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#41 ExtraMSG

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Posted 06 September 2010 - 12:30 PM

Welcome Hillerns.

It's not just Seattle, but Vancouver and San Francisco, too. We're the only one of the big cities up the Pacific NW without a good seafood culture. Of course, we're the only one not truly on the ocean, though. But again, people aren't even willing to pay for good sushi here, and that's relatively hip and trendy in Portland. But if you commit yourself to only using sustainable fish as defined by some Californians, have a kobe burger and a big selection of cocktails, well, then, you can be full even if you offer mediocre sushi.
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#42 PortlandFoodAdventures

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Posted 06 September 2010 - 12:33 PM

Enjoyed revisiting FIN through your words and pictures, Nick.

I think FIN is refreshing in so many ways. I sincerely hope it gets some traction, and thrives. There's nothing quite like it in Portland. Aesthetically and presentation-wise, it feels to me like the Ardea in the South Waterfront (just went to look at condos yesterday). Attention to luxurious detail, and excellent execution. The salad and the scallop dish with the 60-Minute egg were as wonderful as anything I've eaten in Portland in a while. And the service was friendly and professional.

Looking forward to my next visit back.
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#43 singingpig

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Posted 06 September 2010 - 12:54 PM


It's a carrot, probably 'Purple Haze', or'Deep Purple"

http://www.johnnysee...t/icon/2737.jpg

Purple carrots are the best eating, IMO. Very complex almost herbal flavor with good sweetness.


I have had "black carrots" elsewhere. Do you have any info on those?


'Black' carrots on a menu are probably purple carrots. Here is some info on black carrots courtesy of the carrot museum :lol: and a link:

Black Carrots contain anthocyanins, part of the flavonoid family with antioxidant properties. Flavonoids are currently under investigation as anticancer compounds, as free radical scavengers in living systems, as well as inhibitors of LDL (the bad) cholesterol and the black carrot anthocyanins are especially active.
It has anti-bacterial and anti-fungicidal properties and oil made from its seed can help control scalp itchiness and provides essential nutrients for hair growth. The ancient black carrot has been making a comeback, not so much for culinary purposes but as a source of natural food colorants. These originate from Turkey, and the Middle and Far East.

http://www.carrotmus...o.uk/today.html


black carrot cross section
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purple carrot cross sections:

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There is a purple carrot variety 'Black Knight' and one called 'Indigo'

#44 Flynn

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Posted 06 September 2010 - 04:14 PM

Agreed. And people are willing to pay $10 for rice rolled around an ounce or two of mediocre fish deep-fried and drowning in mayo, but apparently $15 for 3 or 4 ounces of quality fish expertly prepared is outrageous.

I mostly agree, but there's some interesting exceptions to this. Couch St Fish House was open for, how long? 13 years? And survived well into the embezzlement years when it was being financially raped. Winterborne was open for awhile. Southpark is a PDX veteran at this point and has $26 salmon and $28 halibut. And as noted, people pay the bucks for seafood done up by any of the noted Portland places (Le Pigeon, Toro Bravo, etc etc).

But what's most interesting is the McCormick's/Jake model. People were paying $18-$32 for fish dinners well before they opened their army of meh. Their model also worked back in the 80s in southern cal, when it was called Seafood Broiler. I gotta say, I'd like to see this replicated in a non-mediocre chain format. Almost entirely seafood focused with a fresh list, simply prepared, quality sides, classic 'steakhouse' style apps/sides, maybe a tower of seafood, raw bar. Kinda like Eastern Standard in Boston. This obviously can be done in Portland and you can get people to pay $20+ for fish entrees if you do it right. This'll work here, whereas I highly doubt Le Bernardin will.

#45 ExtraMSG

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Posted 06 September 2010 - 05:08 PM

Fair point, Flynn. I'd love to see a sales by menu item report from Jake's. Just because it's a "seafood" restaurant doesn't mean half the items going out of the kitchen aren't steaks. ;-)

But even assuming Jake's sells a shitload of fish, as you say, this and the others mentioned are exceptions. Vancouver, Seattle, and San Francisco just have a lot more seafood at all levels of restaurants, plus markets with a hell of a lot more variety than what we have here. I mean, I love Newman's, but compared to the fish markets they have in Seattle, Vancouver, or San Francisco?

