Tonight’s Agenda: Luce for Dinner & The Music of Pink Floyd with the Oregon Symphony
I’ve decided that, overall, I prefer Eastside dining to Westside dining in Portland. Westside dining is just too well-behaved. No Chef wants to disappoint the sophisticated Westside diner by being-heaven forbid-experimental. You order a Coq au vin at any decent Westside French restaurant and that’s exactly what you’ll get. Perfectly prepared for the discerning Westside palate. But if you want some originality and experimentation, you go to the Eastside where we’ve always been a little deviant. Food choices are a little riskier here; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Tonight, at Luce, it worked.
I like the simple unpretentious decor of Luce with its black and white checkered floors and wooden table and chairs. The floors are a bit loud here, but the food more than compensates for the noise. This is my kind of menu. I’m not much of a meat eater, so to find a menu that has many vegetarian options, is a real treat. I like the half-order options for the pastas, as well as the reasonable portion sizes. It’s really nice to be able to leave a restaurant and not feel guilty or bloated for the rest of the evening because I feel like I just finished eating a meal that could feed my entire family.
You will not find a prix fixe menu here because this menu is all about choosing exactly what you like. This also suits me well because, most of the time, I find that the appetizers and sides are far more interesting than the main courses. The Cappelletti Brodo has a pillowy pasta floating in an amazing chicken broth—and I don’t even eat chicken. The flourless chocolate cake was surprisingly light with a delicate chocolate flavor.
My “main course” for the evening was The Music of Pink Floyd with the Oregon symphony. I love the diverse music that the Oregon Symphony can take on. I have heard them perform jazz, pops, and of course, classical music. Tonight we rocked and rolled.
The Arlene Schnitzer Hall is the perfect venue to rock and roll at my age because I can do it sitting. No standing around waiting for the band to begin. I’ve got my comfy seat like a rock queen on her throne. Pink Floyd seems to appeal to a diverse crowd. I saw everything from suits to t-shirts, younger and older. The symphony audience should always be like this.
The lead singer, Randy Jackson, was a very effective lead singer. He was engaging and generous with the audience and his backup band. My favorite part of the show was when he brought up five audience volunteers to help him perform the lyrics of “The Wall.” Their performance was not unlike the classroom they were singing about. You have the “teacher,” singer Randy Jackson, calling on his “student” singers to perform their lines. There are always some students who try to fake their answers, in this case, singing the lyrics, and then you have the students who always have the perfect answer, or in this case, the correct lyrics. The dunces of this “class,” were truly hilarious! I am still laughing. I have never heard anyone grunt through the lines of “The Wall!” It just doesn’t get any better or more fun.
I wish more restaurants had their own parking lot. I get tired of street parking all over Portland.
Dinner and a show is the classic date night. For dinner we decided on Luce on E Burnside. It has been a while since I drove down Burnside. Besides Music Millennium, where I bought many a slab of vinyl growing up in NE including Dark Side of the Moon, it is yet another street in Portland that has radically changed since I was young. There was a long line outside of the Screen Door in anticipation of its opening. I suspect we will never try that restaurant as I loath waiting. At 58 very second brings you closer to the grave, an end point brought home every day at work. I resent waiting for anything. So I hope someday they have reservations, since I love Southern cooking, but no meal is worth
Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way.
Luce is Italian, cafe style, a trattoria I suppose, with black and white floors with only a handful of tables. They do no take reservations, but we got there early enough we didn’t have to wait.
Luce is simple Italian and proof that sometimes simple food done perfectly can be superior to more complex fair.
I had the crostini with chicken liver (not as tasty as foie gras, but then what is?) and crostini with fig and goat cheese for appetizer.
The main course was the pappardelle with rabbit. Let me tell you about the rabbit, George.
Run, rabbit run.
Dig that hole, forget the sun,
The rabbit did not get away. Perfect dish. Pappardelle derives from the verb “pappare”, to gobble up, well named in this case.
And it was nice I could get a half portion for dinner. Us geezers do not need the large portions plus it left room for desert, a wonderful buttermilk panna cotta, a form of Italian pudding, with blueberries.I always like a cold dessert. I ate my meat, so I got some pudding, since
“If you don’t eat yer meat, you can’t have any pudding. How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat yer meat?”
The only disappointment was the beer. I tried the Italian and, like most of the beers from Europe, it had an odd metallic taste I think of as aluminum. There does not appear to be a definitive reason for this odd metallic taste. But it is enough to try a wine instead.
I do not know much about Italian wines, so I asked the waiter to pick one and I have since forgotten the name, but it was rich and tasty. Luce is an excellent trattoria and, with half sized portions, delicious and non-filling. Now if only they offered some local brews it would be perfect.
There are several albums that I had to purchase multiple times because I wore down the vinyl to the point the records became unlistenable due to pops and hiss.
One was Born to Run, with three vinyl copies before the invention of digital. The other was Dark Side of the Moon, with 2 vinyl copies.
I know every note of every instrument of every song and I have Dark Side on the headphones as I type this. Kerry just interrupted Great Gig in the Sky with a question. Never interrupt Great Gig in the Sky for anything less than a life threatening event. Sheesh.
I was a little hesitant to see the music of Pink Floyd with the Oregon Symphony, in part because they promised a rockin’ (yes, n apostrophe) evening. No symphony was ever rockin’ and while Pink Floyd is certainly epic, it is also not rockin’. Zeppelin or Springsteen rocks. Floyd? Epic? Absolutely. Rockin’? Not so much.
But it turned out to be a good, if slightly odd show. It was the orchestra that made it odd and took a little getting used to, but Floyd is very amenable to an orchestral treatment.
We go to a lot of tribute bands and this is basically a tribute band with orchestral back up. But a most excellent tribute band and orchestra.
The first half was an almost note for note reproduction of Dark Side and was fine. But while I love a good tribute band, I like them to also make the music their own, which occurred more in the second half, with solo’s and riffs by the band. But the sit down of the symphony doesn’t lend itself to the party atmosphere of a good rockin’ (n apostrophe) show.
I had a great time and the music was excellent. I love all kinds of live music. And when it was done?
Can you stand up?
I do believe it’s working, good
That’ll keep you going through the show
Come on, it’s time to go. I had become comfortably numb.
But for once we were not the oldest couple in the audience. Oregon Symphony is geezer central.
So much to do more to do and say but for now
Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the Portland way
The time is gone, the entry is over, thought I’d something more to say