day boat scallops. Large scallops, properly cooked with a slight sear arrive with an adornment of white bean puree, crawfish, roasted peppers, and (brace yourself), chorizo vinaigrette. Nothing overpowers, it’s a synergy of flavors ($28).
The “fromage blanc gnocchi” is a bit deceptive, the name downplaying the defining role of the duck. A wonderful cheesy light gnocchi is a perfect match for the defining component – incredibly moist duck. I’ve had this dish twice, and though it currently consists of duck breast arrayed across the gnocchi, I could swear it was a duck leg the first time. None of that matters; the meat has a really good, funky duck taste. The kitchen manages to cook it so there is a little layer of fat, yet the skin is still crispy. The rest of the plate is made up of caramelized butternut squash, pearl onions, and champagne gastrique. At $22.00, this dish is a steal.
Indian-spiced lamb chops are nicely cooked and juicy, slightly gamey, just as they should be. They come with a comforting cauliflower-chorizo gratin, Marcona almonds, and a bed of Swiss chard. Over the top, a light curry vinaigrette. It’s a nice dish, though it didn’t blow me away ($32).
If you are hankering for comfort food, head straight to the Cascade Natural ribeye. This is over-the-top decadence – a large flavorful rib-eye steak that pairs well with brown butter-creamed arugula, colorful honey-glazed Gene Theil carrots, and a rich bordelaise that will have you glancing around the dining room to see if they have a defibrillator. It’s rich, satisfying, and so-not-cutting-edge cuisine. That being said, I’ve had it twice, followed by an emergency nap ($32). Another comfort dish found more commonly these days is the pinot noir-braised short rib. It’s slow-cooked, tender, and moist, surrounded by a smooth parsnip purée, Brussels sprouts hash, pinot noir jus, and a lovely horseradish gremolata, which puts it over most versions of this dish ($30).
Pastry chef Jeff McCarthy has infused the desserts with a decadent passion. It’s one of those menus where many items are as good as they sound – “chocolate whiskey cake with brown butter caramel, and toffee-caramel ice cream”, or “chocolate chip banana bread pudding with a rum/caramel.” The latter is the best bread pudding I’ve ever had. The caramel has a nice rum flavor without being overpowering, and the balance of chocolate to bread is nearly perfect. The bread pudding changes from time to time, but all versions are great. Other desserts come and go. Recent standouts were the peanut butter crème brûlée, with its crispy crust, nice custard, and a layer of good jam underneath – it was like a decadent peanut butter sandwich or pear fritters; warm airy golf ball-sized fritters with an indulgent Clear Creek pear brandy caramel (all desserts $8).
In my last review, I complained that “service could be more attentive.” This time I’ll go in the opposite direction and say that service couldn’t be more attentive without being obtrusive. The host has been terrific every time, making me feel welcome and seating us quickly, and the server stops by almost immediately. If I have any complaint, it’s that food tends to come out of the kitchen so fast I can’t catch my breath. The first few visits, we got the appetizers and cocktails at the same time and the wine order before I finished those. It’s annoying, and makes me feel rushed – and I’m not a slow diner. I’ve learned to order cocktails, stall a bit, and then order food and wine. That being said, every other aspect of service has been perfect. The servers seem to know almost every detail of the dishes and have been able to define any ingredient I threw at them. The few times I asked an obscure question they couldn’t answer, the response was textbook – “I’m not sure, let me check for you” – and they were back in a flash with the answer. This staff is absolutely professional, perhaps the best in Portland.
One final note: For many of us, money is tight right now. If you want to experience Ten 01 without the dinnertime prices, check out the lunch deal: It’s called the Power Lunch, and you choose from 3 appetizers, three entrees, and get a dessert for $15. Even better, a little selection of drinks from martini’s to a bloody Mary, a glass of wine, or beer is available, most at $4.00.
Overall, the restaurant has made huge strides since its opening. Jack Yoss has completely revamped the kitchen, making it one of the most sophisticated dining experiences in Portland. Three-quarters of the way through this review, I was shocked to hear he was leaving town at the end of March, but I’m hopeful the management will find someone worthy to step in his shoes; I’ll keep you informed. In the meantime, think of some reason to celebrate and go. Listen to the music of your experience – It’s my restaurant of the year.