The thing I really appreciate about Fin is that the menu is seafood top to bottom. And while it may be closer to Le Bernardin in approach (although I'd say it has more interesting/vibrant flavors, but LB was pretty blah to me), it's a HELL of a lot cheaper. I think I paid about $150 for my meal at LB compared to $35 at Fin. And I wore shorts at Fin, not a fucking jacket and tie.
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#46 pwillen1

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Posted 06 September 2010 - 05:34 PM

There's definitely a niche here that I'd love for portland to be able to support.
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#47 craig

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Posted 06 September 2010 - 09:02 PM

Been watching for a bit. I'm convinced. I'll spend some money there. That picture and description of the ceviche is enough for me to try it. Maybe some marlin too unless something seasonal captures my eye.

I like their aesthetics -- I love an artful presentation.
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#48 Flynn

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 09:57 AM

Fair point, Flynn. I'd love to see a sales by menu item report from Jake's. Just because it's a "seafood" restaurant doesn't mean half the items going out of the kitchen aren't steaks. ;-)

But even assuming Jake's sells a shitload of fish, as you say, this and the others mentioned are exceptions. Vancouver, Seattle, and San Francisco just have a lot more seafood at all levels of restaurants, plus markets with a hell of a lot more variety than what we have here. I mean, I love Newman's, but compared to the fish markets they have in Seattle, Vancouver, or San Francisco?

The thing I really appreciate about Fin is that the menu is seafood top to bottom. And while it may be closer to Le Bernardin in approach (although I'd say it has more interesting/vibrant flavors, but LB was pretty blah to me), it's a HELL of a lot cheaper. I think I paid about $150 for my meal at LB compared to $35 at Fin. And I wore shorts at Fin, not a fucking jacket and tie.

I'm not a fan of Le Bernardin either. Obviously, you couldn't hit its price point here. But I'm talking more about stylistic differences. I'm thinking Portland will pay for a 'steakhouse style' seafood place, sort of like the raw bar/McCormick's concept. Hopefully Fin will prosper. I gotta get in there and throw in my dollar's worth.

We truly do suck when it comes to seafood markets. I always laugh at the tiny cabinet-sized case that most New Seasons allocate for seafood. Other than Newman's, Whole Foods has a big selection...that nobody can afford. I mostly buy at Uwajimaya or the eastside Asian markets. It's pretty bleak.

#49 Jamesongrrl

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 11:36 AM

The other discussions aside -
I'm glad that ExtraMSG had the opportunity to go. (I may have just missed you as I was there on Sunday evening again.)
I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed the meal and saw the potential I did.
(Too bad you didn't try the oyster shooter with roe, urchin and quail egg. :drool: )

I think this is a great seafood restaurant at a moderate price. Yes, it might be a little more expensive than some other restaurants but I think the quality of the food, and style, easily surpass most other seafood restaurants in Portland.
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#50 joeleatspdx

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 08:10 PM

So I went Friday night, 7:30 with my wife and a friend. Only 2 other tables occupied (either Nick was in the other window table or the waitstaff is wearing the same clothes night after night), but it did pick up around 8:00.

We enjoyed it thoroughly, although I did invoke the "precious" word. However, it was in the context of what I thought others might say, not really our opinion. My friend had an observation that she thought it wouldn't last because "any restaurant that has to explain the concept of their menu won't last". That being said, we loved the concept of the menu. Disposes of the idea of appetizer, salad, entree. More like tapas. Lended to a very leisurely meal.

We had ceviche, salmon, sea urchin to start, followed by the butterfish (agree with Zuke, flavors worked well), the vegetable plate, and the seafood gnocchi. 2 desserts, 3 cocktails & bottle of wine. All in all pretty reasonably priced. Only disappointment was they were out of the txakolina that would have gone very nicely with all of their dishes.

One final props to Israel Morales, the manager/sommelier who tended our table. He was excellent. Had a great answer to our question as to why he left Chicago: "Strawberries. Chicago strawberries suck."
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#51 ExtraMSG

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Posted 17 September 2010 - 05:40 PM

We enjoyed it thoroughly, although I did invoke the "precious" word. However, it was in the context of what I thought others might say, not really our opinion. My friend had an observation that she thought it wouldn't last because "any restaurant that has to explain the concept of their menu won't last". That being said, we loved the concept of the menu. Disposes of the idea of appetizer, salad, entree. More like tapas. Lended to a very leisurely meal.


That seems like a fair point about the menu. The column titles are a bit too clever for something that's supposed to just be functional and help the diner. I'm not even sure if they truly need to explain the whole "whet", "wade", "plunge" thing. I'm sure there are always people who have to have things explained to them, but it should be somewhat obvious from the pricing and item descriptions. It's probably enough on people's first visit to say, "The menu consists of small plates with items increasing in size from left to right on the menu. We recommend two to three dishes per person."

