My uncle and aunt came to visit last weekend, and I was tasked with finding a good restaurant to take them to. Being a poor college student, I realized that this was the perfect opportunity to have some nicer food than I would normally be able to afford, as well as to reap the benefits of having an aunt and uncle who are well versed foodies to help critique. I decided to take them to Veritable Quandary, a restaurant I had only heard of in passing. Like all other Portland Restaurants, they pride themselves on having fresh, local ingredients. They boast an interesting menu combining different styles of cuisine and an impressive selection of drinks.
Service is friendly and very knowledgeable. It was easy to navigate the menu with our server directing us towards good combinations of dishes and which flavor combinations were especially good. The atmosphere is a little pretentious, as the restaurant is quite small and there’s not a whole lot of noise all the time. Everything is fairly formal, but in the Portland way of being formal as a statement rather than being formal for the sake of it. It’s a small factor and is easy to overlook, especially considering how sunny the servers are. The formality might also just be because it is a bit on the pricey side and thus attracts people who can afford such a meal.
I assure you, if I had the money, I would come back all the time. The food was excellent. For our appetizers, we tried a pork belly confit and some bacon wrapped dates. The bacon wrapped dates were quite good, but nothing that I couldn’t do at home: in fact, I have done them at home fairly easily. The pork belly was everything I love about pork in a single bite. The crispy skin, perfectly juicy meat, and the rich pork fat made a delicious trio. It was treated simply, with an sweet apple reduction on the side that gave the pork a nice fruity compliment. It was a fun version of the traditional pork and apple sauce combo. I also tried the duck confit spring rolls, which were excellently packed with duck and veggies and had a delicious wasabi ginger sauce on the side. They were wonderfully rich and had some bold flavors playing with each other, like the wild mushrooms and the duck. The appetizers were all wonderful, and we didn’t have to wait too long before our main courses came out. I had picked the Osso Bucco, which was a wise choice: it was the best Osso Bucco I’ve ever had. It was served on a bed of basil risotto, which was the perfect creamy counterpoint to the rich sauce. The veal just fell apart and was packed with flavor. The richness of the dish was what really got to me, and as a result I could only finish half of it. The rest of the Osso Bucco was eaten the next day during my essay writing break. The flavors really melded together well, the nutty parmesan and the herby risotto with the deep, bold tomato sauce and the tender, juicy veal. The bone marrow was a special treat: they even provided a fork to dig out the marrow with.
It’s not your everyday price, but then again it’s not your everyday meal. There are a lot of really rich, bold flavors going on at Veritable Quandary, and they know how to put them together in the right ways to make a very soul-pleasing meal. So the fact that you’ll end up paying about $50 per head is more excusable, at least it is to me, because of the amazing food. This is not your modern fusion of interesting light flavors on small plates: these are big portions of deep, bold flavors. It’s high class, comforting food is the best way to put it, and it’s worth every penny.
Note: Apologies for the bad picture quality. I’m trying out different settings on my camera for getting better pictures of food in restaurants with dim lighting. As it turns out, the “scenery” setting is not good for taking pictures of food.