- Address: 1001 N.W. Couch St., Portland, Or. 97209. Google Map
- Phone: 503-226-3463
- Hours: Lunch Mon-Sat 11:30am-3pm. Dinner Mon – Sat from 5pm. Happy hour Mon – Sat 3pm – 6pm
- Website: Ten-01.com
Valet parking available. Ask for downstairs seating when making a reservation if you need wheelchair access
The total cost of this review was $647.00.
Food Dude says
I’m not sure if you are talking about the review or the restaurant, but I’ll say thanks just in case ;)
I was talking about both! I am in total agreement and salute your choice! Beautiful review.
I’ve had a half dozen lunches, an anniversary dinner and a firm holiday dinner at Ten 01 in the past twelve months. You are, without question, spot on with this one.
Just out of interest – who’s your other top bartender in Portland?
Food Dude says
Kevin Ludwig, currently at Clyde Common. I haven’t tried Lance Mayhew’s drinks, so can’t really compare him.
Congrats to all of those at Ten-01. Well deserved, it is in my top faves when visiting in Portland. Living in LA, I selfishly hope that when Jack Yoss lands from his travels, it is back here. Cheers to Ten-01!
Lance J. Mayhew says
I wholeheartedly agree that Kevin and Kelley are the two best bartenders in Portland. Its not even close imho.
Great review, I completely agree with this. Ten01 is my favorite restaurant in the city right now. Great cocktails, wonderful wines and food and service that set the standard here in Portland.
Couldn’t agree with you more. This restaurant nails it in every category, and the staff is wonderful. Now if only the newspapers that wrote negative reviews would re-review the place.
Food Dude says
Cuisine Bonne Femme says
Yeah, its really been a shame that the media outlets that slammed Ten 01 so hard last year haven’t done new reviews.
Ten 01 really is the best restaurant in town right now. And for them to have turned it around so far in such a short amount of time is amazing.
They deserve lots of kudos.
I’m with you FoodDude. Ten-01 served up my best meal in Portland – no small feat. And, the ribeye is outstanding. Honorable mention to DOC in my book. Two meals there and I’ve ate through the entire menu twice.
Just curious what Food Dude’s runner up might be?
I too agree with you also. I think there are many owner/operators who could learn from Ten-01. After a tough opening, they shifted gears and really turned it around. At least management had the sense to swithc chefs, and change and adjust. Jack was a great hire. It is really too bad he is leaving. I agree his replacement is going to be paramont ! But if they hire the right person, Ten-01 may get better?? Lets hope the new person gets along with others, but has enough sense not to be Jack, and has his or her own “panache”.
Kelly runs a great bar, and Erica really is the glue that holds it all together. She is also a “sweetheart”. Ten-01 has the best list in town for a new restaurant in Oregon. Lets hope she will have the financial ability to continue the “depth” in the cellar. Once that cellar has some age and depth…it will truly be a treat. But with the current financial situation, depth and age are really a committment. It takes deep pockets to commit to that list. Year after year, vintage after vintage good times and bad…will they let her spend and build the cellar???
Food wise, Ten-01 takes a good “safe” approach to its menu. Changing items every few months, allowing the food cost to be some what “static” with fluctuations in the begining of a menu change and once you have a menu mix you can make better operating/shopping judgements. The only problem with that is that if you eat at Ten-01 more than 12 times a month….the menu gets stale. But that is really a “picchionne” comment.
To Erica, Kelly, Jack, Didier and the whole Ten-01 crew congrats!!! I heard that when Daniel recieved 4 NY Times stars they had a great party with a kilo of caviar and opened a few really nice bottles of wine. In Eric Riperts’ new book, On the Line . Eric says that after his first NY Times 4 Star review the restaurant had 3 killograms of Iranian Osetra caviar, foie gras and Champagne and Bourdeaux. ( page 125 sub title “pure decadance” “On the line” )
What will Ten-01 do??? Double Jeraboms of 1976 Bollinger “Special Celebration” with Foie Gras and a Jerabom of ’57 Y’Quem sound appropriate!!! Okay that may be a little excesssive, how about a case of ’88 Bollinger R.D. with a bunch of Jack’s liver fritters???? I’ll be there Friday night for my share…
BTW, I love the lamb burger!!!!!
Wholeheartedly agree 1001 is tops! It is so good, that it was able to overcome the entrenched prejudice of this crowd against anything that has to do with the Pearl District. Quite an achievement!
