One of the originals in a wave of terroir-driven Portland eateries, Navarre feels less like a restaurant and more like the kitchen of a chef who's so excited about his housemade preserves, his tins of olive oil and paprika, his dried blades of pasta and his impressive roster of wines that he's made decor of them. This is fitting. Though chef John Taboada tilts toward the rustic country fare of France, Spain and Italy, his restaurant eschews the gospel of any particular style of cooking, instead proselytizing the integrity of great ingredients, which is the crux of all great gastronomical regions on Earth. With local trout broiled in parchment paper, the wonderfully addictive pickled turnips, morel-studded crab cakes that taste of tide and forest, a tender roasted chicken in a chunky pool of paprika pepper sauce, French radishes served raw and naked with sea salt and butter, and Navarre's legendary red velvet cake, a diner can do little wrong.
IDEAL MEAL: In terms of value, the $25 “We Choose” prix fixe meal is without equal in Portland. 10 NE 28th Ave. 232-3555.