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Carafe Bistro


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#21 Amanda

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 07:01 AM

I, too, love Carafe and am sorry you had a less than optimal experience there. The only time I think I've gone on show night was for Happy Hour and I just had drinks. All other times I've eaten there for dinner have been absolutely stellar both service and food.

I hope you will give them another try when everything is not so rush and hustle. They really get slammed when the auditorium's got something going on. I'm surprised that even with the crowd and the poor service that the food wasn't up to par. Barely warm food is a real pet peeve of mine. Especially when you're paying big bucks. Maybe give them a chance to redeem themselves when the neighborhood is quieter over there and you will probably get great food and great service. At least I hope so.

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#22 sylvan

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 09:37 AM

I, too, love Carafe and am sorry you had a less than optimal experience there. The only time I think I've gone on show night was for Happy Hour and I just had drinks.


I've always had a good experience at Carafe, also. One thing though - they do not have Happy Hour on show nights. I've forgotten the details, but the happy hour food is really a good deal. But the last time we stopped in on the spur of the moment for the cheap burgers at HH, it turned out to be a show night and we found out they don't have the special prices then. Oh, well - dinner was fantastic as always, if a bit more money than we had planned on.

#23 Twitch

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Posted 24 March 2008 - 08:15 PM

Has anyone ever had:

SALADE GOURMANDE
farm greens, haricots verts, duck prosciutto, foie gras, truffle vinaigrette 13.50


I'm curious if it works and if the vinaigrette is more basic (oily) or acidic (vinegary).

#24 doglover

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Posted 24 March 2008 - 08:45 PM

Check out the cappuccino foie gras. It really works. pascal is having some fun in kitchen.

#25 katez0r

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Posted 15 June 2008 - 09:40 AM

We had dinner at Carafe on Friday night. I checked to make sure it wasn't a show night first. I didn't make reservations, so we just had a quick wait at the bar while they cleared off a table for us. Our server could tell that we're wine newbies, and offered assistance, but I was hankering for a rose, so we had a 1/2 L of something that I can't recall the name of, but was in the cork book on the table. We're lightweights, so it was the perfect amount for us, and went fine with the food we ordered. Which was:

Escargots with hazelnuts and garlic butter. It was seriously garlicky, and salty. We were a little nervous that we'd end up with these awful, chewy things, but they were tender and perfectly cooked. The hazelnuts added needed texture. Very good except for the over-salting.

Then we had English Pea Soup, which was served chilled, and poured table-side. It came with this crazy carrot mousse, which was quite sweet, but not cloying, and just tasted like pure carrot. It was awesome, the rest of the soup didn't do much for me, though. It was just a bit boring.

Our last appetizer was a Baby Romaine salad with a tarragon dressing, and shaved parm. Honestly, this was a rip-off, at $8.75. It was maybe a head and a half of baby romaine, and a couple little slices of radishes.

The high-light of our meal was the steak frites. The steak was perfectly cooked medium-rare, and I loved how it was plated on top of the fries, so they got all the juices. It came with a salad of frisee perfectly dressed in a lemon-viniagrette, which was delicious. So good, I want to eat it right now.

We decided that we still had a bit of room left, and had a brown butter cake studded with rhubarb for dessert. It just wasn't very good at all. It was tough, and dense, though the rhubarb was perfectly sweetened. It had a buttermilk ice cream on top, which had nice flavor, but was very, very icey. I've done better at home with this recipe. Occasionally, I'll read a restaurant review, and the person talks about how the dessert was so bad they didn't finish it, and I've always thought that was insane, but now I understand.

Service was very good, and polished. Total came to $70 before tip.

#26 Angelhair

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Posted 15 June 2008 - 02:46 PM

Nice write-up katezOr. Thanks.

#27 doglover

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Posted 15 June 2008 - 03:34 PM

We also happened to visit on Friday night. Pascal was there early, but wasn't in the kitchen and headed out early with a Bergstrom wine box under his arm. Must have had somewhere fun to go. ;)

My wife also had the Pea soup. It was really more of a bisque and we both thought it was quite good. Very delicate and the carrot mousse added character. She paired the soup with one of the salads which looked good.

