Bluehour

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By Scott Alexander | Photos, Dennis Rivera

The next time you find yourself in Portland’s fabled “Pearl District,” treat yourself, and spend some time at Bluehour.

One of those restaurants that just “feels” good, it might be the feng shui, but we suspect it has more to do with the outstanding service, and spectacular food.

When we visited, the dining room was still dressed in its holiday best. The trees in the dining room were wrapped in tiny lights. Kind of reminiscent of New York’s Rockefeller Center, but on a smaller, intimate, fine dining scale.

When you walk in the door, your delightful experience begins with the friendly staff who immediately seem familiar – not hovering, but attentive and able to anticipate your every wish.

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We began with a bevy of beverages. Bluehour has a spectacular bar, and that bar is manned by an outstanding bartender. Not light on the pours, she makes sure you get your money’s worth at her bar. Fortunately, our photographer Dennis is able to make the cocktails disappear, and still produce great photos. Some of us still had to drive – and walk!

Bluehour prints their menu daily to offer the best in the Northwest, and the results are tremendous. Everything we had was just superb, seasoned perfectly, fresh, and portions that were just right.

Lunch at Bluehour is like a clinic on perfect cooking technique. We had a range of different samplers, from a fried poached egg, to pasta, to grilled fish, to a dessert sampler that was truly something special. A plate of heavenly creations by the in-house diva of desserts. In fact, it’s worth the drive from anywhere in the valley just for that dessert. The thing that really struck me about the dessert sampler… you know those jellied applet things you get during the holidays? Terrible right? Kind of like a block of bathtub sealer with stale nuts. Well the same concept is presented on the sampler at Bluehour, so I didn’t expect much. I was wrong. The jellies at Bluehour are absolutely exquisite. Subtle flavors, work together to create a whole new level of delicious. I have a new apprecation for the whole idea. Like many things, I had only had the version where Americans had taken a great European idea, and made it mass-market, and horrid. I invited the Bluehouse dessert chef to come and live at my house. I assured her my wife wouldn’t mind as long as she made the jellies, but fortunately for you, she declined and you can still go to Bluehour and have dessert.

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Lest I forget to mention the rest of the cast at Bluehour, let me touch on the savory items we enjoyed. Kate had a crab sandwich that was superb and it was paired with a salad of fresh greens. I had a grilled fish that was as though it had been caught just minutes ago. It was grilled to perfection and served on a melange of perfect vegetables. Dennis also had a piece of fish — also perfect. We also sampled a bit of pasta. House made (of course) and cooked to a perfect al dente — just excellent. I would venture a guess that any savory item on the menu you order, will be delicious, seasoned perfectly, and cooked to perfection. Ours all were.

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And just to rave a bit more about the desserts…

We finished our visit with an apple tart, accompanied be a little scoop of vanilla ice cream atop a schmear (that’s a word – right?) of cinnamon sauce. Again, unbelievable. Usually, it seems, even in great restaurants, the desserts are often kind of an afterthought. They just seem like they’re available because they have to offer dessert. Not at Bluehour. In fact they could actually change the name up a bit. Maybe to DessertEveryHour?

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FYI:
The blue hour is the period of twilight each morning and evening where there is neither full daylight nor complete darkness. The time is considered special because of the quality of the light. Photographers call it sweet light.

As a result of the perceived specialness of this time, there are various restaurants, theatres and hotels called L’Heure Bleue located worldwide. There is also a women’s perfume by Guerlain of the same name.

In English culture the term was used to describe the period of inactivity and uselessness a drinker encounters when pubs and other licensed premises have closed after the lunch-time session (typically 3:30 pm), but have not yet opened for the evening session (typically 6:30 pm). The blue hour has now been largely abolished in England, Scotland and Wales in favour of all-day opening.

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