It's ironic that one of the few things I can correctly pronounce after seven years of French, le peejon, is irrelevant when it comes to this popular PDX communal dining spot. Yes, as wry as the nerd glasses and handlebar mustaches hipsters have taken to sporting, the pronunciation of luh pidjin is as American as hot dogs and baseball.
I started this post last month and got sidetracked, which is what happens when I blog with a glass of wine in hand. But Christmas morning I awoke to an email from our dear friends Kara and Ryan, former PDX residents now living in China. They'd managed to escape to Thailand--and the liberation of uncensored internet access--for a little holiday and had come upon our posting about Simpatica Dining Hall, a spot they initially introduced us to. They were not about to mince their words: "Cheaters, Cheaters, Cheaters" the subject line read. How could we possibly dine at Simpatica without them?
Let me say for the record, Simpatica sans Kara and Ryan was nowhere near as lovely as it is with our two incredible friends, whom we miss greatly. And so in the hope that reading about another of their favorite spots, Le Pigeon, will encourage Kara and Ryan to join us for a PDX dining reunion in 2010, I am going to finally finish this post. Kids, pack your bags...
Ricotta Gnocchi - $13
We were one bottle of sparkling wine in by the time we ordered, so somehow my fixation on the words "ricotta" and "gnocchi" strayed me from seeing the subsequent "goat." Nonetheless, I powered through this one, impressed with the creaminess the ricotta contributed to the gnocchi.
Beef Cheek Bourguignon - $21
Braised to the color of night and glazed with a rich broth J's hearty French favorite was sweet and tender.
Brussels Sprout Strudel - $19
Le Pigeon's dinner menu changes weekly, and is definitely meat heavy, but vegetarians can always find an option. This strudel, set atop mushrooms and a rather thin butternut squash puree, was packed with brussels sprouts but a bit on the light side for me.
Apricot Cornbread with Bacon and Maple Ice Cream - $7
If you can have just one course at Le Pigeon, I recommend heading right for the dessert menu, scrawled on a chalkboard above the communal dining table. The smokey, savory cornbread with little nibs of apricot baked in is a standard, along with foie gras profiteroles that cause extremists to run into the restaurant drenched in fake blood and screaming obscenities. A seasonal carrot cake was also on the menu board this particular evening, but we went right for the cornbread as it reminds us of Kara and Ryan, who first convinced me that bacon does have a place on a dessert menu.
738 E Burnside Street
Portland, OR 97232