I had my long standing favorite the Croque Madame which was as good as ever. Lately the frittes haven't been as good. This time they were greasy with too many small broken ones. I also had the foie gras. It was good, but fell short of the better versions I've had at Carafe. Last time we had a fois gras cappucinno which was really fun.

We chose the Eric Texier St. Gervais CDR with the meal. The wine list said 2004, but the 2005 was served to our delight.

Carafe like a lot of PDX restaurants has had a high turnover of pastry chefs. Too bad about your dessert. We skipped dessert on Friday so can't compare notes there.

#28 pb n foie

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Posted 19 August 2008 - 09:04 PM

Went into Carafe tonight knowing what I wanted, which was a Sweetbread entree. It's all I had and was fucking delicious.

The sweets were dredged in cornmeal before being sauteed until crisp. They were on top of some creamed corn with a crawfish sauce surrounding the plate. There were pieces of crawfish and some guanciale scattered around the plate as well. Holy shit this was good. It was my first time and I will definitely go back. They sent me out a dessert of cornmeal cake with blueberries and blueberry sauce. On top was some corn ice cream. It was tasty. The corn ice cream was the best part.

#29 salmonfly65

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Posted 29 September 2008 - 12:30 PM

Went over for lunch today as I'd not been there for a couple of months. The regular lamb burger is off the menu. That's fine because it never did replace the spicy lamb burger that they used to have occasionally before it was a regular menu item.

I tried the 1/2 soup/salad special today as they were out of what I headed over to sample, a pork shoulder sandwich. The sandwich was salami with white cheddar, lettuce, red pepper and mustard on ciabatta. It was a little underwhelming. The carrot and curry soup, however, was fantastic. Wish I had just ordered a bowl of this and skipped the sandwich.

I've always enjoyed Carafe (even when the service has been less than stellar), but was reminded today (by a couple sitting next to me) of one thing that I've just never understood - the restroom is not located in the restaurant. I just don't get that.

I called back to see how long they'd have the soup and was told "for a couple of days." I think it should join the regular menu.

#30 Angelhair

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Posted 29 September 2008 - 12:53 PM

I've always enjoyed Carafe (even when the service has been less than stellar), but was reminded today (by a couple sitting next to me) of one thing that I've just never understood - the restroom is not located in the restaurant.

That location was previously a kind of business/lunch spot if I am recalling correctly. It's a small space and I'd rather be able to get a table and go into the garage to the loo.

#31 ExtraMSG

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Posted 29 September 2008 - 02:13 PM

I'd like that better. There's nothing worse than worrying about bathroom noises next to a dining room or busy hallway.
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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#32 concreteoatmeal

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Posted 29 September 2008 - 03:33 PM

I'd like that better. There's nothing worse than worrying about bathroom noises next to a dining room or busy hallway.

well, given a low carb diet, bathroom noises for you must involve screaming and weeping these days? :P
"If you were expecting a kick in the groin, and you get a slap in the face.......thats a win where I come from"

#33 salmonfly65

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Posted 04 May 2009 - 12:23 PM

Went back to Carafe - not very busy at the bar or in the main seating area. I sat at the bar alone. I tried the soup special, a mushroom bisque, and the gnocchi with some French Vin de Pays Merlot from Domaine de Couron.

The soup had good texture and flavor - lots of visible mushroom bits. I didn't bother to ask what type of mushrooms were used, but I think some crumbled blue cheese would have been a nice touch and added a little bit more to it. The gnocchi was paired with chopped/sliced asparagus, bacon and goat cheese. I thought the gnocchi was undercooked - maybe they boil the potatoes rather than bake them. This had almost too much going on with it. I think the goat cheese overpowered the rest of the dish. I would have preferred some caramelized onions rather than the asparagus and/or cheese.

The menu says the Merlot is from the '06 vintage, but they are pouring the '07. Nice hints of espresso, mocha and dark fruit. A 1/4 L cost $6.50 - decent value.

I'll go back and support what they're doing despite the average meal. This is a place I want to remain viable.

#34 ExtraMSG

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 03:33 PM

Posted Image

Stopped in at Carafe the other day. Tried to go early, but Dreamgirls was showing that night at the Keller and there was barely more than an outside seat open.

Posted Image

Started with a ham confit terrine, served with grilled bread, cornichons, and two mustards. I like this as a change-up from the usual chunky pates around town. Really love the texture. It has all the sweet, cured flavor of ham, but while being thicker than your average ham slice has the advantage of being effectively more tender. Nice touch with the grilled bread, intensifying the its dark, earthy tones.

