Even though the Willamette River is just a whisper away from downtown Portland, Ore., the RiverPlace Hotel is the only hotel located right on the beautiful waterway, making it a hot commodity and a cool urban retreat.
Jogging and biking paths are steps from the door and so are all the sites and bites the city has to offer. In the warmer months, guests can partake in the hotel’s daily free wine hour in the Courtyard (as opposed to the lobby), taking in the view and making s’mores in the fire pit.
The hotel boasts a smart, stylish, but somehow also homey restaurant called Three Degrees, with a knockout view and an inventive chef, Thomas Dunklin, who is not afraid to dabble in flavors, tastes, styles, and genres.
Appetizer menu highlights include hamachi served with citrus-soy, bird’s eye chile, crispy ginger, and green onion; beef short rib served with uni, charred sweet pepper, black brioche, and leek chimichurri; slow-cooked pork belly with butternut-apple purée and pickled radish; lamb riblets with parsnip, chile caramel, and cashew; and ginger BBQ shrimp with lemongrass, Worcestershire, and a Cheddar-chive biscuit.
The hamachi is fresh and the accompaniments are bright. The short ribs are tender and perfectly seasoned. The pork belly and lamb riblets are the perfect fall bites. And the shrimp has an Asian flair that makes it a great pairing with the hamachi.
As for soups and salads, my picks are the Sauvie Island organic greens salad with honey-cider vinaigrette, radish, and herbs, and the kabocha squash bisque with confit duck, apple, and malted crème. The later is a creative take on confit and is melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
When it comes to entrées, it would be impossible to go wrong with the 30-day dry-aged rib-eye, which is offered with roasted potatoes, wild mushrooms, and house-made Worcestershire, or the grilled hanger steak accompanied by cauliflower, oyster emulsion, and herbed beef jus. Both beef picks, I know, but both such delicious cuts of meat, and both so painstakingly prepared, that you have to give both their due.
Now for the really fun stuff. The dessert menu simply has too many terrific choices. So forgive me for only being able to narrow down my "yes, pleases" to four. My favorites are flourless chocolate cake with roasted banana ice cream and peanut brittle, honey panna cotta with berries and granola streusel, pecan pie with sweet potato ice cream and bourbon caramel, and polenta pound with cake rum syrup, corn ice cream, and caramel corn.
Chocolate will almost always be my top pick on a dessert menu. But the fall themes and interesting spins on old favorites make the other options equally hard to resist.
In a picturesque city like Portland with so many restaurants to choose from, Three Degrees is one option that offers great food with a view in a setting so cozy you won’t want to leave. And since it’s in the RiverPlace Hotel, you don’t even have to.