One final props to Israel Morales, the manager/sommelier who tended our table. He was excellent. Had a great answer to our question as to why he left Chicago: "Strawberries. Chicago strawberries suck."


Although, the ones in Michigan rival those in Oregon.





PS: Hid the rumoring and what descended from it.
The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole & Kenny & Zuke's

#52 ExtraMSG

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Posted 17 September 2010 - 06:11 PM

Got a chance to visit Fin again the other night. Tried a whole new set of dishes.

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Started with the barracuda sashimi. Apparently this stuff can be dangerous, especially if from the Caribbean, but this was from Hawaii. Regardless, I really enjoyed it. The fish itself was firm, moist, and mildly sweet. It rested on konbu to give it a little ocean flavor and was topped with preserved lemon and trout roe. My dining companion found the preserved lemon overpowering, but I liked the clean, citrusy finish it gave to the bites.

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We both really enjoyed the spicy octopus wrapped in marlin with yuzu tombiko. Great one bite blend of flavors. Tender octopus, subtle citrus, meaty marlin. Just a little scallion/onion for a little sharpness.

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Perhaps the favorite dish of the night was the seafood turn on spaghetti and meatballs. Tender, surprisingly light fishballs were smothered in a sweet and earthy tomato sauce deepened with umami and rounded with chile spice. The spaghetti was a squid ink pasta, I believe, and the whole dish was garnished with nori strips, bonito flakes, and bottarga. We scraped every lost drop of sauce from the bowl with the bread from Little T. This is a bold dish that doesn't hide its seafood nature at all. Actually, it reminded me a lot of Mexican albondigas de pescado dishes but with some Asian accents.

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Next up was the sauteed snapper with miso cream sauce, figs, scallion, and padron peppers. The fish was cooked fantastically. Really great, crusty sear on the skin side, but still moist on the inside. I liked the combination of mildly sweet cooked figs with the harsher onion and chile flavors. It was a dark fruity sweetness balancing the sharper flavors of the peppers and alliums along with their "green" sweetness. The miso added a little earthiness.

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The scallops were a miss. They were seared, served with guanciale, clams, 60 minute yolk, crisp potato, white miso butter, and house-made sriracha. Arguably too much going on, but I think more, that things just weren't balanced properly and because it was a bit deconstructed there wasn't the opportunity for the chef to make sure that everything was in balance. Make that dish just an egg thickened sauce with the guanciale, miso butter, and sriracha for the scallops and maybe it would work, assume the chef put the flavors together in the proper proportion. But as it was, it came across muddled.

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The albacore worked much better. The grilled fish was still juicy, slightly pink inside. A little salad garnished the fish, but the real flavoring came from drops of jalapeno pesto and ponzu emulsion, some richness from olive oil. The spicy jalapeno and citrusy ponzu worked great together and it didn't take any effort to make a balanced bite complementing the fish. The albacore held up well to the strong flavors.

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Again the desserts suffered. The chocolate dish consisted of two scoops of mousse, appearing almost like ice cream. The dark chocolate was too intense, too fudgy, and there was too much of it. The milk chocolate was better. The overly tart huckleberries weren't a true match for the chocolate, especially the dark chocolate. And I still don't "get" these crumbles -- in this case hazelnut. Too much deconstruction not serving the dish.

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The milk and cookies was better, though still had some issues. The "milk" was a vanilla ice milk, like an unsweetened or mildly sweet granita with an abundance of liquid. It was fine for dipping the cookies, though I'm not sure eating the granita was truly enjoyable on its own and didn't really go with the cookies. Some of the cookies were pretty good, but the green pistachio cookies were excessively hard and the chocolate filled cookie was much too bulky.

Still, very, very promising. I'm fine with them having dishes that don't work here and there as long as most of the dishes work as well as they have so far. Especially with it being small plates. However, they do need to do something about desserts.
The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

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#53 Calabrese

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Posted 19 September 2010 - 08:37 AM

Last night was date night and I thought FIN would be a nice precursor to a TBA performance.

The menu has been changed a bit. The pretension has been toned down. The sections represent single bites, small plates, and mains now.

My date had the spicy octopus app (single bite). I had the shooter (oyster with roe, wasabi, and quail egg). I did not like the raw quail egg in the shooter. It ruined the clean taste I like in shooters. Don't regret trying it though.

For small plates, my date had the snapper ceviche. I had a small taste, even avoiding the strand of heated spice it will too much for me. She thought it was her favorite dish. I had the salmon tartare. I liked this dish a lot. A mix of raw and smoked salmon with tobiko, a light, creamy wasabi sauce, green apples, and microgreens.

