Thursday, June 21, 2012

Jo Bar and Rotisserie


Portland, OR. Sometimes it is about ease, hosting friends who are coming together for that long-standing raincheck. Other times it is about the ambience, hosting romance to sweet confections. The service can even be a draw, where friendly, informative or excited servers proudly escort the meal to a few hungry eyes. Though any individual or combination of these qualities could sustain my relationship with the eatery, at Jo Bar and Rotisserie it is the food that will be pulling me back.

From the same owners as the Papa Haydn restaurants, comes this eatery boasting of casual fare, complete with wood oven-fired and spit-roasted cuisine. The menu is minimal, compared to a general dine, but the items pack a flavorful punch. On a day, such as this visit, where a few small bites were desired in the mid-afternoon, it played a great host to my appetite. Of course it fell within their happy hour time, and as it is a bar, wines and spirits suddenly looked more appealing. My friend and I took our seats along the window, perused the menu, and awaited our coming eats. It was a quiet afternoon, and sitting adjacent to their bar was not an issue.

White Asparagus
White Asparagus with Fried Egg - was served hot, peppered, and drizzled with a little oil, freshly shaved parmesan and french onion. The asparagus was overcooked, but remained crispy despite its presentation. As we ate, the oil began to blend with the egg yolk. Naturally, I thought of a fresh aioli, and in closing my eyes affirmed why the actual approach is important to make that remembered texture. The dish was simple and can be easily duplicated in a personal kitchen - don't we all have wood oven-firing capabilities?

Garlic Lemon Fries
Garlic Lemon Fries - were made as any other, with several skins remaining, and fried to a crunchy perfection. Two batches came to our table (yes we ordered both) one crispier than the other, but both  were finished in full with a satisfactory lick of each finger. A zesty gremolata accompanied the dish, drawing out the lemon when zinging together with the lightly-salted garlic fries.

Mac and Cheese
Mac and Cheese - was ordered not once but twice, by my friend and I. It contained the basic pasta and cheddar cheese combo, melted with a few extras: hearty bacon and chicken. Bread crumbs, that I can only hope were tossed in bacon fat, were sprinkled across the macaroni. Each bite was as steamy as the next, and the rather generous chunks of bacon nicely flavored the melted cheese and chicken. It would be hard for a vegetarian to consume this dish, but my friend made do and enjoyed the essence of the ingredients I very easily put down.

Though it does not have an extensive food menu, the fact that it is also a bar beefs it up with surplus. As I familiarized myself with eateries across the city, I learned that this was actually quite common to the area. When the food and drinks came together here, we were left with a rather filling afternoon of  socializing. Their "Cocktail Party Bites" are available daily from 3pm - 6pm for the smaller fare, open earlier and later for all the rest. 

Jo Bar & Rotisserie 
701 NW 23rd Ave
Portland, OR 97210

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