Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Beautiful Evening in Portland: Dinner at DOC

I was between meetings with some Can-You-Help-Mes when my blower went off. Dolly-girl. “It’s our anniversary,” she purred. I panicked. “Ah-a-a” “It’s been one year in our dream cottage. Let’s celebrate!” Whew, I knew it wasn't that anniversary! “Sure, I remember, Dolly-girl.” Who could forget carrying all her damned books upstairs and then downstairs and downstairs and then upstairs. “Whatever you say. Pick a place. I'm there." I left business unfinished and headed home.

Dolly-girl was on her fifth or sixth redux of the once-over on a joint over in Gourmet Gulch. Said its name was DOC. “You mean like Doc’s Diner up in Whitehorse?” She and me had had a joe and a plate of blowout patches up there once-upon-a-time when I was chasing someone-who’d-gone-south-on-a-debt north. “No, like ‘Denominazione di Origine Controllata’, it’s about wine. It’s Ehtalian.” Dolly-girl is real good with words and such—she tells me Eye-talian is supposed to have a "soft-eye". I tell her the only soft eyes I see are hers. That gets me a smile and a wave of hair over the face, know what I mean?

We perambulated over to DOC, a small store-front looking place on the northeast side of Stumptown—30th at Killingsworth. I looked in the window and thought, what the—you go in through the kitchen! We walked in and I gave it the wall-to-wall. There was something off, but what was it? It smelled like heaven might if heaven's a class joint. It looked like what it claimed to be, a trattoria, narrow room with a few sit-downs sporting linen, but a long table on the side—just wood—for walk-ins. Low light, but no place for trouble to pop up that you couldn’t pop it. The hashslinger and his helper were working the range like rodeo cowboys on the right and the dishman was to the left. No chiquitas on this crew. What seemed to be the one and only soup jockey, who goes by the name Austin, gave us a nod and a what’s up. “Dolly-girl for 7. We’re early,” Dolly-girl told him. “No problem there, come on in.”

Missy put us at a table in the back—I couldn’t have picked it better if we’d had the run of the place. We sat down. He brought us some Bull Run and asked if we had something else in mind when it came to drinks. We did. The print on the whadda-ya-drinking was too fine for me and besides, there were dozens of brown bags and I have a hard time remembering my address. But it didn’t make a nevermind. Missy squatted down by the table and asked us what we liked. He got up, brought over a couple bottles. “Try these. If they don’t work, I’ll try again” He musta been a good listener, ‘cause the wine he poured hit the spots we were aiming at, you follow?

The whadda-ya-want is small, like it’s supposed to be in a joint like this. But even with small, the choice was tough. We sent Missy away for the sheaves and the martinis-hold-the-gin opener while we scratched our lids. I could tell Dolly-girl was headed for the rice-a-roni, one of her favorites. The fish were swimming towards me—Lucky Stars on the first take and Ferdinand and Cantharellus for the follow-up. Missy comes back and sets down the pane e olive. We talk blue plates. “Yeah, the sardines are good, but I wouldn’t miss the veal with pancetta and bread crumbs.” “Sounds like our song,” I said and Dolly-girl gave it the up and down.

We said here’s-looking-at-you with our skid row and set into the bread and olives. No doubt about it, these eats were speaking to us, and in the old-world way. The olives and the oil they were in would take you back to Italy like Dean Martin on a Zenith, capiche? Missy brought the sardines and veal. These Lucky Stars had never seen a can, I’ll tell you, and instead of mustard and oil, they were lazing around on some murphies and pepos. The youngster was fried up with day-old sheaves and bacon and couldn’t be beat.

Missy came back with round two and gave us the nod on some different skid row. “Dolly-girl, yours was the risotto with artichoke and pancetta, and it’s black cod with yellowfoot mushrooms and lemon for you, pal-o-mine. Drink these." That hashslinger's got it, I'll tell you. The Ferdinand was done just right and was sea salty. The rice-a-roni left Dolly-girl's eyes spinning. She saved room and finished the meal with something sweeter than me.

Just short of three Grants paid what we owed plus our thanks-very-much for Missy and the boys. We walked into the night with me still musing about what was off. Must have been remains of the day ‘cause there’s sure nothing off at DOC, follow pal-o-mine?


Anonymous said...

Me and Slim gotta check out this one. Sounds like I gotta leave my gum outside at this joint, and not stick it under the table. Fancy smancy!


Ronna said...

Okay, ya's gots me for sure and I'm there. But sardines with murphies and pepos. What the...?

Karen said...

Can't wait to try it out. But, blow out and patches?? WTF?