Graduation dinners. The last chance you get to fleece your parents and well-wishing family members out of every dime you can. I’ll spare you on the rhetoric, and get down to cases.
I wrote to an acquaintance of mine, the venerable Jim Dixon (a.k.a the only food writer in Portland worth reading. Yes Roger, that includes you) and this is what he sent me:
Gotham Building Tavern (ripe’s new spot, open next week, reservations online at ripepdx.com, I think)
Navarre (a little more casual)
Genoa (for the serious eater)
Caprial’s (close to Reed, too)
Gino’s (good and big quantities, and I know that appeals to the post-grad)
Rivers (in the Avalon Hotel, or whatever it’s called now, off Macadam…Rollie Weisen is very good)
Basta’s (a perennially overlooked favorite)
Jim’s hasty e-mail is full of good recommendations, but short on descriptors. For some descriptions, lets turn to the equally venerable Lindsey West:
Higgins is very good and has delicious local northwesty food but is probably not a good place to take your family for graduation if you have rowdy relatives and or small children in the group. It does have good vegetarian options though.
Portland City Grill-
Portland City Grill offers a fantastic view of Portland and really good drinks (helpful for family visits) The food is good but not good enough for how much it costs and the ambience, while elegant is fairly bland. One of my friends, who works at another restaurant in town said they hire hot girls to sit in the lobby to attract customers. If this is true i missed them. Not so much for vegetarians since they focus on steak and seafood.
I really like Southpark. They have wonderful seafood and a really cool space. It is more casual (in that yuppie kind of way) than higgins and would be fine for rowdy relatives or small children, not so good for vegetarians, although I think they do have options.
Rivers is right on the edge of the west side of the river and looks onto Ross island. Their food is very good and all local and organicky. They have a 12 person semi-private dining room for big groups and the service is really friendly. It is also attached to the Avalon hotel and spa, which parents might be excited about.
I (we’re back to the gastronaut here) wholeheartedly endorse all these recommendations. All of these places take reservations for large groups, however many of the smaller ones will turn you down if you have a Mormon sized extended family (unless you want to rent the whole joint- it’s not unheard of). Many families have strange eaters, funky needs, etc. so I’m offering my services case by case. If you need help picking a spot, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll give advice.
on another note, i’d like to thank you readers and the Quest for hosting my column all year. It has been a truly strange experience to have readers for my diatribes- I hope i’ve done a wisp of good for someone, somewhere, somehow. If not, fuck it. I had a good time. Eat well, live well, and love each other.
make sure you tip well, I may well be making your food.