Lincoln Restaurant | Portland, OR
Jenn Louis, November's Featured Chef with The FareTrade, is the chef/owner of two fantastic + delicious restaurants in Portland, OR with her husband David - Sunshine Tavern + Lincoln. We had the pleasure of dining at Lincoln during our visit to Portland to meet with Chef Louis and were continually blown-away by the nuanced, seasonal + approachable flavors that her kitchen is putting out.
There is a saying in the culinary world that simple dishes are often the most difficult to execute. In each dish at Chef Louis' restaurant, dinners can sense the dedication and craftsmanship that goes into each plate. Every ingredient in a dish is there for a purpose...to combine with the other flavors on the dish to create a memorable (and satiating) offering. Lincoln Restaurant makes artistic dishes seem effortless.
The menu at Lincoln features both small + large plates, allowing patrons to decide between sharing multiple plates amongst themselves (as we often tend to do) or enjoy a more traditional, appetizer and entree, meal.
But before we get too far ahead of ourselves - the cocktail program at Lincoln is spectacular. As you may have noticed from her feature with The FareTrade, Chef Louis is a fan of crafting cocktails herself, and she knows what she's doing.
We opted for The Berlioni Cocktail - essentially a Negroni featuring Cynar (a bitter italian liqueur made from artichoke) as a replacement for the Campari found in a traditional Negroni. Balancing sweet + bitter flavors, this is a cocktail we plan on introducing into our regular repertoire.
Exemplifying the seasonality of Lincoln's menu are the Calabrese Peppers - a special for the evening - straight from the local farmers market. Now, we are a fan of spicy food here at The FareTrade - and one might think if a restaurant is going to serve a plate full of peppers they would lean more towards the milder side - but these peppers blew us away (in the best way). Lightly fried in oil and tossed with fresh herbs, crunchy sea salt and a lemon wedge, these peppers pack serious heat. We found them to be a great accompaniment to the overall meal and left them on the table to nibble throughout the courses to come.
A staple at Lincoln Restaurant is their Octopus. One of our favorite ingredients, Octopus can be one of the most difficult to prepare correctly. The execution of Lincoln's octopus itself is bar-none the best we have had the pleasure of tasting. The accoutrements with the octopus changes based on available ingredients (sensing a theme here) and ours was paired with giardiniera + Tonnato. A traditional creamy Italian sauce (generally mayonnaise based) Tonnato is prepared with anchovies, tuna, capers and lemon. The creamy, tart and citrus flavors of the Tonnato combine especially well with the crunchy, slightly spicy profile of the giardiniera to elevate the star of the dish, the perfectly cooked cephalopod.
A special treat from the kitchen: Bruschetta, Mustard Seeds + Poached Egg. Another nightly special which perfect portrays Lincoln Restaurant's dedication to local and seasonal ingredients, this dish was full of flavor - from the richness of the egg, acidic sweetness from the especially fresh tomatoes, a slight spice from the whole mustard seeds and greens to add freshness + cut through it all.
For the truly adventurous, this dish is a home-run. Lamb Heart Tartar, Vadouvan + Egg Yolk. If you like lamb, then you will love lamb heart. Exemplifying the unique and satisfying flavor that lamb is known for, the mixture of vadouvan and egg yolk complements this dish perfectly. Add in a nibble of pepper (or the calabrese from earlier) to cut through the richness between bites of succulent meat.
Our last course capped the meal on a high note and left us clamoring for more. Spaccatelli, Smoked Tallow, Speck, Sherry. While most create a simple pasta sauce with butter, Lincoln uses smoked tallow (essentially fat drippings from smoked meat) sourced from a local BBQ joint in Portland. Combined with the speck and a slight acidity from the sherry + a kick from fresh black pepper and this is one beast of a pasta plate. Of course it doesn't hurt that Chef Louis makes all of her pasta's in house + she is a master of her craft.
If you ever find yourself in Portland - or Oregon in general - we highly recommend making booking a table at Lincoln Restaurant for a meal that you will not soon forget.