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Monday, March 10, 2014

Angel Face

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Mon, Mar 10, 2014 at 11:29 AM

There's a decent chance that sometime in the last week a version of this has shown up in your Instagram feed:

Screen_shot_2014-03-10_at_10.41.47_AM.png

When I first saw it I thought it was some of the most charming wallpaper I'd ever seen, but it's not. It's hand painted, and it runs up and down along all four walls at the newly opened Angel Face, brought to you by Portland power couple John Tabaoda and Giovanna Parolari, who together also own Navarre, Luce, and one of the city's most sophisticated boutiques, Una. According to our server it took about a month and a half of devoted eight-hour days to complete, going over and over in repetitive passes to add each color and detail, and using a stencil only for the large dark flowers. Even if in 50 years this place changes hands and directions, I hope nobody is stupid enough to cover it up. It's amazing... especially when you recall that it used to be part of the Chinese restaurant/hard drinker's paradise Chin Yen on NE 28th just north of Burnside.

Of course the space as a whole is attractive, and if Navarre is their Spain and Luce is their Italy, then Angel Face is their France. Unlike their other two eateries Angel Face is a bar first, with an extensive list of spirits (no cocktail list per say, though the bartender will happily fix you whatever you like or whip up something based on your own description of what you want), wine, and beer. The food menu is modest, especially when you consider the lists as long as your arms next door at Navarre. And while I'll leave a proper food review to the whims and expertise of our new critic Andrea Damewood, myself and a few friends managed to blaze through a fair percentage of the tiny menu on Saturday night, so here are the broad strokes:

Ray oysters by the half-dozen or dozen (good but self explanatory). There are also a number of boards available, designed as shareable snacks. There's the usual meat and cheese boards, as well as veggie and fish boards, served with rye or baguette. We tried the meat for something a little more unusual, the veggie board, which included things like pickled brussel sprouts, a celery root slaw, and a pumpkin spread. There are simple salads (butter lettuce with a light dusting of bread crumbs) and more substantial (and excellent Nicoise), but the real highlights were two classics: A steak tartare with raw quail egg and traditional accoutrements on the side (such as minced shallot and chives—we just dumped 'em all in and mixed it up, which seemed like the right thing to do), and the real showstopper of the evening, an egg meurette, poached in a deep red wine sauce with healthy chunks of bacon.

Most everything on the menu is in the $8-14 range, and with all that plus two rounds of drinks we walked out splitting the bill for less than $40 a head. Kind of a splurge (I probably wouldn't try to cobble a dinner out of it next time and just keep it snacky) but not too terrible, especially for the quality. And those walls. I might pay money just to sit next to those walls.

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