Plainfield's Mayur logoThe dining group did absolutely nothing to improve Plainfield’s seemingly flagging fortunes, as there were only three of us. Plainfield’s opened in 1977 (in a different location,) and at this point it’s hard not to sadly surmise they are circling the drain. This restaurant seats 210 people inside, and 50 people outside, and during the time we ate there, 7:00 – 8:45, there might have been 10 total people inside, and 10 total people outside. This is not a good sign for a restaurant, especially one that seemingly only employed two wait people on a Friday night. The food is certainly decent enough, full of flavor and unusual preparations, put still exceedingly small portions for $22. They actually gave us a portion of cucumber raita (the yoghurt salad,) that was at most 1/2 a cup, for three people to share. I certainly didn’t leave this place hungry, but for that amount of money, I wanted to see more something, perhaps variety, or ambience, something that would explain why Plainfield’s deserves to charge more than any other Indian Restaurant in town. Also, the menu seemed a bit too etched in stone, there were no specials, and I got the impression they have probably had the same exact items on their menu since 1977.

As for what we ate, two of us had The Makhani Murgh (Velvet Butter Chicken,) which was chunks of chicken marinated, roasted in a Tandoor Pot, and served in a tomato butter sauce. Not bad, but it would have tasted better at $15.00, and the sauce was perhaps a bit overpowering. Also ordered was Shahi Subji Korma, (Braised Vegetables in Cardamom Nut Sauce) a stew like item of carrots, potatoes, tunips, peas and paneer braised in an almond yoghurt sauce. I had a taste of this, it was very good, but perhaps a tad light for a hog like eater such as myself. The Pampadoms were excellent though. Some of the condiments were alarmingly hot, I bit into a corner of one of the petrified chili peppers and immediately started choking and drank all my water (see what you missed, L.)

A nice touch, The General Manager proudly gave us a tour of one of four Plainfield’s wine cellars, a specially designed, temperature controlled room full of 100s of bottles of wonderful wines. Very impressive, now if they only had customers there drinking them.

For years (especially 1996-1997) Plainfields garnered countless awards (all displayed in the waiting room,) and is one of Portland’s more nationally acclaimed restaurants. It would be a shame were it not to survive, but they clearly need to do several things, especially as their location is relatively obscure and off the beaten path. My suggestions: (afterall, I know everything, or course) find an infusion of cash, things are looking a tad shabby, especially in the waiting area, I felt like I was in my crazy Aunt Polly’s living room; shake up the menu more with specials and food from this century; lower their prices some, so they can compete with more reasonably priced (and always packed,) places like The Bombay Cricket Club.

I hope to see many of you at Nuestra, a place I know not to bite into any chili peppers!

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