March 2007


Marrakesh logoAnd/or: How not to make an entrance at a busy NW Portland Restaurant.

Yes, that clumsy person who Marnie politely and discreetly refers to in her review is naturally me, the person who forcefully plunks down on her ottoman only to go flying backwards into the lap of the young and trendy gentleman sitting about two feet behind her. Hey, the guy took it extremely well, I just wish I had actually consumed any or all of the drinks which my tablemates accused me of having earlier so I had some excuse for being the only person so graceless that I couldn’t manage to keep my buttocks tastefully on my cushion where it belonged. Anything to be the center of attention, you know?

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Alba Osteria and Enoteca LogoIt’s not easy to select a restaurant that NO ONE seems able to find, so please send my gold star in the mail. The location of this place, on a desolate stretch of Capitol Hwy., proved a challenge for eatsiders and westsiders alike. In fact, the only person actually familiar with the location of this place was Michael, our mass transit expert. Isn’t that interesting?

Also, it would help, on a dark and stormy night, on a twisty and hilly road, if the place had a sign larger than a postage stamp, and about as obvious as one too. Also, what’s the deal with that “overflow” parking lot across the street? The main thing it was overflowing with was gigantic mud-filled potholes just waiting to swallow up my already traumatized Beetle (from going up and down the same weird stretch of road looking for both the restaurant and parking, and continually trying to find places to turn around in this wacked-out area of SW Portland.)

Before we get to Marnie’s kindly submitted review below, I thought I’d make a few comments on the ambiance at Alba. The building itself, which Alba shares with two or three other businesses, including the Capitol Hill Coffee House (I think that’s what it’s called, and I’ve read one can have an interesting meal there as well,) is an extremely long and skinny piece of architecture, probably not too surprising considering that in the “olden days” (sometime before 1960) it used to be a railroad station. One can only assume there is/was a railroad track around here somewhere. Alba’s space itself was pleasant enough, if a bit plain, a rather woody bar area and two narrow adjoining dining rooms, one of which our group dominated with its’ table for twelve (although only eleven eventually arrived. Jody, did I lose you with my erroneous address trick?) The terra cotta walls were painted in that pleasant rag technique so popular a few years ago in local Italian eateries, and the rather austere space was livened up by the open kitchen with stainless steel everything and hanging animal appendages accessorized with still attached hooves (proscuito anyone?) If only this was Spain, the legs would not only have been in the actual dining area, ready to carve, but they would have been fur-laden too. Oh, yum.

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