Hey, my fiancee and i both work in the service industry. She's on the foodie side of the biz and scored us a free dinner at fenouil tonight (tuesday) for their pre-official opening tomorrow. It was basically a bunch of local pdx restauranteurs and such testing out the place. Which is kind of annoying if you're like me and don't know anything about how the sancerre pairs with the manilla clams. And i don't.
Anyway, Fenouil opens tomorrow and i think it's probably the most architecturally unique dining space in the city. I believe they originally planned to open before this last summer, and when you get in there you'll see why: the entire place was designed for dining al fresco because half of the walls are actually glass doors that open up to Jamison Square. The tables are kind of close together, but the space and layout of the place is conducive to a pleasant sense of intimacy.
I had a great time tonight, and i think you'll have a great time if you go there, too. But i want to point out a few less-than-perfect things you should expect if you choose to visit. Keep in mind that this place is brand new so some of these are just a little nitpicky. Firstly, if you order a glass of wine at the bar, your bartender should not need you to physically point at the wine list to indicate which glass of wine you're talking about. Along the same lines, your server shouldn't have to ask you to point at the menu to clarify your order; moreover, your server shouldn't have to apologize for the bar never having heard of the bottle of wine you ordered. Thus, the ten minute wait. Again, they haven't even offically opened yet, so these people haven't had a chance to learn every detail about their menu quite yet.
The food was, well, good. After a rough start which was a mache porcini salad with lavender vinaigrette that seemed a little unblanaced to my tastes, we were served a gratifying plate of grilled asparagus that was simply dressed with olive oil, salt and pepper and shaved parmagiano. The crab salad had a citrus zest to it that seemed a bit feeble, but when taken as a whole with the avocado and the corn madeleine along with the tabikko roe garnish, it almost worked.
During the time it took me to figure out what i was gonna say about all of the appetizers, my water glass was filled three times and my napkin was replaced at least twice. I like that. Any restaurant that has a support staff to back up their servers is okay with me.
Best part about the whole deal was the entrees. We had the black cod (which isn't really a cod, by the way. Look it up!) and the fromage blanc and onion "tart." I put that in quotes because it was actually on a pizza-like crust. I've never eaten a fish that flaked so perfectly off the fork. It wasn't over- or under-done, it was perfect. The onion tart was also very nicely prepared, but my fiancee swears she would have caramelized the onions. She's kinda like that sometimes. Always like, "Caramelize this," and "Caramelize that," and so on. Man, i wish she would just chill out about that sometimes.
So anyway, i had a fun night at Fenouil tonight. And at some point they're gonna figure out that their dessert prices are about 200% too low. That was the perfect little praline profiterole, and they're about a buck fifty. Get it while you can.