I visited Fenouil in the Pearl recently.
The big, modern and airy space was bustling and First-Thursday crowded. We sat outside on the patio looking onto Jamison Square.
We shared several appetizers:
The lobster beignets are as delicious as they sound; little fried lobster chunks with an anise-flavored aioli for dipping.
I tried my very first foie gras. It was served in a terrine with brioche and fig jam. It tasted like vanilla butter. Poor duck or goose 🙁
The steak tartare, with kobe beef and a quail egg on top, was mildy flavored and pleasant. My only point of comparison is a venison tartare I had in Montreal a couple years ago, which had a texture reminiscent of raw ahi and a stronger, more capery flavor.
For the main course I had the paella, which was fantastic. Prawns, halibut, chicken, clams, mussels, and chorizo! Try it.
We shared several bottles of a good Pinot Noir from Alloro Vineyard in the Willamette Valley. 2005 I think?
In lieu of dessert I ordered a flight of Calvados, which we passed around the table. My favorite was the Boulard, but the table’s consensus favorite was one that was 20 years old. Alas, I don’t remember the name . . .
The food is excellent, but in general not on par with Higgins (my Portland gold standard) and a bit more expensive. The service was great. I would definitely go back with a party again (especially if someone else is picking up the tab!); I’d like to try the frog legs and escargot; two classic dishes I have yet to try.
The bistrot menu (pdf) is Higgins-esque, and they have a happy hour, so I intend to check it out. There was no crowd at all in the bistrot around 6pm.
…Well we ate the other part of the duck and it was excellent. Cooked perfectly with no gamey flavor. It came with a flan-like side that was flavored with corn. A good combination. The portion was small so be warned.
The Kobe Beef Sirloin was dang good. It came with a sweet sauce and potatoes.
A funny thing, I ordered a side of mushrooms with my steak. They were cooked perfectly, not watery but not rubbery. After a few bites, I kept saying, I have tasted this before… a few bites more and I had it. The mushrooms tasted just like Stove Top Stuffing. LOL! A few in the party agreed.
Highlight of the night was the foie gras, for sure.
I also went to Fenouil a couple of times and I was not impress nor disappointed. Next time you go ask for the foie gras with a glass of sauterne. It will make the experience even more enjoyable.