22 August 2009
House made sausage with creamy polenta and braised greens, $8.00
Our beloved Annabell was in town last week and so the gals decided that a night out would be in order. The perfect place to drink wine, gossip and enjoy some of Portland’s best Italian food without breaking the bank: Bar Mingo.
Bar Mingo, which adjoins the well established and fabulous Caffe Mingo, was created to house those waiting for their tables next door, drink from a vast list of wines and cocktails and of course to share top quality food, but for a fraction of the price. If you have money to spend and time on your hands, go to Caffe Mingo; you won’t be disappointed with anything you put in your mouth or the ambiance of the small, rustic eatery. However, do not come here and think you are can skimp. The meal is only worth it if you go all out; ordering multiple bottles of wine, the antipasti plate, shrimp scampi, warm spinaci salad with pancetta and boiled eggs, asparagus covered in olive oil and roasted garlic, gnocchi and lastly their dream come true crème brule—you get the picture, you must eat like they do in Italy to enjoy this restaurant.
For most of us, seven course meals aren’t doable often and thus, we go to Bar Mingo. They have the same quality of food, same knowledgeable wait staff, a more Euro chicness vibe and louder music. With an assortment of antipasti dishes, which run $8.00 each, this is just the place to come for a small meal or to pass around and share. The one I love and which acts as a perfect meal by its lonesome is their house made sausage with creamy polenta and braised greens. If you’ve never had homemade sausage, you are in for a treat. It is much different then store bought sausage, with a unique tenderness and taste. The chefs here know the exact amount of spice as well, hot enough without overpowering the other two items. Their polenta is the best I’ve ever tasted—creamy with just the right amount of texture from the cooked grits. The mixture softens once touching your tongue and you stop for a moment to savor the creaminess of the artfully prepared polenta. It holds just the right touch of salt and cream. Some of the fat from the sausage mixes with the polenta, giving it even more flavor and a little zing. The braised greens are vibrant in color and with a sprinkling of the course sea-salt which lays the table they taste healthy enough to remind you of their vegetable background.
I have yet to try the pasta dishes, but am planning on going back soon for the Tonnarelli alla Vongole- Manila clams, pancetta, chiles, garlic and parsley, $15.00. With the same owners as Caffe Mingo, I have no doubt the pasta will be remarkable. The Panino and Salad, made with sliced meats, provolone and olive salad on ciabatta roll, served with a small salad for $11.00 is also a great choice. To drink, I’ve fallen in love with their wine menu—a double sided list, one with imports from Italy and the other more local wines. The Orvieto Classico is divine, light and crisp.
On Tuesday nights, they have a wine pairing menu. This particular night it came with a tagliatelle con mushroom and lobster ragu.
Prosciutto and Melon - San Daniele prosciutto, cantaloupe and mint cream