Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Isabel Pearl

A little while ago, a Groupon came through my email inbox for a fairly new restaurant in the Pearl neighborhood of Portland. I buy restaurant Groupons only if I know there will be some selection of dishes I can choose from, or if it's a place I already frequent. This seemed to be a restaurant that I could easily enjoy, so I bought it and invited my friend A to join me for lunch.

Isabel Pearl, located at NW 10th and Everett, is a gorgeous space situated in the middle of a cement square. The walls are made of windows, making the interior bright and airy, even on a mid-February cloudy day. The atmosphere is light and the vaulted ceilings make the restaurant feel large, even though there are many seats and tables that are placed very close together.

I met my friend there for lunch yesterday. We went right at noon (well, we were both about 5 minutes late), but there were plenty of empty tables. We were able to grab one near one of the many windows and right away someone came to help us. We each ordered tea while we took our time looking over the menu.

The tea was lovely, as you can see below. I ordered the "orange" caffeinated tea, and it had additional flavors of cranberries and earl grey.

Next, we had to actually decide what we were going to eat. The Groupon was very generous, allowing us $20 to spend on our lunch. The lunch menu seemed to average about $9 or $10 per dish, depending on additions or omissions, and the tea was only $2.50, so we felt assured that we would be well-fed with the amount on the coupon.

Finally, after looking over the menu for about 15 minutes, we each decided on our orders. My lunch partner got the Lettuce Wraps and I ordered the Crispy Dragon Potatoes, sans dairy and jalapenos. I added un-marinated tofu (the marinated tofu included soy sauce in its ingredients, so I couldn't eat it). The description of the Crispy Dragon Potatoes was this:
Crispy rosemary potatoes grilled with jalapenos, onions, tomatoes, black beans, avocado, cheese and salsa.

Holy CRAP, this was a damn good meal. Let's just start with the black beans. I wrote an ode to them in my review on Yelp, and it goes something like this:
Oh, black beans.
How I love you.
You, with the seasoned goodness.
You are so yummy and filling.
Thank you for going into my tummy.
I realize it doesn't rhyme, but the beauty of odes is that they don't have to. 

Okay, so back to the rest of the food. The potatoes were unique in that they were almost like pancakes in size, plus they were seasoned and crispy on the outside. The avocado was the perfect accompaniment to the delicious black beans (have I mentioned those yet?), adding just the right amount of creaminess, and the tofu was just crispy enough to add to the already-amazing meal.

I was absolutely stuffed by the end of the meal, and, although I was curious about their desserts, I regrettably couldn't fit another morsel of food inside my stomach, so I guess this means I'll have to go back.

I'm thinking tomorrow.
They also offer a cookbook, which put on hold today at the library. I can't wait to make these black beans at home, where I will enjoy the HECK out of them.

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