My sister remarked that Restaurant St. Jack already sounds like a promising place because it puts the “restaurant” in the front of the name versus at the end to get “St. Jack Restaurant.” I suppose she has a point. Restaurant St. Jack sounds a little more elegant, a little more upscale. And that’s exactly what its food delivers–elegant, upscale, and flavorful French fare in a vintage, rustic atmosphere.
This restaurant is slightly dim, embracing the natural light from outside via a huge glass-less window that allows fresh air and the sun’s glow to stream inside. When I went with my family, tables were filled with chattering customers who all ate heartily and laughed frequently, lending joyous summer vibes to the place.
One thing I love about Restaurant St. Jack is their assortment of decorated china. Every place at our table had a different plate, some with floral patterns and some with solid colors. There were also quite a few daring options on the menu–some frog legs, chicken liver, bone marrow. We decided to start off with two appetizers, which were specials of the day–fisherman’s stew and a fried oyster tartine.
The fisherman’s stew showcased a vibrant array of seafood, including geoduck (fresh saltwater clam), oysters, mussels, and salmon roe. The soup was a savory and creamy white wine and lemon broth with a hearty taste of oyster. Upon my first sip, the tangy lemon and white wine hit my taste buds first and then finished with the pungent seafood flavor. The stew went well with the fresh baguette bread that was served, too!
Similarly, the oyster tartine packed a great seafood punch. A lightly fried breading outside revealed a plump oyster inside, whose strong taste was mollified by the crusty bruschetta-like bread underneath. I’m personally not a fan of oysters, but this dish swayed me to appreciate them much more.
At the same time, I swooned over my main entree. I had this dish called “duck aux cerises,” and “cerises” translates to “cherries” in French. This magnificent combination of fowl and fruit had sliced duck breast beautifully arranged on top of a layer of pommes anna (thinly sliced potatoes cooked in an insane amount of melted butter) and surrounded by a dark, slightly bitter sauce that had a hint of cherry. A spray of almond-garnished string beans and a collection of stewed cherries were the finishing touches.
Words can’t describe the duck’s tenderness and juiciness. I’d cut a piece of duck, dip it in the sauce, add a sliver of soaked cherry to my fork as well as a slice of buttery tater, and then chew it all in a haze of bliss. 10/10 I would order it again.
I also tasted sweetbreads for the first time. What a deceptively dainty name–just imagine a cow’s or sheep’s organ cooked to look like bread. None of us could figure out what animal or organ was used, but my guess is that the sweetbreads were made of a sheep’s pancreas. They tasted like a bunch of caked fat held together by more membranes of fat. Extremely rich stuff–I personally would not recommend.
Yet overall, Restaurant St. Jack is a winner in my book. It’s a perfect place for a swanky date night or outing with friends/family–fine French dining sure to satisfy any ravenous stomach.
Address: 1610 NW 23rd Ave, Portland, OR 97210