April 2016 | view this story as a .pdf
All Good In The Woodford ‘Hood
Delicious food and a friendly neighborhood vibe transform a landmark intersection.
Review by Diane Hudson
Having long been nonplussed by the mid-century-mod “chalet” smack dab in the middle of Woodford’s Corner, we are amazed to be driving toward a beautifully lit jewel box inside which graceful figures appear to be dancing.
Inside Woodford Food & Beverage, the magic continues. Streetlights and headlights flicker through semi-closed Venetian blinds, creating an ecstasy of colors as cars float silently by, while vinyl records spin joyfully on a turntable at the hostess station–this place rocks!
Roasted beet salad ($9)–with the freshest tangy mixed greens and tender, juicy beets–is garnished with goat cheese mousse, a divinely frothy affair. It’s all enhanced by the textures and tastes of pistachios and dried cherries.
Although one could easily order some splendid smaller dishes to make up a meal–roasted oysters (market), mussels and fries ($11), stuffed clams ($6), classic deviled eggs ($8)–we go full monty. Braised Pork Shank ($21) is falling-off-the-bone wonderful, set on top of a brilliantly crafted white bean stew with luscious baby carrots, rosemary, thyme, caramelized onions, bacon, and braised greens. Plenty to takeaway home.
The star of the evening, though, is the Stuffed Lobster ($24)! This classic, prepared by chef Courtney Loreg (Fore Street, Bresca, Aurora Provisions) is a charming nod to bygone Portland restaurateur Donald Valle, whose Valle’s steak-and-lobster chain got its start at this very spot in 1933. But Loreg’s rendition–poached whole lobster accompanied by celery root puree, roasted tomatoes, toasted challah, and a stunning dollop of duchess potatoes–brings a new level of sophistication. It’s a dream dish, presently available only on Wednesdays as the plat du jour.
Desserts, too, are a cut above ($8). Memories are made of such things as a bowlful of creamy vanilla panna cotta sporting cranberry coulis and white-pepper shortbread cookies–or a piping hot brownie topped with local Little Bee’s ice cream, caramel, and praline pecans.
This crossroads destination is truly a bright new gem.
Woodford Food & Beverage, 660 Forest Ave., Portland. Sun, Mon, Wed. & Thurs., 5-10 p.m. ; Fri & Sat., 5-11 p.m. woodfordfb.com, 200-8503.