Sunday, February 24, 2008

Taking a Break

You know how Saturdays go. If you have small kids, there are the inevitable soccer-baseball-football practices or horseback-riding lessons, not to mention the housecleaning-dishes-laundry that's been piling up all week at everyone's house (including mine, even though I work at home), plus walks for the dog or trips to the grocery store. You catch my drift.

The perfect martini

But yesterday I decided to jump off the conveyor belt and take a couple of hours to ride Max out to the Expo Center with a couple of friends and listen to Michelle Kaufmann (see post, below), architect and green building advocate. Afterwards, it being 4 pm or so, we were in need of conversation, food and libation, and rather than heading to our respective homes to dredge up something for dinner, we had the bright idea to go together to (you guessed it...) a bar.

Clockwise from bottom: Salutation, Nootka, Chef's Creek. Not shown: Kumamoto and Fanny Bay

I hadn't been to the Alberta Street Oyster Bar & Grill since it had closed due to the owner's financial difficulties and reopened when the chef took it over and arranged new financing, keeping much of the previous (and excellent staff) intact. And am I glad we did. We started with an excellent Hendrick's martini and a dozen-and-a-half of the freshest, most lovely oysters I've had in a long time.

Mignonettes (clockwise from bottom): champagne; cucumber-horseradish; black pepper; orange fennel

The exotics were the Salutation Cove oysters from Bedeque Bay on Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, that had been described as creamy and briny. While excellent, they were a bit bland compared with the Northwest representatives, though we scarfed them all down in no time, completely ignoring the lovely and tasty plate of four mignonettes, any of which would be great on a salad with some nice olive oil.

Beet salad

We followed those, at K's insistence (don't you hate friends like that?), with Alberta Street's terrific fries and spicy aioli along with a salt-roasted beet salad with candied almonds and smoked duck. The fries were crispy and not at all greasy, and as for the salad, what's not to like about a combination like that except that it doesn't come with free refills?


Last but not least we had a big bowl of their blue mussels with pork jowl, black mustard and beer. Needless to say, the mussels were perfectly steamed and much sopping of broth was done by everyone. It was a little scary to have this much fun playing hooky from household chores, but we may just have to do it again sometime. And soon.

Details: Alberta Street Oyster Bar & Grill, 2926 NE Alberta St. Phone 503-284-9600.

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