Thursday, September 18, 2008

We'll Be Back

I've often glanced into Bistro Corlise on Wall St., having heard good things about the table they set, though we hadn't yet stepped in--until early last Friday evening, that is, when Mrs Elliott and I were lured in with a promise of a happy hour special consisting of a glass of either the red or white house wine and an appetizer for only $5.

Dinner hour hadn't started so we took a table on the sidewalk and I ordered a glass of the white and a haricovert (French green bean) salad.

My expectations were pretty low. I've never actually taken a house wine directly to the dump bucket, but I've also never had one that wasn't almost terrible.

Until now.

The wine was excellent! Our server explained that it was from Alain Brumont, one of France's most recognized wine producers. (For wine geeks, it comes from the Côte de Gascogne region in France and is a blend of Gros Manseng and Sauvignon Blanc.)

A few moments later, the salad arrived. Again, my expectations were not high--I mean, how good can a green bean salad be? Especially as part of a $5 deal that includes such a fine wine?

Amazingly good, it so happens. This was an an extremely tasty little salad! Emboldened, we ordered the cheese plate. Two little wedges of cheese and some small sliced figs arrived shortly.

The cheese had a deep, rich flavor, which revealed more of itself the longer I let the crumbs linger in my mouth. The figs were perfect: as sweet as dates, ripened to perfection, something wonderful drizzled over them. Everything paired beautifully with the wine.

I emailed Bistro Corlise's owner/chef Jason Logan the following day to get more details about what we had partaken, and he replied in part that,
[T]he salad during happy hour was a haricovert salad (French green bean) with sprout lentils (done here of course), a zucchini mousse, and a hazelnut emulsion. The cheese is a Cap e. Tout, which is a small chevre (goat milk) from Les Fermiers Basco Bernais, a co-op of farmers in the French Pyrenees Mountains. The cheeses are handmade on the farm according to a thousand-year-old-recipe. We served the cheese with golden figs marinated with a little Armagnac.
Wow. Find another happy hour appetizer that offers so much attention to detail and such quality ingredients in Bend for $5. Or maybe anywhere in Oregon, for that matter.

We were impressed. I've eaten in some fine restaurants and have had lovely French cuisine, both in France and in Tokyo (where you'll find some of the arguably best chefs in the world). Jason knows his stuff and I think that Bend is lucky to have him. I hope Bistro Corlise can survive the current economic downturn. With Jason's palate, I expect he'd be able to work his magic with locally-produced ingredients and possibly keep a working profit margin.

Next week the Highland Trio will be performing a selection of Beethoven and Dohnanyi pieces at the Tower Theater. A pre-show dinner at Bistro Corliese would be perfect. We'll be back.

(Note: Jack Elliott is not a restaurant reviewer nor has he ever played one on TV. Please forgive the amateur quality of this writeup.)

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