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#1 Calabrese

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Posted 24 July 2005 - 08:07 PM

My dining partner and I went to Caprial's on Weds. night. The first thing I would say about this place is how very over-priced it is. Alba's is a far better value and the food and service are better.

The drinks at Caprial's are steeper than other places and they are average in my opinion.

When ordering our appetizers, I asked if the seafood won tons contained sea scallops and the waiter said they did. I told him I was sorry because they sounded very good but I was very allergic to sea scallops. So we ordered the calms in the coconut curry broth. They were very tasty but apparently there were sea scallops in the broth. Towards the end of our meal I became very ill and it was all the symptoms I get with poisoning from sea scallops. In the past, when I have indicated this allergy the wait staff of various places has made sure I don't order dishes with this substance int them.

The main course was o.k. but not unforgettable.

My desert was a fiasco. I ordered the lavendar creme brulee and twice I was served something that had not set-up and was very runny. It was also very oddly paired with a brownie like but crispier cookie. It was a very bad match. In the end, I gave up on desert.

Friday night, dining parter and I wen to Alba's as a make-up since I could not keep Weds.'s meal down and getting the vile substance out was good.

The crab crostini was wonderful as always. Partner loved the pasta course and her duck in cherries. I loved my steak in herbed butter. The lemon gelatto was very good as was the panna cotta with amarena cherries. And it was substiantially cheaper than Caprial's. We had wine with our meal instead of drinks.

My advice, unless you don't mind overpaying, leave Caprial's for the tourists.

#2 Jill-O

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 09:08 AM

Dining partner reporting in...

Yeah, Caprial's sure was a disappointment...the drinks were overpriced at $9 for small servings that were not especially well-mixed and the entrees were seriously overpriced. Service was a bit slow, especially considering the place was nearly empty when we first sat down.

It's one thing to get a creme brulee that isn't set, but two in a row?? My sponge cake with whipped cream and marionberries dessert was good but not thrilling. In fact, nothing knocked my socks off all meal.

But Alba's was great, as usual. We've been there several times over this past year and it is always a great meal. The service is always good, too. The pastas are some of the best I have ever had and the desserts are always delicious.

Now, about relative cost/value... Dinner cost about $130 at Caprial's (2 drinks, 2 glasses of wine, clams, caesar salad, 2 entrees, 1 dessert, 1 coffee) but the $98 meal at Alba's (3 glasses of wine, crab crostini, pasta, 2 entrees, 2 desserts, 1 coffee) was by far superior and the service was better too. You can do Alba's a lot more cheaply, too as the appetizers and pasta plates are big enough to share or to make a main course out of and especially if you do not drink wine.

Funny thing is, I think Kurt Spak (the chef/owner of Alba's) used to be a chef at Caprial's... Can anyone confirm that??
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#3 vj

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 09:51 AM

I've only eaten at Caprial's once but it really was a bad, expensive experience. At the time, I wasn't eating pork -- and basically, the menu was a choice of many different meats that I would never chose to eat. It was a really short menu, and obviously not designed for people who grew up with venison and fish and refuse to pay $16 for a venison or fish entree. (I should add here that I would happily never eat fish or game ever ever again) After seeing the menu, I asked if possibly the kitchen could make something special for me, like something off their lunch menu. They refused.

My dining companion's daughter had the buttered noodles that they'll make for kids, and that was easily the best thing on the table. Not the most sophisticated, not the most whatever, but it tasted best to me.

I'd like to try it again now that I am eating more meats, but most of my non-PFG eating companions have sworn the place off.

One thing in their favor, though -- we got a recommendation from the waiter and ordered a great, inexpensive wine -- easily the cheapest part of the meal.

#4 ExtraMSG

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 11:57 AM

I don't find Caprial's over-priced. Of course, I don't drink, and I did notice that all drinks are $9 just the other day when I went for lunch and commented that I thought that seemed spendy.

But just on the food, I think their prices are in line. I don't think they've got anything over $30 right now, whereas places like Bluehour and Paley's do just about always. Caprial's prices are even a bit cheaper on average than Wildwood. They're more expensive than places like Park Kitchen and clarklewis, but then, those places don't give very large portions at all and usually no sides. Caprial's is more in line with Wildwood and Bluehour's portions.

I have definitely gotten inconsistent execution from Caprial's. Sometimes everything will be cooked perfectly and sometimes items will be off. Their fries with the burger at lunch were the worst I've had in Portland, eg.

Usually I think their desserts are pretty darned good. (But I've never gotten creme brulee from them.) The dessert we had with lunch the other day, a "black and white" bread pudding was quite tasty. It didn't exactly seem to match the description, but it was quite good all the same. (It said that it used some sort of tea flavoring for one part of the pudding, but tasted more lemony to me.)

A couple other things: service has always been pretty good there for me, sometimes great. Also, I like the room *a lot* more than Alba's.

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

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#5 Jill-O

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 01:00 PM

I like the center room at Alba's - I find it homey yet upscale and like that it is fairly small...but I am not so thrilled with the first room you walk into. I've never eaten in the wine bar area.

I don't really have an opinion of the room at Caprial's...it didn't impress me, but it was OK, I guess.

