Ahh, the best laid plans. Without a doubt, the perfect analogy to how I found myself at Clyde Common to begin with. I had a short time in Portland, so I laid out a plan for how I was going to work out, get my new Santoku knife at Williams Sonoma, have a great dinner, wake up in the morning for a filling breakfast, and get in a nice day of customer visits. The whole plan fell apart before I even got there. I hit traffic on the way down and my 3 hour drive turned into 4.5. I skipped the gym to go straight and find my knife, but the address that came up was no longer a Williams Sonoma. During this time the maps app locked up on my iPhone and I couldn’t find anything. It was a disaster and I was about to throw in the towel and just have a quick dinner at Little Bird and go back to my room when magically I found myself within WiFi distance of a Starbucks. Suddenly my phone worked and Clyde Common popped up on UrbanSpoon; so I headed up there.
Clyde Common to me is the perfect Portland restaurant. It’s in the Ace Hotel, and has this nice retro mixed with contemporary vibe to it. It’s older, but well kept. Hardwood floors dark wood bars and an open kitchen highlight the dining area. The menu is full of fresh and seasonal fare. And the bar is a true cocktail bar, manned by bartenders that can make you the perfect drink by simply asking a couple of questions. The type of bar where the ice cubes they use vary depending on the melting rate and the amount of water it will infuse into your drink.
I was lucky enough to find a seat in the way back corner of the bar area as the place was absolutely packed on a Wednesday night. I decided to start with a good Northwest microbrew and then peruse the menu. I ultimately landed on the roasted red pepper and vegetable soup and the braised lamb. Normally I would ask the bartender his favorites, but it was so busy I didnt have that option and actually had to shout my order to him.
It didn’t take too long for the soup to arrive. It was a nice, rustic soup. The base was red pepper and tomato, and there were a variety of vegetables that I probably couldn’t name that were all probably grown locally. And I couldn’t even tell you what the green sauce in the middle was…mostly herbs as far as I could tell with a little big of oil. Making it sound delicious, aren’t I? You just have to trust me that it was. The flavor was definitely mild and simple, though the presentation was complex. Everything just worked together nicely. And it was a great pre-cursor to the lamb dish.
The lamb was a braised shoulder served over the top of orzo with mushrooms and peas and a little bit of feta. It was fork tender and nicely done. With the mushrooms and orzo, the whole dish had a very earthy feel with a little bit of richness. Again, the flavors were simple and mild, really just focusing on letting the ingredients shine.
I finished my meal and had another beer before heading out and back to the hotel to get some work done after an enjoyable meal. I know I didn’t say a lot about the food, but it was just because it was nice, simple well done food. The atmosphere was vibrant and fun, and if it wasn’t for the need to get some work done, I might have checked out the skills of the bartenders. Something I might have to go back and check out at some point because inevitably I will find myself down there again.