Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Return of the MAC?? (Sorry, couldn't resist)

News of Chef Philippe Boulot's departure from the Heathman kitchen for the Multnomah Athletic Club, left a wake of sadness and confusion. For many who've worked with him, the absence of his dominating presence and skillfull hand left questions as to what the restaurant would become. It was also confounding--why would a chef leave his own restaurant to work in a cafeteria style kitchen at an elitist athletic club?

In any case, by odd chance, I attended a luncheon at the MAC today, about a week or so after chef Boulot took charge. I've never been there before, but had heard and read that the food was horrible, institutional.

So, when my meal was served, I paid attention, and didn't expect much. What I saw, seemed like a replating, revamping of what could have been awfully standard dishes.

A spinach salad starter, instead of being leaves of prepackaged baby spinach dropped on the plate and dressed, was cut in a chiffonade. This added an elegance and attention to detail. The dressing wasn't very nice, but there were slices of fresh citrus on it, and I was pleased with the texture.

What I first feared would be a beef stroganoff was actually beef tips simmered in a rich mushroom gravy, with a depth of flavor not normally encountered in places like that. It was plated, again, with care--carrots and parsnips (yeah, not celery), were cut into dainty cubes. They were perfectly roasted, and very sweet and fresh, perfect to off-set the beef. Not too salty either. And it was all set on top/around a neat little mound of Boulot's famous super creamy mashed potatoes.

I'd like to follow up on these observations, but unfortunately I'm not a member...

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