Stationed at the western tip of the Hawthorne Bridge, venerable VQ's space is as warm and inviting as its menu. The dining room meanders through an autumn palette, past exposed brick and large windows. The menu wanders through France and the Mediterranean, and finally through Oregon farmland. The result is dishes like the roasted wild mushroom and baby spinach salad dressed in buttermilk blue cheese and pancetta vinaigrette, rich and indulgent (and blurring the definition of a salad). Four plump diver scallops arrive in pool of sweet corn and butter, with an aromatic hit of fennel. VQ treats the orthodox New York strip unorthodoxically with tomatillo sauce and vibrantly veined Swiss chard. Desserts are similarly tweaked and improved, like the banana split with caramelized bananas and sweet cream ice cream. Servers are attentive and professional, and deserve bonus points for traversing the restaurant's multiple stairways. For a taste of Portland Nirvana, sit in the loft and watch the rain caress the windows between courses.
Crispy eggplant and heirloom tomato stack, diver scallops with buttery corn and fennel sauce, banana split.
ETHAN SMITH. 1220 SW 1st Ave. 227-7342. www.veritablequandary.com/ Map