3377 SE Division St
Ava Gene’s was voted Portland’s 2013 restaurant of the year, so to say it was on my list was an understatement. We had been dying to try this place. We decided to go on a Saturday night right when they opened. When we got there we had plenty of places to choose from, unfortunately all the chefs table seats were taken, but many other seats were still available. I really do like to watch all the action, but we instead got a little table in the corner with a view of the whole restaurant.
We grabbed the menu and began to look it over. The menu is a bit overwhelming. So much so that I told our server that, and she was amazing. She walked us through each section, giving us descriptions and ideas of what to order, how much to order and ways to order. She took her time and answered all our questions. After that, the menu looked a little less intimidating.
My first tip to you is to come with friends, because this place is made to share. There are so many different things you can try and they offer tastings of their cheeses, meats, salads and bruchetta type appetizers. We chose a tasting of their meats and cheese. It came with 3 cheeses, 4 meats, bread sticks and big house made cracker. I could start off every meal with something like this.
From there we ordered Beet Arancini. I loved these. I will say, you need to love beets to like these. My husband tolerates beets and he took one bite and let me have the rest. I knew when we ordered this that it would not be an item that we would share.
The salads we got were exceptional. I wanted the brussel sprout salad, so our server informed us that this one was heartier with the farro, so she suggested for our second one we choose the broccoli salad that was much lighter. I honestly can’t say which one I liked better. They were definitely different enough that I am glad we got both. Tables around us that had 4 people were ordering the salad samplers. They come out on a board with 3 bowls. Great presentation and some great salads to choose between. I would have liked to try more, but with only 2 of us we had to stay focused.
Our next course was a pasta with Bolognese sauce. I’m not a huge fan, but I let my husband have this one, since I talked him into the beet arancini. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this dish. The pasta was incredible. I loved how it was cooked just perfectly enough to not be over done yet hold on to all the sauce so perfectly. It looks like a small serving, but it was actually rather large.
Our final dish was Pork Osso Bucco. It was nearly fall of the bone tender. Again the flavor, along with the fall puree it was served with, were exquisite.
- Atmosphere was exceptional here. Even though this place gets crowded and busy, it still feels great to be dining here. This is also a great place for special dinner out.
- Service was better than any service we have had anywhere in town. We were told it was great, but we had no idea how exceptional it would be.
- Pricing was definitely on the high side. You will want to try lots of things, since that is how the menu is designed. Be prepared to spend at least $50-$70 per person. The food is exceptional and the service is as well, making it worth it all.
- Drinks definitely included a very inclusive wine list. We don’t drink wine, but enjoyed beer on draft and a few cocktails.
- Ava Gene’s is located on Division St.