4537 SE Division St., 971-373-8264, woodsmantavern.com.
[GILDED LUNCH LADYLAND] Admit it.
You're confused. You've finally been seated. The Woodsman's space is
well-appointed, with all the hallmarks of a typical fine-dining
experience. There's red brick and dark wood everywhere and a
well-stocked bar, and the menu shows a $68 rib-eye. Then you notice the
corn dogs ($3) and side plates of beanie-weenie ($5) and deviled eggs
($2)? Did you get lost at some point and end up in some bizarro
parochial-school cafeteria/Lutheran picnic, and oh God, did you really
just order a $28 plate of meatloaf? Then the compressed watermelon salad
($11) arrives. And it's stunning, the melon infused with basil in the
compression process, the sweet red onion adding the barest heat and
tang. And you tuck into the whole roasted trout ($22), completely
deboned and swimming in acqua pazza, the clear, sweet tomato-and-herb
broth worthy on its own. And the meatloaf? Worth every penny of that
$28, beefy, fluffy, surely they must have used a panade but there's no
hint of it. And you finally realize this is one of the most grandly
Portland dining establishments in town and Sister Mary-Margaret isn't
lurking behind one of the curtains with a ruler to rap your knuckles for
putting your elbows on the table. And you relax. And order some fries
($4) with mayo and Sriracha for dessert.
Ideal meal: Anything + fries + whole roasted trout.
Best deal: BLT salad ($12).
Pro Tip: If you aren't interested in the entire domestic ham flight ($18), just focus on the Benton's ($8); it's got the best smoke-flavor profile.
5-10 pm daily, brunch 9 am-2 pm Saturday-Sunday. $$-$$$$.