Here’s a Guest Review from our old friends Frank and Grace, and their very mixed feelings about the relatively new 50 PLATES ….


It’s been a while since Grace and I have tried a new restaurant.  So when the chance presented itself, we selected 50 Plates.  Our selection process was easy.  We just went to Google, typed in “new restaurants Portland” and picked out the choices all-knowing Google spat out.  Kind of like using the Magic 8-Ball.  I must apologize for the lack of photographs.  We had to sneak out of the house in a hurry and forgot to bring our digital camera.


50 Plates is located on NW 13th and Flanders.  I think it was in the old Little Wing café site, although I could be wrong.  So on a muggy hot Saturday evening, my wife and I  made the trek to the Pearl. 


The décor is typical Pearl.  Sort of modern chic-industrial.  And while I thought 50 Plates referenced the menu (sorry, I am literal sometimes), I think in fact, it referenced the collage of license plates (aha!, 50 states, 50 plates!) in the entry. 


Since we cruised in around 9PM, getting a table wasn’t difficult,  We sat down and were presented the menu.  After ordering our initial drinks, we received our choice of “breads”.  Our choices were biscuits or cornbread.  My wife chose the biscuit and I chose the cornbread.  Unfortunately, I did not get to sample the biscuit.  Preferences for cornbread is a very personal thing and there are likely millions of different recipes.  I like mine slightly sweet, slightly on the moist side.  The 50 Plates version came in a small muffin-top version that was on the more  moist side and perhaps slightly too sweet.


The restaurant seems slightly busy and so the service was a little slow.  Later we were told that the owners were at this very boisterous (loud) table near us and that the staff were naturally giving them more attention. 


The menu is divided into appetizers, salad-like items, “Sliders”, ie small hamburger-type sandwiches (for all you that know or remember White Castle.  Actually I wonder if that is a trademarked term), larger menu items, dinner entrees, and desserts.


This is what my wife and I ordered:


Clams (appetizer).  Chef’s salad.  “Rich” Boy (a play on po’ boy –which was available), pulled pork slider, and Kobe beef steak.


The clams were very good.  I originally thought they were going to be fried but they came in a bowl, resting in their shells.  They tasted very fresh, slightly tangy.  A dish I would recommend.  It was a good start to a meal. 


The chef’s salad was also very good.  Slices of ham mixed in with organic melons and greens and cheese.  The melons were the best part of the salad, I think.  Small cubes of very sweet fruit, maybe slightly overpowering the rest of the salad ingredients.  But I’m a fruit fan so I didn’t mind and neither did my wife.


So that was 2 items out of 2 items we had that were very good and then things started to go downhill after that.


My pulled pork slider had arrived.  I picked it up, took an anticipatory bite and was very disappointed.  I don’t know how other people like their pulled pork but I like mine with some tangy sauce and the meat being very tender.  This pork was rather tough and dry and curiously bland.  The only consolation was that the slider was small so I didn’t have to waste a large sandwich. 


The “Rich” boy then arrived.  It was supposed to be a play on the po’ boy but made of a lobster claw instead of fried oysters.  What arrived was basically a lobster claw salad placed in a bun.  The salad portion, which tasted rather like cole slaw was tucked into the bun with a unshelled small lobster claw tucked on top of the bun.  Kind of like showing us “Ooh look! A lobster claw!”  Unfortunately the lobster meat wasn’t particularly sweet.  I am not sure how fresh it was.


The other thing to arrive with the po boy was the Kobe beef steak.  Small pieces of beef, numbering about 3 or 4, which looked like it was some sort of beef tip.  I took a bite of my wife’s steak and was tremendously disappointed.  The reason people pay a premium for Kobe beef (or wagyu, as most of the “Kobe” beef in the United States is not imported from Japan) is for the tenderness of the beef and the mouth feel.  I’ve had Kobe steaks that when you put the meat in your mouth, the beef was just incredibly tender and had this rich buttery taste and feel to it (all the fat).  The sample at 50 Plates had neither of the characteristics, no matter how much I wanted to like the dish,


We skipped dessert after the disappointing dishes.


So overall, 50 Plates is an OK place.  The service was good and that is probably the only thing that I can recommend about it.  Food-wise, the food seems pretty mediocre.  It is certainly not someplace I would go out of the way to eat at.