Couldn’t agree more with your review…Ten-01 is where we go when we want to dress up and spend some money on some really good food. Sure hope they manage to keep it up after Jack leaves…
I would agree with most everything there FD, especially about Kelly’s prowess behind the bar and t great happy hour and lunch deals. What I totally disagree wit is your comment on the wines and the “Markup on many bottles is surprisingly reasonable”. I totally respect Erica’s knowledge and her wonderful personality, but being in the wine business and knowing wholesale pricing I find it virtually impossible to find any reasonable markups. Three times (or more) wholesale pricing does not a good value list make. To make sure I wasn’t out of touch I just checked the wine list online and same story. In the “red wines under $50” there are only FOUR selections, and those are marked up at least 3-1/2 over wholesale!! Are they saying they can’t find anything worth serving by the bottle in the $25-$35 range? If the answer is no then they need to try harder.
Food Dude says
Um, I’m not sure what menu you are looking at, but I took a quick glance at the wine list pdf on their website, and quit counting when I hit 40 reds under $50. Also, when I talk about markup, I am comparing to the average Portland restaurant wine list.
Cindy Anderson says
Their Happy Hour gets a Perfect Ten too!!
wineguy being in the industry may already know that the lowest priced wines are the most marked up perhaps reference mid and upper tier wines if your going to review the mark-ups… anyways congrats to 10-01 great comeback and great restaurant
I did in my “three times wholesale” comment when I was talking about the wine list as a whole. And I still don’t see why they can’t offer something around because not everyone can afford $40 plus. I would think any restaurant would want to reach out to a wider audience, especially now!
hooray for Ten-01! we should all try to eat there at least one more time before Jack leaves. And with their smart decision making by hiring Jack, I rest assured that they will make another smart hire and yes, the restaurant could get even better!!!!
Does anyone know if they are doing a special Valentines menu?
Food Dude says
They haven’t sent me one yet, but I’ll post if I get one.
FD, I’m in complete agreement. Great review.
I agree too. They are putting out wonderful food and drinks with service to match.
robert reynolds says
nice to see hard work rewarded.
I completely agree with your choice, FD. Although I live in the Bay Area I make a point of eating at Ten01 every time I’m in Portland, and every time is amazing, with every element coming together perfectly to create a beautiful whole. I can’t think of another restaurant, here or there, that I can say that about. I would say the same thing about your review, which you obviously spent a lot of time and thought (and money!!) on. Well done on both your parts!
I had one great meal there with the exception of my wine (red) that was served too warm. I’ve been needing a kick in the pants to go there again – funny how one little misstep (that isn’t a huge deal) can make a customer reluctant to return when 99% of the rest of the experience was great. In this case, I’ve only been depriving myself, I guess!
Th Wannabe Gourmand says
Congratulations Chef Jack!
I think this is well deserved if somewhat belated recognition.
I have to take my wife to Ten-01 for dinner again soon, before Jack takes off.
My lunch there last week was perfect!
dearest food dood,
you described ten01’s hamachi accurately but the picture you have next to it is of a plate with apple-celeriac vin and carrot chips, not the yuzu vin and caviar
Food Dude says
Thanks for the correction
hey i’m new to this webstie so i dont know how to email you this question privately, i would if i did, and i also dont know how to change my password. what’s with the complicated passwords. i gotta go to my email and review your confirmation email every time i log in. are there cia secrets on this website? what’s the deal with the password?
FoodDude, what a thorough, thoughtful, and informed review! Thank you for setting the record straight on this deserving restaurant. Completely agree with your assessment. I didn’t know about the Power Lunch and am really looking forward to trying that. We love the Happy Hour and I can’t get enough of the ribs, fries, soups! and pear fritters.
But since there is always room for improvement :-), I would ask pastry chef, Jeff McCarthy, who creates some of the most delicious desserts in the city, to create a chocolate dessert (or 3 or 4 over the next year) that is a bit off the beaten path. I’m posting a year-long exploration of Northwest Chocolate Desserts this week and went back many times to Ten01 hoping to find something chocolate, other than a cake (especially not molten). I’d love to see some of the more “exotic” chocolate flavor combinations explored across the city: stout, herbs, fruits, chiles, ginger, lavender, rose, liqueurs, red wine, port, etc. Plus more emphasis on textural and temperature contrast on the plates. Looking forward to what he will come up with.
New Haven Pizza says
I think a restaurant needs to be flawless to earn this distinction.
