The Montage

Portland Montage RestaurantI wanted to take my wife someplace uniquely Portland. Someplace where the cuisine was tasty and the prices were relatively good, and where the atmosphere was memorable.

The place that came immediately to mind?

The Montage.

The Montage is a Cajun restaurant residing underneath the Morrison Bridge in Portland’s south east industrial side. It’s a dinner place, so don’t bother making a lunch date. I made that mistake once and ended up waiting outside the nondescript building  until someone came along and told me the sad news. I suppose I could have looked at the sign in the window and read the hours, but, alas, I did not. Take heed and don’t make the same mistake I did.

Inside, the restaurant is dark, but not gloomy, and has several long benches and picnic style tables in the center of the concrete floor, with booths lining the walls. There’s a bar in the back that has ample spirits.

Our heavily tattooed waiter came and greeted us quickly, pouring two glasses of ice water for us. I ordered a red Sessions and my wife, a glass of white wine. The waiter returned with our drinks and a basket of bread with butter, regular and garlic. I marveled at the voracity with which we ate bread. Why do we become such voracious lovers of bread when we go out to eat?

Famous for its homemade and numerous unique varieties of macaroni and cheese, I ordered the ham and mac. My wife ordered the fried catfish with a side of succotash.  We both got salads to start with, and I slathered mine with a generous helping of the house dressing, which is very good, and which I can’t seem to replicate at home.

There’s a gentle hum of conversation around us, but my wife and I have no trouble hearing each other. As we wait for the main course, we talk about our days, which were good and now made even better by the pleasant company.

The main course arrives in short order and we both eat in relative silence, savoring the numerous flavors tickling our taste buds and stopping only to occasionally wash our food down with beer, water or wine, or to dab our faces with the cloth napkins. The Montage is also known for their ample portions and despite a valiant effort, we can’t finish our plates. The waiter takes the remainder of our food and when he returns, he proudly presents his aluminum foiled art. My food has been wrapped into the shape of a giraffe and my wife’s has been formed into a robot. I’d forgotten this fun feature of The Montage; “leftovers art”.

The waiter brings out the bill which is around $40 including tip. My wife hooks her arm through mine and we walk out to our car, enjoying the hum of the cars overhead crossing the Morrison Bridge.

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