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May 2nd, 2012 MARTIN CIZMAR | Food Reviews & Stories
 

Requiem for a View

Amadeus Manor has the best view in town

dish-amadeus_3826VISUAL EXPERIENCE: Dining at Amadeus Manor. - IMAGE: nataliebehring.com

People have stopped looking up in restaurants. We’re so busy Instagramming our plates, or poring over our meal’s backstory, that a great view seems superfluous. People now chat excitedly about a chef’s preferred oven; no one looks out the window.

Amadeus Manor is a throwback to when a night out was an altogether different affair. With a cellar of dusty wine bottles and heavy European cuisine, it’s an old-fashioned vision of elegance. But the Milwaukie restaurant has perhaps the best view in town, a stunning look down at boats docked along the lazy Willamette and the West Hills in full blossom. The Wells Fargo Center, the state’s tallest building, peeks out from a piney bluff, marking the distance downriver to the cramped communal benches of trendier neighborhoods.

In this old stone mansion filled with yellowed books and violin concertos from its namesake composer, the cookware is the kitchen staff’s concern and a grown woman reminds her date that she doesn’t eat mushrooms or tomatoes.

The view, though, is incredible. Arriving without reservations after being baffled by the restaurant’s answering machine, we were prepared to settle for an interior table away from the 20-foot picture windows. Luckily, only four couples supped at the massive stone mansion on a Tuesday night, so the view was ours.

Service is slow but friendly—it’s just the proprietress, an Austrian expat who carries two full wine glasses in one hand and a basket of warm bread in the other. She’s been doing this since 1994, when she took over this mansion, built during the Great Depression and converted into a restaurant by a Swiss chef in the 1960s. She’s prodded to dote on pictures of a baby left home by a young couple on their first date since the infant’s birth, and dutifully complies.

Those curious about these four stories of stone might be scared off by the lack of prices on the online menu. They’re not so outrageous as to require concealment. An appetizer of brie en croute, an old-timey recipe for cheese baked in phyllo dough served with a salad of pineapple and melon, runs $9.95. I’d skip it and the dinner salad—which also comes with fruit and the giant flower garnishes that find their way onto most plates—and instead opt for the warm wilted spinach salad ($8.95) with salty bacon and a rich shallot dressing, the best offering of the night.

The main courses include your grandparents’ favorites, items like beef stroganoff ($29.95), chicken cordon bleu ($23.95) and pork Leopold ($19.95) that have slipped from menus over the past 30 years. Portions are massive. I struggled to finish the meat and cabbage of the Austrian sampler ($25.95) and gave up, leaving half a juicy bratwurst, several forkfuls of caraway-heavy sauerkraut and half a salty ham steak on the plate. Nothing except the sausage was exceptionally good, but nothing suffered from obvious lack of attention, either.

For dessert, we ordered bananas Foster. At first, I was disappointed that it was served chilled instead of being flambéed tableside as it typically was back when station wagons lined up outside places like this. Instead of a rum-fueled show, we ate a fancy ice cream sundae and watched the sun dip behind the hills. The view gone, the check was welcome.

  • Order this: The wilted spinach salad ($8.95) and Austrian sampler ($25.95).
  • I’ll pass: On any table not near a window.

EAT: Amadeus Manor, 2122 SE Sparrow St., Milwaukie, 659-1735, amadeusmanor.com. 4:30 pm-close Tuesday-Saturday. $$$.

 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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