A visit to Coquine is like traveling to a vacationers' town in the center of Portland. High up in the tree-canopied, winding streets of Tabor, the little bistro may as well be up in the French countryside near where chef Katy Millard learned to cook from Michelin-starred chefs.
Get the whole chicken ($40 and enough for two or three to share), which is moist, tender and spiced with Moroccan flavors served on a bed of bulgur and lightly charred trees of broccoli.
The rest of the dinner menu is both more delicate and more uneven, a tour of light flavors that ranges far from French fare. Entrees include a classic strip steak ($32) punctuated by wasabi, and a tender fillet of black cod ($25) atop airy white beans and sofrito—a dish light enough that the novelty of the ice plant was a distraction I left to the side of the plate.
A heartening number of the appetizers are inexpensive, encouraging sampling. Three slices of fried green tomato ($5) are a burst of tartness beneath corn breading, made rich by an anchovy-dill sauce. And thickly complex bread topped with the characteristic sour tang of house-cultured butter—one of very few in town—is $3, while the pane fritto ($4) is an upscale version of frybread served up in Bugle-sized bits, blanketed with rosemary-spiked lardo and shards of radicchio remarkably free of bitterness.
Pro tip: Get at least one of the fresh-fruit cocktails. A tequila, black cherry and egg white drink will be one of my favorites this year.
GO: 6839 SE Belmont St., 384-2483, coquinepdx.com. 5-10 pm Wednesday-Sunday;
limited cafe menu 8 am-3 pm daily. $$-$$$.