Portland, February 13, 2011—WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE to do for dinner, our last dinner together in Portland this trip? Well, why not steak-frites, one of the great bistro staples, surely one of the Hundred Plates? After all, Portland's a meat city; there must be a good steak in town.
So off we went to a Toro Bravo spinoff L. and I hadn't been to yet, up on North Williams — another of seemingly dozens of uptrending local hangout streets. Dark, noisy, convivial. My steak was a little more cooked than the rare I'd ordered, and salty as Captain Haddock; but it lay under a nice little mound of herb butter, and the fries were pretty good. I liked my butter-lettuce salad with Green Goddess dressing, though fried shallots struck an irrelevant note scattered on top.
On reflection, Toro Bravo, which I like, and Tasty N Sons, its stepson, seem to me to be for a younger crowd than we now represent. At 75 my tolerance for both noise and rich food have diminished. There were, let's see, nine of us at table; conversation was nearly impossible. And that night came a hell of a thirst: that food was salty. It's not one of my Hundred Restaurants, but I'd go back, early in the evening when things are a little quieter.
Syrah• Tasty N Sons, 3808 North Williams Ave., Portland, OR; tel. (503) 621-1400