Looking at my eating itinerary, I would have never guessed that lunch at Fenouil would be the best meal of the trip (along with brunch at Tasty n Sons). With my love of big, bold flavors, I was surprised to find myself appreciating the subtlety of Fenouil’s food – but that’s point of the experience. All of the dishes were executed perfectly. The succotash sang spring, the fries were captivatingly crisp, and the risotto creamy with the peas prominent. And the chicken? It’s a dish I’d never think of ordering, especially with an understated title of “Roasted Natural Chicken,” but this was the moistest white meat I’ve ever eaten, and the skin was expertly crisped, with the acidity of the artichokes and olives playing perfectly in the dish. As for dessert? The black pepper cheesecake was the best bite of the entire Portland trip, and of all my eating experiences in recent memory. Pastry Chef Kristen Murray sent out a list of ingredients (along with an invitation to return for a dessert tasting) that blew my mind, making me realize how she achieved the wonderful taste and texture of the dessert. These included sweet pea blossoms, thyme, wild rose petals, three kinds of mint (apple, pepper, and chocolate), lemon balm, and candied fennel – savory elements that contributed to a sweet ending of this amazing meal.
Succotash of spring vegetables, poached duck egg, grilled pain de mie, bacon and sherry vinaigrette
English pea risotto – carnaroli rice, parmigiano-reggiano, mascarpone
Roasted natural chicken with artichokes, olives, lemon-thyme pan jus
Black pepper cheesecake with three-nut crumble cookie and grapefrut sorbet (I’d run right back to Portland to try this again)
One of the dining areas – this one is open air without being outside