Portland >Food & Dining > Paley's Place
1204 NW 21st Ave, Portland, OR | Directions 9720945.531299 -122.694600
Mon-Thu 5:30pm-10pm; Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm, Sun 5pm-10pm
Neighborhoods: Neighbors West - Northwest, Northwest District
An oldie but a goodie. One of the first places I ate while visiting PDX nearly 20 years ago. And while my more recent visits may not be as fine as I remember back in the day it is still a lovely place to have a meal. The tasting menu is a good value as is the well priced happy hour ($2 - $9) offered daily 5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. Don't miss the oxtail, the oysters, the cassoulet or the seasonal fish.
Paley's Place, the oldest of Iron Chef Vitaly Paley's ventures (see also Imperial and Portland's Penny Diner), remains a romantic favorite for its dedication to excellence and cutting edge cuisine.
Vitaly Paley, one of the godfathers of the Portland restaurant scene, continues to quick away, quietly and masterfully, in this understated but refined restaurant, a favorite for birthdays and anniversaries.
Give a word association test to Portland diners and “date night” will immediately elicit “Paley’s” in 80-90 percent of respondents. (Okay, so that’s an unofficial estimate, but I’m pretty confident about it.) This is the spot to splash out on beef--the Wagyu tartare and New York strip steak are completely justified decadence.
A true Portland institution, Paley's is a must-try for any PDX foodie or visitor. Try the housemade charcuterie with a glass of Pinot Noir or the sweetbreads with artichoke hearts.
reservations about reservations – After reading all of the recent polarized, mixed reviews, I was anxious to try Paley's again to form my own opinion. I had eaten there years ago, and I found it OK, (B+, maybe three and a half stars). So, about a week ago, I made a reservation for tonight. Unfortunately, I just received a phone call from Paley's in which I was told "there's a lot going on at the time of your reservation, and we can't honor it. Can you come later in the evening?"
So, when I write a review of a restaurant in which I actually eat, perhaps I can comment on the quality of the food...
Great French Food – We had reserations for four with another couple who had dined there previously. I really enjoyed the food. I order the Escargot, beets, sauted gree, Lemon Verbena Ice Cream and a spectacular Lemon Drop. The Lemon Drop was very good. It competed with Jakes Lemon Drop that I love.
I would recommend this restaurant to anyone that enjoys French food.
The only draw back I had is that we sat near the cheese tray and every time the opened it up we go the aroma of cheese.
Hopelessly over-rated – Talk about disappointment of the first degree - we went to Paley's after we read this was one of the few AAA 5 Star rated eating establishments in Portland. AAA got is wrong in my opinion - not even close. Cramped tables, owners didn't even make an attempt at decent decor, extremely limited menu and, at best, ordinary food. We tried several apetizers, salads, and main plates.... I'm not that good of a cook and I can honestly wip a better meal from Trader Joe's. The service was exceptional, but I would like to have a bit more to show for the $180 we paid for a dinner for two.
First Review of Paley's Place – Have been meaning to try Paley's place for a LONG time, just hasn't worked out until last night. This review is as accurate and objective as it can be.
Seated right upon arrival, 10 mins. before our 6:00 PM
reservation. Everyone there greeted us with a smile and a great attitude. Loved the initial atmosphere, dark wood furniture, tables etc. and the spacing of the tables was perfect for their efficiency and our comfort (not too close).
Service was extremely attentive but not nagging, perfect mix in my opinion. My water level was never below half and you could tell that the staff worked as a team to ensure guests were taken care of.
Menu was just a bit confusing, but nothing that couldn't be figured out. My wife had the Borscht starter and I had the Organic Spinach salad. The Borscht is a cold starter soup made with beets and was refreshing and very good. The spinach salad was extremely fresh, ample and already had the dressing mixed in ... but at a perfect ratio.
My wife ordered the pork shoulder and I had the rib eye special that is only on Saturdays. Her pork is made to order and can take up to 45 mins. ... which the server mentioned. Bread came shortly after ordering and was refreshed quickly when we finished the first basket.
After the wait for the pork, which was perfectly acceptable, we got both entrees. Her pork was served with asparagus and a butter bean salad. Pork had great flavor and it was a nice mix with the bean salad and asparagus. The pork had a bit too much fat for her, but I thought it was fine and added to the flavor of the meat. My ribeye was good sized, marbled perfectly to the point where there was virtually nothing left when done and the flavor and the sauce were tremendous. It came with a few potatoes and a small mixed grill of a couple vegetables, inc. shallots (i think). It was great!
We also ordered a side of the braised greens. They did a perfect job of braising the greens to the point where they were hot, tasteful yet not soggy or overly wilted. Would have liked maybe a bit more, but it was enough considering the dinner. Great flavor.
For desert, wife had the creme brulee which is the biggest I've seen served. I had the chocolate souffle with vanilla-honey ice cream and hazelnuts. It was incredible. The souffle melted in my mouth and was still steaming in the inside, and was perfectly paired with the ice cream and hazelnuts. Both deserts were phenomenal ... thanks Lauren! ...as was the dinner!