Posted Image

Got the burger with fries, of course. You get choice of four cheeses: blue, white cheddar, gruyere, or camembert. Camembert? Srsly? Hell, yeah. Best selection of cheeses for burgers I've seen. Also added bacon.

The fries were good, almost great. About 1/3rd of them had the perfect crispness. Even the soft ones tasted good, though, well-seasoned and lightly dusted with herbs. If he could get all the fries like the best third, he could give Potato Champion a run. There's a side of mayo/aioli for dipping.

Posted Image

Burger comes on a Ken's roll, seemed like ciabatta, dressed with aioli. Red onion, pickled carrots, and red leaf lettuce came on the side for topping the burger. Look at that camembert dripping down the side. Chunks of the rind added to the funkiness. The pools of cheese were great for dipping fries into.

Posted Image

Patty was a little more medium-well than medium, but still very juicy; the juices literally squirted out of the meat as I squeezed it to take a bite. They blend in herbs de provence and seasoning, which may have something to do with why the huge patty is denser than most. It's well-charred and well-seasoned and flavorful. Love the camembert. It's funky and assertive. I think most burgers couldn't hold up to it. Arguably this one doesn't either and most people might be better off with the blue or swiss. I loved it, though. The patty is thick enough, too, that it does still come through. The bacon, which they gave several slices of, emphasizes the meatiness. (The bacon could have been crisper.) Also, the pickled carrots help a lot. My only complaint was that two slices weren't enough. They only covered about half the burger. Perhaps if they swapped the raw red onion for pickled red onion that would be a good alternative. The red leaf lettuce is too delicate for this burger. I think some romaine hearts would be better here.

I suspect some people aren't going to like the ciabatta roll. However, like with Le Pigeon's burger, I think it's very appropriate here. This is a big, juicy burger with a lot of cheese. I didn't have a problem biting through the ciabatta and it wasn't crunchy on top so the roof of your mouth has nothing to worry about. It's a little chewy, but a soft bun would fall apart.
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

#35 Angelhair

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 03:45 PM

The proof is in the picture...you've settled the debate on the ciabatta bun for me. That looks so good...and I don't even like burgers.

#36 Adam

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 04:25 PM

I think Carafe's burger is one of the absolute best I've had in Portland, and at $4.95 during Happy Hour, a ridiculous deal. I could go for one right now and I just had dinner...

#37 jennifer

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Posted 22 April 2011 - 09:20 PM

Pascal Sauton has left Carafe.

From the O:

Pascal Sauton, the long-time chef at Carafe, is no longer with the bistro he opened near Keller Auditorium more than seven years ago. The restaurant remains open.

"I am sure this news will come to you as a surprise," he wrote, "but the reality is that it's time for me to seek new adventures and I am looking forward to it."

Sauton left Thursday, the restaurant confirmed.

In an email, Sauton thanked his employees who "worked very hard to make Carafe what it was." Sauton did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

The restaurant's staff was still adjusting to the chef's unexpected departure Friday. Manager Kristy Franklin said sous chef Brad Ryder has stepped up while the ownership group, Bistro 200 Llc, figures out what to do next.

The "about us" page on the restaurant's website still describes Carafe as the "new restaurant from the husband and wife team of Pascal Sauton and Julie Hunter." Sauton and Hunter divorced in 2010.

"It's so new that I'm not sure what I can say," Franklin said. "We're sad to see Pascal go. He was a loved, great chef."

"But we're moving ahead. It's business as usual here. We're still pumping out great food with great service."

-- Michael Russell



#38 ExtraMSG

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Posted 22 April 2011 - 09:33 PM

That may be the most unlikely chef-change I could think of, especially so suddenly. Is his wife there anymore?
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

#39 doglover

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Posted 22 April 2011 - 10:52 PM

That news just stinks. Carafe has been our most reliable standby for years -- and it was all Pascal. They'll probably do fine with the pre-Keller crowd, but those of us who supported Carafe because of Pascal will be dining at St Jack and Le Pigeon more often.

#40 gustoeater

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 08:37 AM

Most strange indeed. I always thought Carafe was chef-owned. He must have something up his sleeve.