Recently I had the pleasure of making good on a generous gift card (thanks mom) at David’s Opus Ten in downtown Portland. This Monument Square mystery took us by storm. I knew when I made the reservation, venturing into the rear of David’s to find this bistro within a bistro, Opus Ten would impress. I wasn’t prepared for the three-hour gustatory rendezvous this blackbox dining theater presents.
Canyon Ranch-style pampering, sans the essential oils and low carb menu, begins right away. As you approach the black curtains, an attentive staff whisks off your coat. Owner David Turin appears to say hello, and the show starts.
The cocktail cart in the middle of the snug room is too tempting to pass up. Ask for the portable bar, loaded with distilled liquids and other curious potions, to be wheeled over for a closer ogle. While drinks are mixed you can peruse the menu in a Zen-like clam.
Up until a few weeks ago, Opus Ten was a prix fixe room. Guests had to commit to a multi-course chef’s choice augmented with optional spot-on wine pairings. In these highly customizable times, things have loosened.
A small plates menu was added in March making the hideaway less exclusive and hopefully more populous. On the night we were there (a Thursday) only one other coupled dined here. When they left we had the room to ourselves until our last bite. Romanic yes, but sometimes you want to feel the pulse of the city.
This gave us plenty of time to delve lustily into the bread service and accompanying warm olives with manchego cheese and serrano ham. Perfectly salty, warm, Mediterranean tastes. The bread service ($3) features mini croissants, rye buns, salted sticks, and other gluten-glorious morsels. Do it! The baskets of wonder make an appearance at least four times. Well worth it.
Next, the mushroom cream shooter with truffle foam was a rich, nourishing balm. Think deconstructed mushroom soup meets deluxe latte. To be experienced! Sip that cup, chew on that mushroom and dream on.
With its brick walls, diaphanous curtains and bistro-style seating, Opus Ten is a food lab for chef Bo Bryne. The bearded Bryne works quietly in a small, open kitchen all night, toiling like a scientist mixing new formulas for your gastro pleasure. Dish by dish, a parade of butter-poached lobster on a risotto cake with citrus truffle micro greens, arrive as if parachuting down from heaven.
The best surprise on the prix fixe menu is the palate cleanser. Bryne comes to your table with a frozen concoction and pours it into your glass. (Nice touch).
The pear and pomegranate sorbet topped with frozen raspberry infused vodka was hardly necessary after the Tablas Creek we lovingly sipped. But it went down easy and further removes you from the brick bound Monument Square to the edge of the Orient (or wherever your wandering imagination takes you). I got a distinct hit of Greece.
With all the shiny, new places to visit in Portland the stalwarts oft get lost in the shuffle. To miss this Opus is to forfeit a symphony.