Saturday, May 26, 2012

Rave Review: Natural Selection

Not too often can I definitively state that something is my favorite.
I don't have an overwhelmingly favorite pair of shoes or a favorite song or even a favorite color.
Today I discovered a new favorite. A favorite restaurant to be exact: Natural Selection.

With all of the phenomenal vegan restaurants in Portland, I didn't ever think I'd be able to pick a true favorite. One week it's Portobello, the next week it's Vita and the next, Native Bowl. But Natural Selection takes the vegan cake. It was hands down one of the best culinary experiences I have ever had (and I have had multiple Prix Fixe meals, including places like Gramercy Tavern in the pre-vegan days so I DO have something to compare it to :)

I was absolutely blown away by the ambiance, quality, freshness and overall experience of the dining at Natural Selection. It really was unmatched by anything else I have seen on the vegan restaurant circuit and it was glaringly obvious why is has such fabulous critical acclaim. Aaron Woo is a master.

Pretty, huh? And my wonderful boyfriend had that stunning vase of flowers delivered to our table. I'm a lucky little chick pea.

The menu changes weekly, rotating options to reflect seasonal selections and incorporate locally sourced ingredients.

This week, the menu was as follows:

cardoon soup v/g
spring garlic, meyer lemon, celeriac, mint oil
strawberry & thyme risotto g
roasted ramps, fennel, balsamic, basil   
baby beet & orange salad v/g
field greens, pear, dates, radish, pistachio
wild watercress & strawberry salad g
apple, endive, blue cheese, raisin croutons 
asparagus & artichoke caponada v/g
olives, capers, peppers, turnip, quinoa 
morels, fiddleheads & trofie pasta    
carrots, pimenton, spring garlic, parmesan
strawberry & passionfruit parfait v/g
almonds, white chocolate & orange mousse
chocolate & cinnamon pots de creme 
kumquat, vanilla cream, cookies

v = vegan  g = gluten free

Naturally, my course progression was made easy because I just went with the straight vegan option, but the Chefs were super cool and made most of Colin's dishes vegan as well so I could try them :)

Plus there were lots of "in-between" courses to keep you busy. The whole experience took just over 2 hours and I loved every second of it.

 This endive and shaved onion mini-salad was one of the first "in-between" courses I was referring to (aka not on the menu). Fabulous. And topped with little purple flowers so it was cute, too :)

The Cardoon soup. I think I may have licked the bowl to get every last drop.  Mmm mmm good.

Colin and I both got the baby beet and orange salad. Because we both love baby beets. And oranges. Solid selection.

Another little "in-between" course - strawberries, marcona almonds and a little leek? I can't remember what all comprises the delectable little morsel on this plate.

The strawberry and thyme risotto (without the creme fraiche- keepin it vegan!)

My main course - the asparagus and artichoke caponada. I think I may have actually shed a tear at this point, this meal was so incredible.

 Aand last but certainly not least - the strawberry and passionfruit parfait. I ate every bite. There was not a single part of this meal I was going to sacrifice. Even those candied almonds.

So happy with my tiny carrot!

In sum - an incredible experience. I don't know how any anniversary will ever match up to this one, but we have a lot of years left in us so we'll have to figure something out :)

Live long and prosper, lovers! Enjoy all that Portland and Aaron Woo have to offer!

And Happy 2 year anniversary to my wonderful boyfriend.

Awww. Warm fuzzies.


  1. That place looks incredible! Your meals look so, so amazing.
    Happy anniversary!

  2. Thanks! It is incredible - definitely try it if you get a chance!