Thursday, July 30, 2015
As Fresh as it gets at Ned Ludd
Even with the bounty of deliciousness that constantly surrounds us in Portland, it's not often we get to eat at an upscale, gourmet restaurant but when we do, it's always spectacular. Our recent visit to Ned Ludd for my birthday last week gave this statement more truth, as we were surrounded by fresh, seasonal and thoughtfully prepared dishes that we'd go back for any day.
Situated on the border of NE and NOPO, you'll find Ned Ludd on the busy MLK Blvd and truth be told, it's easy to miss if you're not looking for it. The exterior is sort of rustic looking and the restaurant's signage not too prominent that you really have to look out for it. But when you find it, you'll be glad you came - and you'll be happy to also see that it has an official parking lot, which is kind of rare.
The exterior is enticing in itself, as it adorns all the natural wood they use to power their signature wood burning oven. I love that the vibe is very organic, rustic and doesn't look like it's trying too hard, which is definitely felt inside too. While the interior decor feels a little thrown together, being made up of a hodgepodge of knick-knacks that look like they came from competing households, it still works together to create a charming atmosphere and in its own way, harmony.
Since the restaurant's philosophy is all things seasonal, fresh and centers around local bounty, we made sure to try a little bit of everything - especially the vegetables. We weren't sorry in our choices and I was especially impressed with Dan's main dish:
Spiced Flatbread - Starting off with some homemade spiced pita breads simply sprinkled with course sea salt and fruity olive oil was a good idea. Not only were they warm and airy, they paired nicely with our other dishes, especially the veggies. It must be noted that the portion is generous and ample enough to share between 2 to 3 people.
Summer Squash Salad - I was instantly drawn to the description of this dish, which included Mediterranean flavors including za'atar and yogurt sauce. Dan remarked that it tasted a little bit like tzatziki, which I somewhat agree with. The squash itself was lovely, vibrant and cooked perfectly to preserve a little bit of bite.
Pastured Lamb - Being a total sucker for lamb, this was my dish of choice and while I liked it, I can't say I was in love. Surprised that the meat was served on the cold/room temperature side, I expected something hot that melted in your mouth instead. And while the cherry tomatoes and the pea shoots that rested on top were simply flawless, I thought the greyish eggplant puree on the bottom didn't do much for the plate's sensory appeal.
Cornish Hen - Totally opposite of the lamb, Dan's entree was a total standout. First off, it looked absolutely gorgeous, sporting perfectly roasted skin that was sprinkled with fresh herbs and little edible flowers. It just looked like a happy dish that you coudn't wait to dig into and once Dan gave me a generous piece, I was hooked and went back for seconds, thirds, and fourths. The way in which it was cooked, resulting in one of the juiciest renditions of a chicken dish, was impressive. It surpassed any expectations one may have about chicken, and while the veggies that surrounded it were fabulous too, it almost didn't even need anything to go along with it.
Service and Cost:
Just like everything else in the restaurant, the service was very much on point. Our waiter was precise and attentive and very knowledgeable about the food. It was he who steered Dan towards getting that amazing Cornish Hen, so if you're stuck between a few different choices, the staff can certainly help you.
Costs are on the higher side but justified given the quality and precision of everything. The above mentioned meal with a drink set us back about $40 per person not including tip.
Ned Ludd - 3925 MLK Blvd, Portland OR 97212