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December 24th, 2003 KELLY CLARKE | Bite Club
 

Ring-a-Ding Dinner

     
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Whether you're spending tomorrow's holiday clutched tight to the familial bosom or patting your contented stomach in remembrance of last week's latkes, most of you merry revelers aren't practicing your rendition of "Auld Lang Syne" just yet.

Well, start crooning: Bite Club's got a few ideas to spruce up your New Year's Eve. Then again, if you want to stay home watching TBS's Lethal Weapon movie marathon, drinking Coors Light and playing foosball--fine by us. We're going out.

Many restaurants in town offer special menus for the holiday, so why not fill your belly before sipping the spirits? For example, Fratelli (1230 NW Hoyt St., 241-8800) is dishing out Italian comfort food in three- and four-course dinners for around $30 to $70 (call for seating times and prices).

Across the river, the Mediterranean small-plater Tabla (200 NE 28th Ave., 238-3777) will offer a five-course dinner for $50. Seatings (5:30 and 8:30 pm) include a free glass of champagne. Or go mass romantica at Il Piatto (2348 SE Ankeny St., 236-4997). The Southeast Portland trattoria is serving live tableside opera performances with its special three- and four-course Italian meals for $60 to $70.

For an all-inclusive New Year's bacchanal, Bite Club raises its glass to Northeast Portland's Grolla (2930 NE Killingsworth St., 493-9521). The restaurant is throwing an "intimate" three-course prime-rib dinner blowout featuring a belly dancer, magic show and jazz band for cheek-to-cheek dancing throughout the evening--as well as a full open bar all night long for $125 per person. The bash's price tag even includes a full 1 am breakfast buffet to assuage your New Year hangover. Wow.

These restaurants still have table space as of press time. But to nab prime holiday real estate, you'll want to call these hot spots or your own favorite party place quickly, .

Or skip dinner and go straight to the bubbly. Vigne (417 NW 10th Ave., 295-9536) is staying open late--until 2 am--to pour a dozen fancy champagnes by the glass, including heavy hitters like a 1990 Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill. Bonus: Owner Brian Martin says he might even cart out ye old turntable and spin some tunes.

Now Bite Club knows some may prefer to ring in 2004 at a friend's soiree instead of venturing out. So we called up our main vine man, Bruce Bauer, owner of Vino (1226 SE Lexington St., 235-8545) to get juiced on some stylish, cheapish party wines.

Bauer says that Muscato d'Asti ($11-$15), a lightly sparking semi-sweet French wine, is a brown bagger's dream. "It's low-alcohol, so you can consume a lot without getting wasted," he says. "You'll have staying power throughout the night." For a sharable New Year's quaff, he suggests a magnum of the earthy 2001 Thomas Pinot Noir ($65), "the most Burgundian of the Oregon pinots."

As for that all-important midnight toast? "French champagne. Accept no substitutes," Bauer says. He recommends a non-vintage Beaumont des Crayères ($26.95). "It tastes as good as some of the more well-known bottles that cost a hell of a lot more."

Ah, cheap and easy--just like the Bite Club likes our men and our parties.


Fill up when Mount Tabor Fine Wines (4316 SE Hawthorne St., 235-4444. 4-7:30 pm Friday, Dec. 26. $15) presents Friday's Greatest Hits--a sippable round of six of the most popular wines from the shop's 2003 Friday tasting series.
 
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