For our latest dining adventure, A. and I decided to go to St. Jack restaurant for dinner. I’d been there before for lunch and was really looking forward to dinner. We both agree this was the best meal we’ve had together since we started our dining adventures more than a year ago.
The decor is simple but I love the lighting, which is a mixture of low electric lights and candles. But they’re not just ordinary candles; they’re mountains of white wax made from the drippings of melted candles. I’m not describing this very well but the effect of the lighting was very flattering, both to the food and to les femmes d’un certain âge.
I started with a glass of sparkling wine and A. started with a white wine. The server’s suggestions were spot on. My bubbly was not too sweet, but more of an aperitif.
The menu was a delight to read – simple Lyonnaise dishes, not too many choices, and good descriptions of each. One of the specials of the day was beef heart, which our waiter assured us was tender and delicious; I was tempted to be adventurous, but ended up ordering from the menu.
For our appetizers, I chose frog leg’s persillade, and A. chose the salade Lyonnaise frisée, one of her favorites. It had plenty of bacon lardons, and bacon fat croutons, balanced with curly endive. She really liked it.
I had only eaten frog’s legs once before, as a child. I don’t recall much about them except I was tricked into eating them. (Dad!!) This might be my new favorite food. They were dipped in flour and gently sauteed, and served en persillade, a parsley lemon sauce. They were served over potatoes, or rather, a potato puree. (I’m sure there’s a name for it but it’s eluding me at the moment.) I could have ordered a second helping for my entree – they were that delicious. The meat was succulent and juicy with just the right amount of tartness from the persillade. The potatoes balanced the lemony parsley sauce perfectly. Scrumptious.
For our entrees, A. ordered the fisherman’s stew and I ordered the gratin de macaroni Gruyère, cheddar, Rogue blue, and bacon. We both ordered a house red wine but I don’t remember what it was – I was too focused on the food. The wine was very good, and our entrees were delicious. My macaroni was incredibly rich and flavorful and perfect for a cool autumn day.
The servers were friendly, efficient, unobtrusive, and knowledgeable. The vibe is informal, not fancy. This would be called a “bouchon” in Lyon, where they serve traditional, hearty food. Now I just need to try out their happy hour and some of their interesting drinks. How one resist “The Guillotine?”
St. Jack, 2039 SE Clinton, Portland, 503-360-1281