It is all about fresh ingredients at Cyril’s Wine Bar. No, it’s all about healthy, inventive dishes. Or it’s really all about the outstanding beverage choices. Enough already! Cyril’s Wine Bar at Clay Pigeon Winery, in Portland, Oregon, is a great new place for lunch or dinner.
Located in a wonderful space at the corner of SE Oak and Sandy Boulevard, Cyril’s is what many have already come to know as a great evening destination. The good news? Cyril’s now offers a just-the-right size menu for lunch as well. With the first bottling of Oregon pinot noir coming soon to the adjacent Clay Pigeon Winery, we can recommend Cyril’s for a midday meal for a party of any size, from one at the counter to a group in the winery. On the day we visited, there were single diners taking their time over wine and food, a business group of four, some couples, and a larger group accommodated in the winery. All were greeted warmly by Sasha, who then went on to provide attentive and patient service to all, with Laura handling the folks at the counter, as well as most of the food preparation. They’re both smooth operators.
Mediterranean with a Twist
The spring lunch menu features a broadly Mediterranean theme, but do not expect the typical. We shared a salad plate of the three on offer, anchored by Spring Farro. This signature dish has appeared on their menu since they started out, and it does not disappoint. Changing it up seasonally has certainly paid off in its present incarnation, which includes radishes and lentils. Creamy and crunchy in texture, the taste is cheesy and minty, bursting with the flavors of spring.
The plate also came with a Fattoush (bread salad made with pita) of fresh and tender spinach leaves. The sweetness of the dates eases the sharpness of the lemon vinaigrette, and the almonds, crisp pita and sumac rounds out the essence of a good salad’s mixture of flavors and textures.
We also split two of the three sandwiches offered: the Chickalicious, a wonderful concoction of chick peas and feta, dressed with preserved lemon and green harissa (hot chili sauce), on slab bread; and the aptly named Hot Under the Collar, with just the right amount of capicola (cured Italian meat) and Manchego (a dryish Spanish cheese) on a European-style baguette. Sweet, hot peppers add a little bump to the spicy capicola, and arugula ties it all together. The ingredients are fresh, local, chosen with care and put together with intention.
There are hot items too: soup, mac and cheese and a meatball pocket. And then there are the boards: cheese, meat, or both. We asked Sasha to choose three cheeses she likes, and it turns out that that is how she decides what ends up in their deli case, too. There are typically 15 to 20 cheeses on hand, domestic and imported.
Finish with Cheese
Our three cheeses included a goat’s milk from Vermont, sheep’s milk from Seattle’s Flagsheep, and a raw cow’s milk from the French monastery of Abbaye de Tamie. Although our favorite was the Vermont, which was creamy and lived up to its name, Bonne Bouche, the trio taken together offered a lovely and sophisticated ending to a perfect luncheon.
Did we want something besides water with our meal? Well, yes we did. There are 15 wines by the glass or bottle and five local beers on tap. The non-alcoholic selections include kombucha on tap, and, of course, the ubiquitous Steve Smith teas. The wines are about equally divided between Italian, French and Oregon, and well-chosen for their diversity and pairing qualities. We went for the Jan Marc Wine Cellars Reserve Chardonnay, which paired nicely with the salads, moving on to a silky Bandol from Jean Pierre Gaussen for the cheese course.
The wines, like the food, are priced to meet a range of lunch budgets. You can get in and out for anywhere from $10 to $20 bucks, but you absolutely cannot get out without having been treated to simple yet sumptuous food and warm, sparkling service. Go to Cyril’s for lunch, linger if you can, with a book or a friend, and enjoy the good things in life, the Portland way. claypigeonwinery.com/cyrils