I went to see Jiro Dreams of Sushi at the Laurlhurst Theater the other day, Randall and I arrived quite early since we had tried to see it the day before and it was sold out. We were hungry and walked across the street looking for some place to eat. I didn't even see this restaurant until we were right in front of it they had a tasty looking menu outside and weren't very busy so we went in.
The inside Navarre is small and simple with jars of pickled veggies in shelves on the walls. I wasn't fond of our waitress, she wasn't there to seat us and there was no sign saying "please wait". When we sat ourselves and she came with our menus it almost seemed like she was going to seat us somewhere else, like it mattered in a mostly empty restaurant. She explained how the daily menu worked and we ordered from the "small plates" menu mostly.
First was marinated olives and grassy olive oil with soft chewy bread and a crisp chewy crust for dipping.
Pork Rillette with toast points and pickled bell pepper. It was a bit un-nuanced (which is weird for pork), but it was still very good, and pretty filling on it's own.
Potato and Nettle Gratin, I didn't try this but Randall said it was good. Nettle is becoming a popular feature on changing menus around here. It's not bad, if you get a chance give it a try.
The deal sealer! This is Sliced Foie-Gras on Cumin Toast, it's about as wide as my fist, and half an inch thick with it's buttery slightly irony taste. It's fantastic with the cumin and was only 7$ on the menu. Our whole meal together cost about 30$ and I enjoyed it imencely, I can't wait to go back.
In comparison, for my birthday Randall and I went to Toro Bravo which was voted one of the best restaurants in Portland last year. We got the tasting menu (30$ each) with nine courses, and the most interesting things we received was the Salt Cod Fritters 8$ (we received two of them they were only about an 1 1/2in long and 1in thick) and a sauteed spinach dish with nuts and raisins also being sold on the regular menu for 8$. For that price and the amount I received I have to assume the spinach was hand picked by virgins and washed with Evian.
All In all Toro Bravo was an all around disappointment, and Navarre has given me hope that "small plate" cuisine can indeed be delicious and affordable.