Having read this review, I made it a point to have lunch there last week, and followed that up with a Happy Hour visit last night. My companion and I both ordered Power Lunches, which were fantastic. I had the Mac and Cheese w/ beef, and she had the chicken. We also had a salad, which I thought was devoid of flavor, and the croquettes. All but the salad were delicious. Lastly, the dessert plate of a few gellied squares, a truffle, and a cookie was fantastic. Great with the delicious coffeee. All one needed to finish off a meal. I highly recommend the power lunch.
The hostess, perfectly nice when we sat down, kind of sneered at us as we left. We killed two hours there while it was pouring rain before a meeting we had.
I won’t pontificate and try and sound like a restaurant critic here with the typical expected descriptions, because that’s not my objective in posting here. Last night’s experience is.
For Happy Hour, I ordered a beer and two oysters, the mussels and clams, and the ribs. The former two were great, although it took them until I was almost done with my mussels and clams to bring some delicious bread to sop up the broth. As I was eating, I watched as someone sat next to me, went to the bathroom, and returned to see her menus removed. She asked for them back. The people to my right had to ask when they might be getting their drinks. The bartender was attentive, saying “I am sure they are in the queue”, but went and made them anyway. The other bartender then took an order for a beer from the woman who had come back from the bathroom, and after she ordered a beer, she was asked, “you ordered a martini, too, didn’t you?” She responded that she hadn’t. I think the bartender had them confused.
I saw two other dishes being delivered to the wrong parties.
Then I got my ribs… I couldn’t believe it. The first rib had zero meat on it, and literally had a packed crusty topping A HALF INCH THICK. It was like a granola bar, but spicy. The second rib actually had some meat, but I think this dish was one of the worst things I’ve eaten in ages. I did like the salad underneath it, it complemented the spicy ribs nicely, though. But all night I felt kind of sick even thinking about those ribs… and still do this morning.
The lamb burgers looked great, and people were giving very positive signs as they bit into them. I will try Ten 01 again. Next time, fries and a burger.
I’ve left so many Portland restaurants utterly amazed. I guess I was impressed at lunch, but the ribs were enough to sour me on this place, at least combined with the confused service, to make me feel that it definitely doesn’t deserve ROY designation in my book.
Food Dude says
I had a terrific meal in the dining room last night – really good. I’d suggest you eat a meal in the dining room rather than bar food.
BTW, there has never been a flawless restaurant in Portland. Never.
New Haven Pizza says
I did have a meal in the dining room–lunch. I thought it was “really good”, as you suggested your meal was last night.
Of course people’s tastes are subjective, and maybe perceptions of service a bit less so, but I just reread your comments about the ribs. For the record, I didn’t just get off the boat and land in diningville, and I love ribs. (As far as interesting variations on them, the lamb ribs at Fife come to mind first). I thought Ten 01’s were way too heavy on the nuts and whatever other filler was packed onto the outside of the meat. The meat, on the one that had any, was tough. I couldn’t help but think I must have gotten a bad order. But, since they feature those ribs as the visual greeting on their website (which would signify to me it’s a “signature dish”), they look the same to me.
Just my opinion. And on any given day or night, any restaurant can be off. That’s why reviewers go back often before they write a review. I am not a reviewer, though, and I was just commenting on one item I had an issue with, which also happens to be on the lunch and dinner menus. So, whether I was eating it at the bar, or at a table in the dining room–for lunch or dinner–shouldn’t make a difference. Nor should one expect the service to be any different in the bar than in the dining room. I will make note that during lunch the staff was wonderful, and was more professional and closer to a New York experience than that which one experiences in most of Portland. They were also very professional in the bar. Just a little disorganized.
Nonetheless, I did like the lunch, and I am sure I will enjoy dinner when I partake (right now I am on kind of a budget-saving Happy Hour binge). I just won’t be ordering those ribs–er ah–I mean “Thai peanut Granola bar smashed on to something resembling a rib over greens”.
I’d be interested in hearing if anyone agrees with me–or disagrees. Seriously, they made me sick. That doesn’t happen often. (I know, the first question I, too, am asking myself is how I got to the second rib…) I am sure many disagree, otherwise they wouldn’t be the opening salvo on their website.
Some people are of the view that every opinion is simply that, and, therefore, of equal value. Reading this poster’s comments, I am reminded why I disagree.
That sucks. Sounds like a bad rib experience.
You might want to try a ROY restaurant based on an actual dinner, though. Just a thought.
I have to echo what you said about Ten01. I went to happy hour there last week. The white sauce on the fries was obviously separated. It was gross. I don’t know how it made it out of the kitchen. The rest of the food was just ok.