The only thing that took away from the great atmosphere and service, was that there was obviously some well known individual that was sitting at the end of the bar. He was joined by another couple at the bar. The staff new him and many new him so maybe he was the owner or someone else of note. Either way, as our dinner progressed, the increasing decibels of the conversation aside, the constant dropping of F-bombs became an annoyance and really took away from the nice ambiance, music and service. It gave it a more sports or pool bar feeling.
I don't hold this against Paley's place unless it was the owner or someone involved with the restaurant as I would hope he would understand this detraction. If it was just some other regular, perhaps a reminder or calling attention to it may be in order. For diners though, I am sure this is just luck of the draw and not something to hold against the restaurant.
Can't wait to go again to see if the already great experience could even get even better. Nice job!!
Tried to like it but... – We were there for our wedding anniversary. (21 years :) ) My husband had champagne at the bar, I had a glass of white wine. Bartender and drinks were fantastic.
The night dissolved from there. They placed us under a spotlight, making me look awful-- I'm usually not that vain, but this light made me wince all night. They refused to adjust. My husband sweetbreads were awful and chewy, wine was terrible and my pasta was a soupy mess.
I understand that this is a NW institution, but I really don't want to back anytime soon.
Horrible experience – I'm sad to report that I'll no longer be coming to Paley's Place. This is one of my favorite restaurants in town, and I've always had a good experience during my many visits. Last night, my wife and son and I went to celebrate Mother's Day. After being seated and ordering a drink, it took 35 minutes for the drink to come. We enjoyed our appetizers and salads. We asked if the outdoor heater above us could be turned down and it was turned off. Apparently, one diner asked for it to be turned back on, so the heater was turned on again. The hostess came to our table and told us the heater was staying on and was very rude and aggressive about it, and very confrontational. 90 minutes after being seated, with no entrees still and sweating from the heater, we left cash on the table to cover what had come so far and just left. Even when I went inside to tell them we were leaving, I stood at the hostess station for 10 minutes waiting and no one showed up. And who has an outdoor heater turned on high when it's 71 degrees outside?
Consistent – I have eaten at Paley's now about 6 times over the past 3 years. Have never had a bad experience.
With the exception of popcorn in truffle oil served as an amuse bouche. Not that it was bad. Just didn't think it was so good.
It's pricey. I say very expensive. But if you're going out for a special occasion, it's a good bet.
On the downside, I'm pretty sure you have be over 70 to get in.
Impressed our SF visitors – We each had three courses with no dessert. Food was perfect temperature, delicious and very well presented with perfect portion sizes. Service was also outstanding. We moved here a year ago from SF and were entertaining foodies up for a visit. All agreed that it was the best meal we've had in Portland and in the top 3 for the whole year.
Glad I kept an open mind – I am not sure why there is such a rush of bad reviews recently about this place but I am glad I didn't let them sway me from going there. We met with some friends last night and I dont really have any complaints. The food is organic & sustainable #1 - there is going to be a higher cost for just the ingredients off the start. #2 - this is not your typical american "feed lot" restaurant. Food is ment to be enjoyed and savored not stuffed down your throat as fast as possible. From the time we were seated to the time we paid our bill around 2 1/2 hours had passed & I honesly never noticed the time. Each stage of the experience was timed well as to ensure that we were able to enjoy what we already had at the table without feeling rushed. We ordered a 3 cheese dish with 2 types of goat cheeses & 1 cow milk cheese - absolutely delicious. For the main course, I went out on a limb & for the first time in my life tried steak tartare. The presentation was appetizing and inviting & the flavor was not anything that I had expected. I read a bad review about someone who reccomended El Gaucho over this place - I have eaten at El Gaucho before & while the experience was incredible, the prices were literally double what we paid at Paley's Place. The main point however is that one doesn't even compare to the other. One (El Gaucho) is a premier steak house. Paley's Place is a testament to local organic food, sustainable grown/raised & delivered to the table in a gormet setting. Other complaints were about the portion sizes. Again - this is not a place to stuff yourself. Food is to be savored & enjoyed. Let me put it this way, I am 6'6", 250lbs and I wasn't hungry when we left. I wasn't overly stuffed mind you, but I was pleasantly content.
Expect it to be pricy, but we have easily spend more $$ just going for sushi or eating out at a fondue place. Dont let the reviews turn you away, give Paley's Place a chance!
Distasteful experience – I took in town guests to this restaurant. What a disappointment! Though the food was acceptable, the service was terrible. We waited a long time to order and when I asked the waitress for help, she make a snide remark and left us to continue waiting.
However, I won't make the mistake of coming to this restaurant again. I wrote a notice to the manager but did not get a satisfactory response. For the high price they charge for food, I should not be made to feel they are doing us a favor for having us.
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