Words and images by Katie Acheff
Last Sunday night brought a very special double seating of Portland Food Adventures at Le Pigeon, a longtime staple of Portland fine dining, headed by Chef Gabriel Rucker. With one seating at 5pm and one at 8pm, I showed up near the end of the first seating to catch some of the adventurers finishing up the last of six courses served tonight.
Le Pigeon is a great example of using space wisely, and is known partly for the open kitchen with seats around the bar to watch the chefs in action. Because of the volume of our party, they had to prepare most of our courses in the downstairs kitchen, but allowed us the opportunity to go downstairs and watch them in action. This was a really cool opportunity to get some true behind the scenes of how their restaurant works.
I snuck down with some other adventurers as the final course, a foie gras profiterole and Persian lime tart, was being plated (but more on that later). One of them was particularly excited to get to pose with Chef Gabriel!
Our host and founder of Portland Food Adventures, Chris Angelus, finished up with gift certificates to some Portland hot spots like ClarkLewis and PaaDee, as Chef Gabe came out to personally thank the attendees. We even got treated to some special visitors, Chef Gabe’s wife and son (below).
It wasn’t long before the first course was brought out, a hamachi collar nicoise. Chris Angelus took the opportunity to introduce our chef for the evening and talk a bit about the process of setting up this event at Le Pigeon.
Shortly after was course two, a Romaine salad with bottarga butter vinaigrette, peppercorns and Parmesan. It was a real treat to have Chef Gabe preface almost every course with a bit of a backstory. In this case he mentioned that this wine pairing, the salad with an Extro Gredic Vineyard ’10 Quattro Mani, was his favorite pairing of the night.
We also were lucky to have Brent, (above, left) one of the servers, give us great explanations of every wine paired. As the chefs fired up the gnocchi on the open stove we were treated to a bit of front-of-house cooking.
The third course was a chicken ‘gnocchi’ paired with a Rotie Cellars Marsanne. This was one of my favorite courses, with the acidity of the lemon juice elevating the flavors to create a rich, powerful taste.
I followed some more adventurers to check out the plating going on downstairs for our 5th course. One thing I really loved about this PFA is how open, professional and genuinely happy the entire staff of Le Pigeon seemed to be. The servers were like a well-oiled machine, gracefully maneuvering around the very small dining room and always very gracious. Heading downstairs to see the kitchen staff rocking out to “Will Smith radio” while preparing our amazingly gourmet food was one of my favorite moments as well. Chef Gabriel made sure to talk with us as much as possible and maintained a strong presence throughout the night. All of the staff were real, accessible, and seemed just as excited to have us there as we were to be there. Can’t get much better than that!
Our next course was prepared beautifully, a sausage stuffed pork loin with creamed leeks, chili vinaigrette, and sourdough bread pudding. The pork loin was perfectly balanced with the kick of the chili, and Chef Gabriel mentioned this being another one of his favorite wine pairings.
Chris came back to start wrapping up another amazing PFA. Coincidentally, him and Chef Gabriel share the same birthday this month on the 29th, and Chris presented the California native chef with a personalized San Francisco Giants jersey! Such a fun moment, and a great way to end the night.
We also got our final course, an unbelievable dessert combo I previously mentioned, the Persian lime tart and foie gras profiterole. Paired with Coteaux du Layon from the Loire Valley, the sweetness of the late harvest of the grapes was a perfect complement. The profiterole particularly stood out, as my limited palette has never experience foie gras used in a dessert. Absolutely incredible, and probably one of my favorite desserts of all the PFA’s I’ve been to.
Chef Gabriel returned for a final round with us, talking a bit about the gift certificates tonight which included Ava Gene’s, Clyde Common, and Heart Roasters (as well as ClarkLewis and PaaDee given out in the first seating). He mentioned really appreciating Clyde Common for its market driven menu, and enjoying Ava Gene’s San Francisco-like ambiance.
Such an amazing night! Big thanks to the wonderful staff at Le Pigeon, Chef Gabriel Rucker, our host Chris Angelus, and all the wonderful attendees for a beautiful evening.
Also check out upcoming Portland Food Aventures! Coming up:
Thanks again! Until next time!