I stopped in for lunch today and went with their “Power Lunch.” I had the Parmesan Pork Brodo, Braised Lamb Mac & Cheese and the dessert.
The soup came out a tad too hot for me – almost to the point of scalding my tongue and burning my fingers as I adjusted the bowl – no warning at all from server. It had decent flavor, but I would have liked more than two very (operative word) small pork meatballs.
The braised lamb M & C was, however, very good. I don’t know if RPT will see this, but she should give it a try soon. I’m not an expert on M & C, but I’d say it’s the best I’ve had in some time.
I’d like it if they just got rid of the funky four cubes of dessert though. It’s very anticlimactic after a good meal.
The meal in itself was on par with those I’ve had in the past and it’s still a great bargain. I would not have, based on this experience, done anything with “the arrows.”
I’ve never agreed with the concept that a chef deserves time to get his “sea legs” before rendering a critique. Are potential customers supposed to hold off making a reservation until they get a high sign from the restaurant?? Who exactly is going to decide the appropriate (or fair) amount of time required before passing judgement? If FD had a bad meal, he had a bad meal. Broken sauces are hardly indicative of a recent arrival, are they?
Also mcz, don’t bully Piazza Italia! I love that place! : )
I completely disagree. I find the arrows useful. Given how much time FD already puts into the site, I’m all for whatever makes it easiest for him to keep me informed of his latest experiences. If you don’t like the arrows, you can simply ignore them.
Food Dude says
I eat out six nights a week. If I had to put a comment after every meal, it would be insane. I have to say, the arrows are the number one generator of positive comments on the site. If you don’t like them, just don’t read them.
RE: Aladdin, the meals there vary wildly. It was really good, got really mediocre, then really good again. Then I went back twice in the past 30 days. The first meal was just fair, with some very overcooked meat. Then I went again about a week ago. Service was incredibly bad, and the food really wasn’t very good. That makes two meals that were significantly worse than my review, hence the down arrow.
Ten 01 was one mediocre lunch with several meh sandwiches, one really lousy dinner, and one not so great bar experience. That’s 3 meals that varied significantly from my reviews.
If either one of those places get better, I’ll change the arrows.
Sad One says
My husband and I are in Portland on vacation. Based on your “restaurant of the year” report, we went to Ten 01 last night. Mr.(?) Dude, with all due respect, I have to take issue with your review. If this is the best restaurant in Portland, I am afraid of what we will find during the rest of our vacation. The service was excellent, but the food was nothing better than average, and not worth the big price. You should try dining in a few other cities before you lavish such praise on a restaurant like this one.
While I’m at it, time to put to rest the “Ten-01 has gone badly downhill” stuff that appeared on this site within two weeks of the new chef, Benjamin Parks, taking over the Ten-01 kitchen.
I held my fire on this until after at least a half dozen visits, but can now say with confidence that Parks’ menu and execution show great thought, finesse and quality and I continue to recommend Ten-01 to all those food enthusiasts who rely on this site for restaurant news and recommendations. About the worst thing you can say is that Parks is not former chef Jack Yoss–which isn’t a terribly helpful observation.
Stylistically and in terms of personality, Parks and Yoss are as different as night and day. And, frankly, that has been Parks’ biggest problem. Yoss had a unique ability to combine fine dining elements with basic ingredients and so appeal to the broadest possible audience. Yoss also had a leadership style in the kitchen that built the kind of loyalty among his staff that you don’t want to be the one to follow.
So, Parks had a daunting task walking into that kitchen, all the moreso when he changed over to his own menu early in the game. I’m sure that accounted for any shakiness that might have shown right after he started. But things have clearly settled down to a fine standard.
Parks has begun to build his own kitchen cadre as Yoss’s loyalists have chosen to move on. The new sous chef, up from Napa (his name eludes me), began a couple weeks ago. Pastry wiz Kristen Murray is said to be consulting with Jeff McCarthy (the Ten-01 pastry chef) and the desserts are showing some new spark. A fresh blackberry float the other night was a grand slam.
