Vitaly Paley's place helped define early on what Portland's restaurants would eventually be known for—local, fresh, seasonal food, attentive to each individual ingredient, served in a Continental style adventurously adapted to its surroundings. Almost alone among Northwest cuisine's pioneers, Paley remains the same chef at the same restaurant—that little old house on Northwest 21st Avenue—that has never once faltered. He's confident enough that his Parisian "Maison de Qualité" plaque is hung jokingly in the bathroom. The steak tartare is still here, so too the sweetbreads and pork belly, but the restaurant evolves its menu day by day to suit the season—a recent summer standout was chilled Washington oysters with an achingly delicate apple-mint mignonette. Paley's Place is simply a testament to true epicureanism, which never meant excess but rather a light and salutary sensuousness. As the receipts say, "Peace. Love. Foie Gras."
Order this: Any soup, chilled oysters, the sweetbreads and pork belly.
Best deal: If this is your worry, don't even think about it. Even the half-portions nuzzle $20.
I'll pass: $6 french fries.