Restaurant Guide 2013: Noisette

1937 NW 23rd Place, 719-4599,

[NORTHWEST GENTILITY] Portland's commitment to keeping it casual leaves little space for crisp, white tablecloths. At Noisette, not only are the tables decked out, but there is white leather furniture, fine art on the walls and carpet on the floor. It's a stylish spot, a perfect place to take someone dear for a fine meal and quiet conversation. Chef Tony Demes' plates aren't the feats of vertical engineering he once presented at Couvron in the heady days of the late 1990s, but they are still carefully composed and a visual and culinary joy to behold. Neither is Demes beholden to the multicourse processional as he once was. Instead diners can order small plates to suit individual appetites or go with a seven-course tasting menu ($85) that ends with a cloud-light dessert soufflé ($10 a la carte). Recent soufflé choices chocolate and strawberry were reason enough to visit. Local ingredients abound on the menu, but they are not the focus. Delicate butter-poached lobster is always on offer, as is a plate matching local and imported beef. This is genteel dining. Don't figure to walk out groaning from excess; do count on a feeling of well-orchestrated bliss.

Ideal meal: Though not required, the tasting menu best showcases the chef's formidable skills and range of offerings.

Best deal: If you time it right, duck in late for a soufflé and coffee or Steven Smith tea.

Pro tip: Three stools at the counter adjacent to the kitchen offer free dinner theater for solos and small groups.

5-10 pm Tuesday-Saturday. $$$-$$$$.


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