This is a much belated food review from our lovely Oregon trip back in August. Looking back, one dish really stood out among the numerous delicious things we had:
The Steak Tartare at Paley’s Place in Portland, OR.
I have had a few steak tartares since then, and have had several prior to Paley’s version, but none, none whatsoever come close to their version.
At first glance, it is quite a simple dish. Steak tartare is raw beef–ground into small chunks ranging from the fine grind you see at the grocery store in cellophane wrapped trays, to larger toothy chunks. But it is a deceptively simple dish, similar to sushi. Where indeed it is about the quality of the ingredients that make the flavors shine, but also the thoughtful and delicate way in which it is put together.
Here the tartare the grind was cut perfectly to do the texture and quality of the meat justice: not so finely ground that it felt mushy in any way, reminding one of babyfood— nor was it too large so that you felt you were gnawing on it–but just right (a la Goldilocks) where there was enough texture to appreciate the buttery clear sweet and rich beef flavor and elicit the intrinsic meat eater instinct. I wish I knew where they obtained the meat–the quality was amazing. There were not any stray extra chewy pieces mixed in with buttery smooth pieces (as I typically find at other places)–just consistently pleasing texture throughout.
Another kicker to this dish was the use of a big golden sphere of deliciousness that is duck egg yolk. It added a more complex yolkie flavor than typical chicken egg, bathing each morsel of meat in richness.
Served simply with diced onions, capers and finely chopped parsley–all perfect counterpoints to the rich tartare.