Braised whole rabbit with raw and cooked spinach, carrot, leek, radish, green garlic, white wine, rabbit stock, and nettle pesto
It's not surprising that a carrot-munching rabbit would taste this good cooked with his favorite entrées. Ned Ludd's tender braised bunny shares the stage with spring vegetables prepared both raw and cooked, adding savory layers of complexity. Just when you think you've got this dish figured out, it transforms with a bite of raw radish and rabbit, and then changes again when a cooked carrot mixes with the broth and a raw lettuce leaf. It's like eating the entire delicious food chain in one go.
Ned Ludd, 3925 NE MLK, $16
Radicchio with calçots, sunchoke, and ash
Seasonality is so super important at Ración that I think chicories have already replaced radicchio—either way, this is worth trying. The dish, the very enthusiastic chef informed me from the open kitchen, pays homage to the spring onion grills in Valls, a Catalan town in Spain. There, the onions are grilled en masse, steamed in newspaper, and served up charred and delicious. Here, a molecular gastronomy approach turns the burned onion to a sauce that sets off the raw greens and sous-vide veggies for a lot less scrilla than a trip to Europe.
Ración, 1205 SW Washington, $11
Cauliflower, asparagus, almonds, and honey vinegar
GIRL MOMENT ALERT! Recently at Ava Gene's I ate eight salads, drank pink wine, and finished it all off with a slice of bittersweet chocolate cake. I couldn't have been happier. It was hard to pick a favorite, but ultimately, the asparagus dish won the day. Sliced thin and raw (a technique I lack the cojones to do at home, and not just because I'm a lady), they're served with almonds for crunch, mint, and slightly sweet vinegar. The cauliflower is nearly unidentifiable; it's ground up into tiny bits that transform it into more of a hearty grain. Like Ryan Gosling, my girlie self couldn't help but be drawn to it.
Ava Gene's, 3377 SE Division, $12
Want more of the best veggies Portland's got to offer? You got it! Check out our Mercury staff picks for a delicious list of fantastic local vegetable dishes that are worth our verbiage and your dollars!