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Monday, August 30, 2004
Le Bistro Montage
If you've lived in this city for longer than twenty minutes you've probably eaten in Le Bistro Montage. If not, uh, you're not alone. I didn't make a journey down there until last summer.
So is the place worthy of being placed among Portland's best restaurants every year in Willamette Week? I don't know. I can't afford to eat in Portland's best restaurants. This much I do know: the Montage serves alligator, which tastes like a combination of pork sausage and chicken. If I could justify the $14.50 price tag for their gator jambalaya more often, I would swing down there at least once a week.
The restaurant is noted for its Cajun food and kooky, so hip it bleeds from the ears Chuck E. Cheese meets high dinning atmosphere (whew). The tables are communal, wine is served in water glasses and the staff wears weird, matre de/punk outfits. One cocktail on the extensive drink menu, with Night Train as a primary ingredient, runs $5,000. Renaissance-era retreads cover the walls. In one, a trio of Romans examine a painting of a heart as one cringes. In another, Jesus lords over a black and white Last Super. Near the kitchen there's a painting of a table buckling under the weight of a feast;, among the fixin's a pile of dead chickens and several bottles of Rainer beer. The Montage sits in the shadows underneath a Morrison Bridge off ramp and, from the outside, looks like a long forgotten, rotting motel. It's also conveniently located across the street from City Liquidators. Neat.
The restaurant is no doubt the subject of countless city lore, among it the passing of its founder, Jon Beckel. He died under mysterious circumstances in 2000 after ill-fated trip to a local justice center. I wish I knew more about the place but there isn't much about it online.
Every time I've been there, the Montage has been filled with yuppies and the staff has been snooty. Does this matter? No, because they serve alligator and there's this:
Instead of being placed in boxes, leftovers are made into balloon-style tinfoil art. The customers around me had their dinners made into silver cats and wine bottles. As you can see, I got a snail.
OK, I'm pretty sure this is the only photo in existence mixing a tinfoil snail with a Bill Murray movie and an Osama Bin Laden novelty firework. Can I please have an art grant now? Pretty please?