Ten 01 was on our list of places to try while in Portland, but our schedule was so packed that neither Keith nor I thought we would be able to swing by. Things changed though: earlier in the week we had eaten at Sel Gris; Chef Daniel Mondok and his great staff suggested we check out the food at the ultra-modern restaurant in the Pearl. Since we couldn’t figure out how to rearrange our agenda — what with bridal showers, bachelorette parties, visits to relatives, sleepovers and a wedding — we made a happy hour pit stop with Arjon, Marcella and Sarah.
Arjon and Sarah are vegetarians who, after years of strict adherence, are slowly beginning to incorporate meat into their diets in order to make dining while traveling abroad easier. While they both were interested in trying some meat dishes, the one plate the five of us all agreed on ordering was the truffled fries ($4.00 during happy hour, $8.00 otherwise). This was not my first foray into the world of fries seasoned with truffle oil; I had eaten them most recently at Boston’s Kingston Station. I must say it’s a good thing I had eaten Ten 01’s fries second, as they have set a new standard for me. Served with white truffle oil, minced herbs, a mustard aiöli and more ketchup, these were completely indulgent. I think it was a mistake on the server’s behalf, placing this directly in front of where I was seated, as I sincerely doubt anyone else was able to eat even half as much as I did.
As an unabashed omnivore, I had to satisfy my curiosity and order the beef short rib mac and cheese ($5.00 during happy hour, $10.00 otherwise). On several occasions I’ve had lobster mac and cheese, but never have I eaten it with meat. I wasn’t sure what I would think of it; after all, and not that it is comparable in any way, I don’t even like cheesesteaks; I’m not quite certain why I felt so inclined to try this. I’m glad I did — the short ribs went surprisingly well with the aged Cheddar and Parmesan cheeses, and I loved the fact that the kitchen used torchio. It gave the dish a look that was different than the standard elbow pasta, but not so different as to look out-of-place in this updated version of traditional comfort food.
To round out the meal, we also got a few oysters: one each for Arjon, Keith, Marcella and myself ($1.00 each during happy hour, $2.50 each otherwise). These were the prettiest oysters I’ve seen, but not so pretty that I wasn’t able to slide mine down my throat. It was pure and briny decadence, especially when combined with my cocktail: the Pele, a concoction of tequila, rhubarb, orange blossom water and honey ($9.00). Sweet and delicious, it was far more intense than its blushing pink color would have me originally believe… until I took a sip. One of these iced glasses was all I needed to make me very happy indeed.
I’m so glad we were able to squeeze in happy hour at Ten 01, though in one regard it was a bad decision. For the rest of our few meals in Portland, Keith and I kept on trying to get back for a proper meal. Since it didn’t happen, I wouldn’t be surprised if the restaurant became our first stop on any future trips to the city.
1001 NW Couch Street
Portland, Oregon 97209