The North Point
As Noah Talmatch points out, there are a lot of fantastic places to eat in Portland, but those aren’t necessarily the spots you go to kick back and socialize. And while we have some great neighborhood bars, even the best pub grub can feel heavy after a few too many UFOs (unidentified fried objects). It was with this observation that The North Point, a casual yet decidedly Parisian flavored restaurant, was born.
Brothers Dan and Noah Talmatch wanted to “bring a piece of Paris” to Portland. “There was no place that was like a bistro, relaxed,” Noah says. “Here, everybody is allowed to sit as long as they want.” Instead of rushing off to the next culinary hotspot, customers are encouraged to hang around, meet some new friends, and drink some good wine.
After hearing coworkers rave about the flatbreads (our photographer Cyndi actually told me it was “the best thing I’ve eaten, seriously, ever”), I realized I had to visit this funky little restaurant. Eclectic art adorns the brightly painted walls and I spot a faded, worn-to-pieces pair of blue jeans hung up over the register. Like everything at The North Point, the decor is intended to be casual chicwelcoming but not cutesy. It works wonderfully, as do the beautifully arranged cheese plates, complete with slices of egg, toasted baguette, pickled onions, and artistically placed dollops of fig compote and mustard. Too pretty to eat? Not at all. We devour hot, fatty slices of halloumi, a wedge of sweet and crumbly cranberry-studded wensleydale, and a chocolate goat cheese that sends one of our dining companions into an instant food coma. Earthy, tangy, creamy, and sweet, this chevre blurs the lines between dessert and appetizer, and I can’t help but think what a righteous grilled cheese it would make. My favorite, however, is the manchego, which I eat stacked on a crusty piece of bread with ample pickles, savory breadcrumbs, and grainy mustard.
Although we’re somewhat full from the fromage extravaganza, we’re excited for the arrival of our main course. While my lunches don’t usually come with courses, this is a special occasion. Following the cheese plate, we’re treated to more typical lunchtime fare: sandwiches and salads. Cyndi is a vegetarian, and after tasting a few bites of her sweet potato, goat cheese, and spinach flatbread, I’m (almost) a convert. My salad is also excellent, and comes piled high with sauteed mushrooms and salty cheese. At the suggestion of our friendly server, I opt to order the mushroom flatbread on a salad, rather than in a sandwich. Turns out, you can do that with any of their menu items, and I appreciate the ability to swap out the bread for more greeneryespecially after that rich cocoa chevre.
Of course, one doesn’t eat copious amounts of cheese without wine, and The North Point is fully equipped to handle this kind of leisurely, multi-course, multi-drink meal. Modeled after the relaxed bistros of Europe, The North Point is a place where you can feel comfortable eating with your hands and nursing a good drink. While the wine listdisplayed in a nicely literal fashion on the back of a wine bottleis extensive, you can also choose something a bit harder to pair with your meal. The cocktail list includes classics like Negronis and Old Fashioneds, as well as trendier items, like the Kiwi Kool Aid or the Mango Peach-a-tini.
But if you’re visiting for lunch, you might want to forget about these libations. After gorging myself on cheese, I was sluggish on my return to work. I can only imagine what would have happened if I swapped out my diet coke for a Vanilla Bean Martini. Although, come to think of it, that would have gone wonderfully with the chocolate cheese.
35 Silver St. | Portland | 207.899.3778 | northpointportland.com