In a matter of 24 hours I ate at two restaurants with duck themes of varying degrees. The two couldn’t be more unlike each other.
Canard is the walk-in casual Le Pigeon offshoot (which I thought Little Bird was but I’ve not been a permanent resident of the city for two decades, so I could be wrong) with small plates and sassy (yeah, sassy) flavor combinations that might not seem like they would work on paper. I stopped in at happy hour but the most appealing items to me weren’t part of that abbreviated menu. The $5 apéritifs with a choice of many liquors from classic Lillet Blanc to local Imbue Petal & Thorn. I chose Imbue Bittersweet.
The uni Texas toast is luscious and rich with crunchy pops from the yuzu tobiko (which I’m not sure now was roe flavored with the citrus or fruit somehow pearlized to resemble roe). A great balance of fat and acid. Honestly, I don’t even know that it needed the avocado but I often think this secretly.
I love steak tartare in all forms. This version reminded me of Estela’s now classic style, which I could’ve swore also was dusted with parmesan wisps (not true). Maybe it was the fish sauce and crunch? I did not expect a plate of butter lettuce. Every component on the menu jumped at me: fish sauce butter, cashews, ok, maybe not the broccoli. It didn’t totally work for me, though. I think this might be better as a shared item interspersed with bites of other things. It was a little bitter when I wanted unctuousness. Like the Texas toast delivered.
I would go back and try the shrimp toast, wings with truffle ranch, the soft serve of the day…lots of stuff.
The Decoy, on the extreme other hand, is a diner-ish dive bar that I always pass on my way to Scappoose. What finally drew me in was the promise of Chinese food that’s often on the marquee.
I didn’t get the story, but I will. The clientele and waitstaff is what you might picture (despite feeling like a small town in the middle of nowhere, Linnton is still Portland as is only a 15-minute drive from the NW hubbub) but there did appear to be a Chinese couple cooking. Did they come first and decide to make Chinese-American food or did someone decide that there needed to be Chinese-American food and found them?
Though you can’t tell from the above photo, the booths were full this Wednesday night and our waitress was being run ragged.
So yes, there are crab puffs a.k.a. rangoon, kung pao chicken, and chow mein on the back page of the menu that is filled with omelets, burgers, and a NY-style pizza section.
The potstickers were doughy in a good way and nicely toasty on the bottom. I can’t not order crab rangoon when I see it on a menu. These fried pockets of cheese came with sweet and sour rather than the sweet chile sauce accompaniment I’m used to at Thai restaurants or the packets of duck sauce, which is probably regional, from Chinese take-out restaurants. Oh, and salt-and-pepper calamari that was just light coated in rice flour and stir-fried with onions and peppers. It practically qualified as health food. I’m not going to talk about that cheeseburger that snuck in.
Canard * 734 E. Burnside Ave., Portland, OR
Decoy * 10710 NW St. Helens Rd., Portland, OR