LAKE OSWEGO, OR: Terrace Kitchen

Editor's note: The Terrace Kitchen closed in early 2013.

The dining scene in the Portland area is legendary - but you don't have to dodge the Max downtown or fight for parking in The Pearl to indulge; there are great options all over.

We almost literally stumbled upon one such an option after an errand in downtown Lake Oswego.

Located on the second floor of a completely unremarkable building a block off the main street of downtown Lake Oswego, Terrace Kitchen is a hidden gem. It's a 100-seat restaurant run by a couple who are both James Beard award winners, and it shows!

The menu is small -- one side of a standard sheet of paper -- but changes frequently as the owners have chosen to feature "seasonal Northwest cuisine." As many businesses in this area are wont to do, Terrace Kitchen focuses exclusively on local products: wine from the Columbia Valley, chowder made with Northwest seafood, cheeses from the Willamette Valley, locally-raised chicken, lamb, pork, beef, and rabbit. If it's not in season, if it's not fresh, if it's not local, it's not on the menu.

My wife and I shared a "TK salad" of local lettuce, apples, blue cheese, and hazelnuts; a Spring pea soup with mint cream; perfectly-prepared, succulent roasted pork loin with sweet potatoes, roasted pepper and corn sauce, chard, and cabbage. For dessert, we enjoyed a plate of two local cheeses: a brie and a Basque-style queso oveja.

It was a difficult choice to pass up other items including roasted lamb chops, rosemary loin of beef, cedar-planked salmon, wild cod, and rabbit fricassee. I suspect, though, that they would each have been as wonderful as the items we did enjoy: nothing short of magical.

As usual, my wife and I shared everything -- which was fine for all the courses except the entree. Terrace Kitchen's entree was perfectly portioned for one, not the gargantuan proportions that many American restaurants currently serve.

Making the evening even more special, the restaurant features live, local jazz on Friday and Saturday nights. The musicians who play at Terrace Kitchen volunteer their time and talent and play only for tips "to help sustain Oregon jazz," as the menu puts it. Sustainability, in whatever incarnation, is a big deal here in the Pacific Northwest.

Prices were surprisingly reasonable, especially given the quality of the food and the excellent service. Our four-course meal, including two glasses of Di Stefano Sauvignon Blanc each, was less than $85. With tips for our server and the musicians, our total was $110 -- a bargain for an evening of fine dining and great music!

In addition to creative cuisine, Terrace Kitchen also features art from local artists, cooking classes, and other special events. We highly recommend Terrace Kitchen, and you may well see us there, as we will definitely be back.

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Photos by Carl Dombek
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