I’ve taken to having fancies about this little place called Gracie’s in downtown Portland, a charmingly elegant restaurant that serves classic American cuisine with a swanky twist. The smooth, dim lighting and glittering chandeliers created an engaging effect that gave the restaurant an air of both casualness and class. The chairs, I don’t know why, were particularly remarkable—there were wheels on the bottom so that pulling it out was a perfect glide, and they were lined with plush cushions and armrests that were nicely refined. Draperies graced the windows and couples hunched forward in conversations over glasses of wine.
Instead of providing enormous entrées, the menu was designed to satisfy the customer’s palette with a number of small but delectable selections. Then people could pick and choose to form their personal combinations of dishes. The pork belly reuben crostini sounded tantalizing to me, and I decided to pair it with the crab cakes. The crab cakes, fried to a delicate golden brown and bursting with the taste of the sea, arrived with a bed of lettuce and a ramekin of this excellent mayonnaise sauce that was deliciously savory and hearty. Normally I avoid the tartar sauce and whatnot for dipping fried seafood like fish and chips, etc. but this time I caved in—and the sauce changed my life.
Yet what really grabbed my attention was the pork belly crostini. Lined up on a long, edged plate were three little squares of toasted rye bread topped with a thick slice of seared pork belly (almost to a dark crisp) and a sprig of bright arugula on top. I TELL YOU. I picked one up and eyed it, but I shouldn’t have doubted it. The dark, smoky, rich flavor of the pork with the bread’s rustic tones and the light arugula was a brilliant combination. As I shared it with my family they all went through similar reactions. Truly remarkable. The pork belly wasn’t stringy at all like bacon, either, it had a sort of juicy, succulent texture. If you ever go here, do try the pork belly crostini—I hope you find it as delightful as I thought it was!
For dessert, my family and I indulged in a custard pie for my mom’s birthday and a chocolate soufflé. Then commenced a heated argument between my sister and I over the flavor of the syrup drizzled artistically over the dishes—she fervently argued raspberry while I stubbornly stuck with chocolate-raspberry. It was a friendly spar that brought us all laughing until our food babies protested. (To this day I still think I’m right…) But anyway. The chocolate soufflé was a warm chocolate cake (naturally) and filled with a hidden river of warm chocolate sauce that spilled onto the plate in all its cocoa glory. With a couple sliced strawberries and blueberries, my delicious meal was beautifully complete.
I actually liked this place so much that I even came back for my prom night’s dinner. I chose this marvelous duck dish with a cherry reduction. ‘Twas perfectly crispy and brimming with notes of cheerful cherry. And by the way, Gracie’s bread pudding is apparently their best, and they’re definitely right. My entire table gasped as we saw the waiter place at our table a heaping mass of soft, steaming bread pudding with apples and raisins followed by hints of maple, cinnamon, and honey. Fried with cornflakes, this was absolutely fanciful.