Where to Eat in Portland: Muselet


Wagyu Culotte: Panisse, Green Charmoula. Muselet. $32.

Photo: Janelle Albukhari

As a person who’s hopelessly devoted to food, living in the South Waterfront area can be difficult. There aren’t many established eateries here yet, so trust me when I say that the appearance of Muselet Restaurant has been a blissful, fresh breath of air directly from the food gods themselves.

Located a block away from the river front, Muselet is a wine bar and restaurant that serves up Pacific Northwest fare with a European twist. While there are generally a couple of staple items you can always look forward to finding on the decadent menuoysters, scallops and wagyu, among othersMuselet’s commitment to sourcing the highest quality ingredients showcases food at its very best. The menu rotates every few weeks to ensure that each dish focuses on using what’s in season, meaning that there’s always something for us daring foodies to look forward to.

I walk into Muselet with my fiancée, Arthur, and am struck again by the old fashioned elegance of the place. Featuring high, vaulted ceilings, dark jewel tones, comfy couches and great, big windows to let light in, it’s a great intimate spot for date night or plain ol’ people watching.

By 5:30 pm, the wine night is in full flow. Hosted on Saturday from 5-6:30, each week reveals a new vendor along with complimentary tastings. There’s also a daily happy hour or “soiree” menu for the 4-6 crowd on weekdays, too.


Photo: Janelle Albukhari

This week’s vendor is the WillaKenzie Estate winery, and drinks are being poured by Tamara Belgard, a local wine writer. Fellow patrons the wine bottles almost lustily. Each drink Tamara pours me is more delightful than the last, though the 2011 Blanc de Pinotmade by fermenting the grapes in steel barrels rather than traditional oakis fresher, more crisp than any wine I’ve ever tasted.

The cocktail and wine menu is extensive, and so I order a Champs-Élysées, a cocktail with cognac, green chartreuse and a citrusy twist. We decided on the Smoked Chevre to start, a simple dish consisting of goat’s cheese and crudités. You’d think such a plate would be unassuming but nothe staff at Muselet have mastered the art of visual presentation. This dish takes me back to France, with the pairing of creamy cheese against the crispy vegetables working together in perfect harmony for a fresh, deeply satisfying bite.

While the Wagyu provided a great pop of flavor alongside its unique mint and anchovy flavored sauce, it was ultimately the Chlorophyll that took home the dish of the day. The star of the dish was the bed of fresh, vibrant green legumes served along with buttermilk underneath a mussel gelée. The savory umami and unexpected texture of the gelée kept me wanting more, while the freshness of the veggies paired with tangy buttermilk kept my palate light and refreshed.

Savored slowly with my last sip of wine, my Chocolate Semifreddo is everything I want in a dessertsweet, full of textural contrastand so I leave Muselet feeling light and airy, still under the spell of the new restaurant that stole my heart.