For mains, she had the scallops sitting a ponzu sauce with drops of cilantro pesto. She thought the scallops were perfectly cooked. I could not try any of this. I had the pork belly with surf clams. This was by far my favorite dish of the evening. The play between flavors and textures was outstanding and the broth was excellent.

She had a glass of chardonnay and I had the fizzy lifting drink (which is a great twist on a champagne cocktail), followed by a glass of cava.

Service was attentive and friendly.

I surely will be back.

#54 ExtraMSG

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 06:48 AM

http://www.oregonliv...9/six_pack.html

Portland sits at the confluence of two mighty rivers, only 80 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Yummy, water-borne critters surround us. There should be great seafood restaurants here, but there are none. Instead, the same handful of halibut and salmon standards populate area menus with the mind-numbing sameness of a New Age chant. Fin is a sincere, if still unsteady, effort to chuck the old playbook and lead the program in a bold new direction. Ensconced in the compact space that was formerly Sel Gris, Fin is limited by its seating capacity and a market that tends to emphasize price over value -- a problem when working with seafood, which costs a lot and spoils quickly. Nevertheless, the Fin crew is dedicated to a small- and medium-plate menu in which every major element is plucked from the depths, then offered in an ensemble priced between $10 and $20. Major kudos are due for creativity in presentation and the courage to subvert the dominant paradigm. Improvement from one early visit to a second was discernible and impressive.


My wife wants me to note that she thought Michael's critique of their booth fabric was ridiculous.
The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole & Kenny & Zuke's

#55 ExtraMSG

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 11:58 PM

http://www.portlandm...ent?oid=2898310

A dinner at FIN begins with these guidelines: The menu changes regularly, plates are meant to be shared and will arrive at whim, the top half of the menu is raw, the bottom half is cooked. Then, maybe you're told the special, drink orders are taken, and your bathysphere is un-moored.

FIN is all about fish. A meal here is a plunge into a piscine paradise, except all of the sea creatures are fresh-dead and transformed into a kind of briny edible art by Chef Trent Pierce and crew. It's as if the cast of The Little Mermaid had met a perfect end in the open kitchen, and while you may find that image off-putting, rest happy knowing it's okay to eat fish because they don't have any feelings. (Thank you, professor Cobain.)

The restaurant approaches fish with care and honor. Every dish hitting the table feels full of intention. On the whole, that intention means a delicious meal. Yes, there are some hiccups, but not enough to ruin the experience.


The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole & Kenny & Zuke's

#56 ExtraMSG

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 01:07 PM

http://www.portlandf.../19/review-fin/

Dining at Fin is an experience, not just a meal. You know you’re in the hands of a chef who has thought seriously about his craft, and whose art is sculptural as well as gastronomical. After three visits and several repeats of items, I tired of nothing, and could hardly wait to introduce many of these dishes to friends. One of the pleasures here is to see how, from night to night, the kitchen slightly alters the ingredients in a given dish. Call this piscatory practice “switch and bait,” for once you fish in Fin’s waters it’s you who will be hooked.


Porter gives it a perfect A, which is definitely too high from my experiences there. I can't help but think, reading this review, that it highlights the differences in palate between Food Dude and Porter. I think if FD had reviewed it, I would be complaining he under-rated it. eg, the ceviche, to me, is just on the edge of being over-kill, but still succeeds. I think it would be too much for Food Dude. For Porter, it's the best raw dish.
The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole & Kenny & Zuke's

#57 FINPDX

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 07:50 AM

We are changing our hours of operation starting Tuesday the 26th. We will be open TUESDAY through SATURDAY. Please spread the word and thank you for your patronage.

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#58 pyrofemme

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 12:51 PM

Looks like there's another daily coupon website, haven't heard of it before but their offer today is for FIN. $25 for $50 worth of Seafood and Drink at Fin Restaurant
http://mobons.com/deals.php

#59 lhollers

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 01:54 PM

Looks like there's another daily coupon website, haven't heard of it before but their offer today is for FIN. $25 for $50 worth of Seafood and Drink at Fin Restaurant
http://mobons.com/deals.php


Awesome, pyrofemme - thanks for this link! The gf and I had a great dinner at FIN a few nights ago; tried a substantial portion of the menu and some good wines and cocktails... I spoke briefly with Chef Pierce, who mentioned that he was in the process of trying to put together a tasting menu of some sort - perfect timing for picking up a $50 coupon for $25... :shifty:

#60 ExtraMSG

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 11:04 AM

Split out the discussion of whether Mobons is secure, legit, etc, to the shopping section.
The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole & Kenny & Zuke's