December 2011

Polpettes and Icy Toes

IMG_2607A few years ago, the Oregonian selected Navarre as Restaurant of the Year and I rejoiced, especially when even they admitted it was a weird choice, but that the food prevailed over all the quirky things there, ambiance, service, the size of the kitchen. Although they are barely open for lunch these days (maybe still Fridays and on the weekend?) I can think of no more interesting place to pop in for a leisurely lunch, eat a few of the intriguing small plates, finish with a delicious gut busting dessert, pay the reasonable tab, and feel like you just had lunch in some small village in the French countryside. The decor has always been incredibly basic, just blond wood chairs and tables (much seating is communal) a mirror with the specials written down, and a bunch of homemade preserves and imported specialties that you can buy lining the walls.

Owner John Taboda has a new venture now, about 8 blocks down Burnside from Navarre, and at least as far as the restaurant, it’s not much larger or fancier than Navarre (although the checkerboard floor is eye-catching.) The new place is called Luce. I mention the size of the restaurant because Luce is actually two spaces, the restaurant/cafe space and an event space right next door. Luce, the eatery, only seats 20, so I’m guessing the event space is larger, unless it caters to really small events. Luce does have a large fancy kitchen though, opposed to Navarre’s galley/postage stamp sized food preparation area, so maybe that’s why Navarre’s long time chef didn’t mind going  Italian. (Navarre has always seemed to me a French, Spanish, Italian combo.) Another strong presence at Luce is John Taboda’s wife, Giovanna, who also helms the extra fancy Italian boutique, Una, also on 28th like Navarre. My guess, from her name, is that Giovanna is Italian, and perhaps much of the authenticity at Luce comes from her (although Mr. Taboda certainly know his way around various European cuisines.)



This is 100 for me. No, not my 100th birthday, although often I feel that way. This is my 100th Restaurant Roulette dinner review on this blog, at least according to WordPress.IMG_2545 Can you believe I’ve made it through at least 100 dinners with a bunch of people who were almost all strangers at their first group dinner, and that some actually come back again and again to dine with the likes of me? (Don’t worry, I know it’s mainly because most of the  food is really good.) And to think, the blog didn’t become a struggle until about 50 reviews in (which is why I laugh when people get mad at me and send comments implying I live to do nothing but blog my life away. I would gladly sit back and send in an random snippy comments while they labor away at the keyboard for hours trying to be occasionally funny, or at least informative. Oh, and there’s also that fun part where I spend half of each dinner taking photos!) I do love the dinners though, and visiting all the new restaurants, and hanging out with my dining buddies, both familiar and brand new, and I think the blog is a bonus for potential and current members. So onward I solider, and readily I eat, all in the name of group dining fun. I don’t know if we’ll make it to 200, as that would end up being over 10 years of Restaurant Roulette, but anyone who wants to hang in with me as long as possible, we’ll give it our best shot. After all, I still have my first member, he was at the Woodsman dinner, and while we don’t see him that often, he does still seem to have a good time when he joins us.

Okay, that was a weird experience. I’m sitting here at 8:00 in the evening, writing this, and my doorbell rings. I turn on my porch light, and there’s a Penske Rental Truck outside delivering my UPS package. Has anyone else gotten UPS packages at 8:00 PM in a rental truck? It’s hard to know if this is a seasonal overflow thing (on December 1st?) or if their truck just broke down, but do you remember those old timey days when your mail came six days a week, probably before 4:00 PM, and you didn’t see UPS drivers doing deliveries at 8:00 at night?

Wasn’t that just fascinating? Please remember, I live a very tiny life.