No offense, but the concept of OMSI as a dining destination is going to take some getting used to. I don't actually recall having ever eaten at Theory, it's main culinary option, but it seems to offer cafeteria-style standards like pizza, mac 'n' cheese, sandwiches, etc. If it's any indication, I have partaken of the food at the smaller, snackier Galileo's, which was predictably mediocre and overpriced. (Also, Theory is managed by Bon Appétit, the same company that operated the cafeteria at the college I attended, and which I always considered to be better than most—with the curious exception of burritos... their burritos were impressively terrible.) And what do you really ask of science museum food, anyway? It's fine.
But OMSI is relentless in its pursuit of new ways to market themselves and draw people in, which is a pluck you gotta admire, and some of what they've come up with is pretty great (science pubs! the Empirical Theater! late-night adult booze parties!). Lately they're setting their sights on Portland's famous interests in fine dining and health—not an unintelligent idea.
As part of this they're re-launching the "Food Luminary" dinners they started toying with last year as monthly events, the first one kicking off this Wednesday (the 22nd). They feature food science demos over wine and hors d’oeuvres, followed by a cooking demo by the guest chef of the month, and a four-course meal created by said chef "in collaboration with Bon Appétit Executive Chef Ryan Morgan," with a focus on healthy and sustainable eating practices. They've scored a pretty impressive lineup, too: Wednesday's dinner is with Lincoln's Jenn Louis and Ben Jacobsen of Jacobsen Salt Co. fame, February's event (on the 11th) is with Urban Farmer's Matt Christianson, and March (14th) is with St. Jack's Aaron Barnett.
The $80 ticket price ain't cheap, but it covers everything, including drinks and gratuity, and tickets are still available for the first one. And if you hate surprises, here's the menu, too:
Bruschetta with whipped schmaltz, prosciutto and smoked salt
Yeasted potato fritters with cocoa nibs and coffee salt, cocoa dust and chili aioli
Nantucket sea scallops with capers, lemon and bottarga, lemon salt
Green cabbage with fermented winter squash, pancetta, walnuts and blue cheese vinaigrette
Braised lamb neck with tomato and orange, ghost chili salt
Carrots with saffron and parsley
Fried brussels sprouts banga cauda
Braised beans with lardo
Salted popcorn panna cotta, vanilla salt
Salted fennel caramels, vanilla salt