Honey and
food and travel

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Ava Gene's

We've found our new favorite neighborhood restaurant. Unfortunately it's not in our neighborhood. Or city. Or state. It's a five hour flight away, over in Portland. I'm still not sure what to do about this situation: if a move to Portland were possible, that would be best. Hey, Ava Gene's, fancy moving over to New York, and bringing the Portland lifestyle with you? And maybe some of those mountains too?

Of the four nights we spent in Portland, two were spent at Ava Gene's. This wasn't intentional. But it was a happy accident. By our second visit, we'd befriended the waiter and felt more like locals than we've managed to achieve anywhere other than Van Leeuwen in 2 years in Brooklyn.

When a restaurant tells you that "our story can be told through our pasta," the executive chef has just written a beautiful, uber-seasonal, vegetable-forward cookbook, and it's located in your dream Portland neighborhood, you can be pretty sure you're walking into a great meal. When Bon App├ętit won't stop shouting about it, you can be pretty sure it's going to be wonderful. And after the first sip of a Negroni Sbagliato, we were head-over-heels in love.

On both visits we shared as many antipasti, giardini (veggie-centric salady things), and primi (pasta!) as we could manage. All the pasta is milled, rolled, and cut in house. This could lead to the claggiest, most indigestible pasta in the world. Obviously, it doesn't. It makes some of the best.

I'm not exaggerating when I say that we loved every single thing. Huge plates of greens, radishes with tonnato, pane with borlotti beans and rosemary, and bruschetta piled high with favas and English peas filled the table with color and bright flavors. Linguine with clams, Sunday's special sugo, agnolotti pillows which burst like magical candy, and charred spiced chicken combined the most spectacular pasta with the freshest Portland ingredients, and made for four very happy, greedy people.

We'd started dreaming of a future in Portland as soon as we arrived, and Ava Gene's made the return to this big, tough, sweaty East coast city 100% harder.

Ava Gene's, 3377 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97202.

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