Searching online to see where to end our Portland Hobbits’ eating journey, Aviary looked very interesting.
Aviary is listed as an Asian fusion restaurant, and I was absolutely drawn into it when I saw the Dungeness crab chawanmushi (steamed egg in a cup).
Naturally that was the first dish I ordered.
But before our food came, I was wowed by the dipping for the bread.
Positively buttery, savory and creamy with notes of garlic, it was liquid gold of emulsification, I could not stop myself eating the bread; in fact, I could drink the dipping sauce.
Aside from generous lumps of Dungeness crab meat in the egg, there were crunchy sweet peas, thin slices of slippery bone marrow, soft and sweet uni (sea urchin), and sweet, harder and crisp Asian pear, accented with truffle vinaigrette and crunchy croutons.
A full spectrum of texture and flavor in this small bowl.
In truth, I felt a little overindulged, and a little too much going on in the bowl!
On the side it was black garlic paste and a thin cracker of black garlic as well.
This was the first time I had black garlic, and apparently it was touted as a rising culinary ingredient back in 2012.
Basically a fermented garlic, black garlic still has the garlicky character but quite a bit milder and a lot sweeter, reminiscent of balsamic vinegar.
Another intriguing dish was the chanterelle ravioli with smoked tapioca.
Fried sage on top to give crispiness and earthy herb flavor, but the star was truly the ravioli.
Little tapioca balls with a hint of smoke flavor were the fillings for the soft, tender pasta outside, and the herb sauce was just delicious.
Chanterelles were just icing on the cake for these texturally fun and chewy ravioli.
Next, we had skate.
The fish was cooked perfectly with sunchoke puree and a light olive lemony sauce.
Hoisin glazed duck leg with a foie gras steamed bun arrived hand-in-hand with the skate.
The bun tasted much like a regular chives and meat steamed bun with a very small hint of liver.
The duck had an interesting chewy texture with skin and tendon, and very flavorful accompanied by the rutabaga puree.
The charred octopus with ricotta pudding and red curry sauce was delicious.
Octopus was tender and the rub on it was amazing and garlicky.
The pudding was runny and cheesy with a red curry sauce that packed some heat.
A consistent theme throughout the meal was that everything was plated beautifully, and include their extensive usage of French cuisine inspired sauces.
At times, I did feel that there was too much going on on the plate, but ingredients were cohesive with fantastic balance of sweet, salty and sour; for the most part, flavor fireworks in the mouth.
Absolutely an adventure, I will go back to Aviary.