Well, personally, I would not pay for another meal at bluehour - I don't think it's that great and I also think it is overpriced and I don't care for that room at all. So yeah, I agree with you on that the prices are in line with those at bluehour...but I think they are both overpriced and I find the execution lacking at both...and in comparison, I think Alba's (and Hurley's for that matter, which is even more expensive, but is a better value for what you get, though not necessarily in regard to portion size...) is a great deal.

I have not been to Paley's yet...though we hope to remedy that soon.
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#6 ExtraMSG

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 01:17 PM

That's not really what I said. I said the portions for Caprial's and Bluehour were in line. The prices at Caprial's are probably 10-20% cheaper than Bluehour on entrees. I noted that Caprial's prices are even cheaper than Wildwood's (and Wildwood is a little cheaper than Bluehour and Paley's overall). Value is a whole 'nother issue with a lot more variables.

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

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#7 Plump_and_Juicy

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 10:18 PM

FWIW, Kurt Spak was the second person I met socially when I moved to Portland in 1975. I started working with his sister, with whom he was living. Kurt's dad was a fabulous cook and introduced me to foods I'd never contemplated the existance of previously. His specialty was Chinese food, but I had my first taste of Jerusalem artichokes at his table. Kurt, at least, inherited his father's passion for food.

One thing about eating at their house though: you had to be willing to sit next to Kurt's partially-dismantled motorcycle in the dining room.

I've found eating at Caprial's to be noisy. We sat in the back room and couldn't hear each other after the table next to us was occupied. I liked the food, though, but I can't tell you what I ate because it was at least 5 years ago.

#8 ks95008

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Posted 26 July 2005 - 09:02 AM

Caprial's is one of those places that never quite worked for me. I used to get there occasionally for lunch and dinner. When she first came to Portland, her press was bordering on effusive/sort of a quasi-icon before she even really got seriously established. My thought process was "I guess I'm supposed to like this place - a lot." That turned into "Maybe I'll really like it next time, or the time after that." Enough next times. There
are too many other opportunities.

#9 Laksa

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 07:52 PM

I don't know Calabrese. There are a lot of great things about DC's restaurant scene.

I'd give Castagna a try Jill. I think it's almost certainly in the top 10 for the city (what would a top ten be? Wildwood, Park Kitchen, Gotham Bldg Tavern, clarklewis, Hurley's, Paley's, Caprial's, Castagna, and a couple others perhaps?)



I'm astonished that Caprials's gets mentioned in the top ten. I went there once and found the food to be very much like the show, ie lots of sweeteners in all the recipes and some very iffy sounding shortcuts. I thought she had a nerve charging what she did for the food she served. Portland has become quite a bit more sophisticated about food since she first graced our television sets, and I'd say there's many a restaurant in town which surpasses her in sophistication. The last show of hers I watched had something to do with grilling meat while camping and I actually thought that kind of basic knowledge is where she does have something to contribute. But I'll go elsewhere for 'fine dining' thankyouverymuch. Unless there's something I'm missing. Is Caprial really playing in the major leagues?

#10 Kristi

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 07:58 PM

I loved Caprial's before they expanded. It was small and intimate and the food was very good. Caprial and John were always there to make sure everything was running smoothly. I went a few times after they expanded and everything that I had loved about their place was gone, including the good food. I have not been back in years and can't imagine I will go back.

#11 ExtraMSG

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 08:27 PM

Note that my comment about Caprial's was over a year ago. Portland has several new higher-end restaurants in the last year or so. Personally, I like the dish concepts at Caprial's, a good sort of fusion, but the execution often falls short. While this is true of MANY restaurants in Portland (I don't know any restaurants that don't f' up dishes or fall short on execution in town), Caprial's seems to more consistently screw up a dish. Because of this, and because there are so many more good restaurants than there used to be, I rarely go there anymore. It's not worth the drive for me to take the chance. I'd still put it in the top 20, though, because when their dishes are executed properly, I think they're interesting and good. But I also think they cook to my palate to some degree using Mexican and Asian flavors on French bistro style dishes.

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

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#12 Twitch

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 02:02 PM

Er, I could have sworn I wrote Castagna on my review...not Caprial's. Did a mod edit, or was I really that tired?

#13 Amanda

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 02:05 PM

Dude, like me, you were either up too early or up too late.

Best regards,

Amanda

#14 ExtraMSG

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 02:05 PM

That's how it was when I saw it. I'll edit it to Castagna and move it back.

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

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#15 Twitch

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 02:22 PM

Thanks :D

#16 ks95008

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Posted 01 February 2007 - 12:57 PM

Although you probably won't be too keen on Caprial's. Just a hunch.

#17 Twitch

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Posted 01 February 2007 - 01:55 PM

I have yet to go, but will soon as it's close to me. My pre-visit understanding is Paley's-era vanguard gone horribly down hill.

#18 ExtraMSG

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Posted 02 February 2007 - 01:03 AM

I recommend a braised dish, especially duck. Generally been pleased when I get that there.

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

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#19 Angelhair

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Posted 02 February 2007 - 07:31 AM

The burger was good last time I was there for lunch.

#20 Twitch

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Posted 02 February 2007 - 08:18 AM

How's the pastrami?