Parks’ food emphasizes the baseline local, seasonal approach we take for granted in Portland, but the dishes now tend toward greater visual appeal and subtlety in flavoring than, for example, Yoss’s signature Thai-style ribs (which I adored but were about as muscular and direct a dish as you are ever going to get from a fine dining kitchen). By contrast, Parks’ pea soup with nasturtium petals is as gorgeous and delicate as it is delicious. Likewise, the chicken liver mousse is a miracle potion at once rich and remarkably light–essentially a super-whipped liver ganache. My god, I crave it–especially in the bar menu version that comes with house-made potato chips. Another example: the lavender duck breast. Skin had that perfect golden crunch with the barest whisper of lavender flavor and aroma. Any more lavender and the dish resembles your grandmother’s hand soap. As served, just right. The duck was also perfectly cooked to mid-rare as it should be.
Did I mention that Parks is just possibly one of the nicest guys I have met who happens to run a major local kitchen? Gentle in manner, quick to smile and compendiously knowledgeable on culinary matters, he’s a pleasure to chat with about food or anything else for that matter. He’s also fanatically well-organized, constantly jotting notes on ingredients, purveyors and preparations in a little book he seems always to have at his side.
So, if I had to compare Parks and Yoss by analogy (in a manner, I’m afraid, only those north of 40 are likely to understand), I would say that the contrast is in the nature of Jerry Garcia (subtle, complex, reserved) versus Pete Townshend (brash, bold and straightforward).
Thx, Food Dude, for letting me steal a little space on your site to diverge from your earlier assessment. I thought the two down arrows were harsh when you posted them and am now certain they are unwarranted. Naturally, you will want to see for yourself.
Allow me to gently disagree with you a bit, mcz. We were just there very recently, anxious to try out Chef Parks’ cuisine. We were big fans of Ten-01 when Jack was at the helm and went there on many occasions. I’d have to say that we were a bit disappointed. It certainly was far from bad, but definitely below the standard we’d become accustomed to there. I would have to agree with your assessment of the pea soup. Beautiful to the eye and the palate. My wife was not quite as enthusiastic, picking up a bit of a chalky texture that she didn’t much care for. We also had a heirloom tomato gazpacho which was quite nice… not awesome, but nice.
For our entree, we selected day boat scallops. They were very well prepared (cooked just right, well seared), however, the ceci sauce was very uninspired IMHO. Not much flavor, very rich… but seemed almost a bit floury for lack of a better term. I basically tried a little and skipped the rest. The scallops came with fresh squash sauteed in butter. Nicely prepared and simple. Also oyster mushrooms — properly cooked, but not as flavorful as I would have liked. Seemed sort of bland to my palate. We ended up with a selection of cheeses. Pretty hard to screw that up and we appreciated the nice variety we had to choose from.
Overall, it just felt that the dinner lacked inspiration… that something special that we got used to with Chef Yoss. I realize it’s perhaps a bit unfair to compare the two chefs, but it’s hard not to do. Jack left some pretty big shoes to fill. Service, BTW, remains excellent. Our server did a very good job as did the assistant sommelier (who was standing in for Erica that evening).
I guess if it were me rating the restaurant now, I’d be giving it a single downward arrow, indicating that it’s not quite up to the quality of the previous regime. I thought FD’s rating might have a been a bit harsh. We’ll definitely go back again. It has promise… but I would have hoped for a bit more. I really wish I could share your enthusiasm for the place.
Lur Kerr says
First mczlaw tells you that you will be sure to give Tabla a good review (in advance of your review!) and now he tells you that you need to change your ratings? Feeling a bit entitled, are we? If I wanted to read mczlaw’s blog, I would, that is, if he had one, rather than just using yours to hop into bed with his favorite chef of the week/month/year.
Umm, duh. It’s a food blog site. Last time I checked, anyone was entitled to state their opinion here, regardless whether they have their own blog, articles in the Oregonian, or anything else for that matter. You can disagree all you want (as I just did in a separate posting), but there’s no questioning whether he’s entitled to his opinion and to state it here IMHO.
No time for my own blog, LK. Once in a while I like to throw out an opinion – based on repeated trials and illustrated with examples – on restaurants I know pretty well. More often, I don’t participate in the blog world these days [content removed]. Hey, but thanks for chiming in.
I would mention that I have eaten at 1001 three times in the past couple of weeks after a bit of a hiatus. You should go back. The food has changed for the better. The beef carpaccio, grilled octopus, butter lettuce salad, lamb shank, chorizo burger and a couple of different soups have all been better conceived and prepared than anything I had under the last head chef. The change of the guard is new but quite promising. I would re-think the double down arrows at this point. Even a quick trip to the bar for the casual fare would re-assure you IMO.