Portland dining is rife with places you can wear your plaid shirt and tattered jeans while eating amazing cuisine. But what if you are headed to the opera or having a big night on the town and would like to dine in a place that oozed clubby elegance (while still not having a dress code)? Step into the historic Ladd Carriage House and the Raven & Rose for "classic cookery and fine cocktails."
Elizabeth Rose and I stopped in to use our Portland Food Adventures certificates after an afternoon at the Portland Art Museum. Without a reservation on a Saturday evening, at 5 pm the only seating was at the bar. This was perfect.
In fact, the bar chairs were luxuriously upholstered in leather and sidled up to a bar where those fine cocktails were being crafted.
The Ladd Carriage House was formerly the stables for the Ladd mansion, which is now gone. It's one of the few English Stick style buildings left from its era. The charm made it a set for an episode of Grimm. Inside and outside they have carriage lanterns for lighting. You can see the chefs at work on a wood-fired hearth.
Our visit was at the changing of the guard as Chef David Padberg had departed and his replacement only recently announced, Chef Troy Furuta newly from Los Angeles. I don't know if his influence was yet felt on the menu, which changes daily to use what is fresh and in season. Previously, I enjoyed Padberg's cuisine at Farm to Fork events. He certainly knows how to bring out the best of local sustainably farmed meat and produce.
I started with the St. Croix Sling, a hot drink of Black Strap rum, ginger, honey, lemon juice and nutmeg. It was a perfect winter drink, and if you had a head cold it would be a perfect cure as well. Elizabeth had a glass of Northwest wine from Cana's Feast, whose wine club she belonged to.
The menu is divided into soup and salad, small plates, wood-fired specialties, and large plates. Be aware that it is driven by what the best products available are on any day. The sturgeon you saw last week may not be available this week. Savor one of the other offerings.
The soup of the evening was cauliflower and parsnip, and we both had it. It came drizzled with oil and a sprinkling of daintily chopped vegetables for a bit of crunch. I suspect the Oregon white truffle oil was used -- the real stuff, not the fake truffle oil that TV chefs disdain. The flavors were delicate yet complex and satisfying.
I opted for the wood-oven-roasted prawns, which were layered with Spanish chorizo in a caper and butter sauce. They were absolutely super.
Elizabeth had the beef short ribs with mashed potatoes, horseradish, braised greens and Yorkshire pudding. The meat was perfectly prepared. The potatoes weren't anything special, but it was a dish that would satisfy even a meat-and-potatoes diner.
The attention from the servers was very good, even as we were tucked into the short end of the bar where we might have been overlooked. I look forward to returning for more fine cocktails and small plates soon.