One of the towering figures in Portland dining scene is Gabriel Rucker who has won countless accolades with his fine-dining French restaurant Le Pigeon. When I was searching for restaurants to visit with my wife Jun for our Oregon trip, I debated whether to include Le Pigeon but thought the new project from chef Rucker that opened last year and had been considered one of the best new restaurants in the city as well as the country, sounded more interesting, with a “French meets diner” theme. I picked our visit to Canard on the first day, the same day that we had a very satisfying brunch at Tasty n Alder (see my review here https://kenscale.com/2019/07/20/tasty-n-alder/). Because of the amount of fairly rich food we had for brunch, Jun and I were not quite as hungry by the time we finished our tour around Portland. Still, you’ve got to march through when you are on vacation, right? While we probably didn’t try as many dishes as we should’ve had, and there were some misses, Canard still offered a very nice dinner experience.
The menu at Canard is certainly more meat-centric and really makes you feel you are at an American diner than a casual French bistro. Any meal at the restaurant must start with oeufs en mayaonnaise, a couple of eggs with trout roe, bacon, roasted garlic and smoked maple on top. The complexity of ingredients on top of the eggs was quite wonderful and made both of us regain some of our appetites. Having felt guilty with all the calories we consumed at brunch, Jun and I ordered a cabbage and strawberry salad dish with creamy lovage dressing and feta. I was hoping for something extra from the salad, but it was a rather straightforward dish whose greatest value is perhaps to make you feel less bad about eating all the meat dishes here. Jun was feeling too guilty to get a hand of a mini-steam burger with pickles, onion and mustard; I ordered one anyway. It was a decent slider at $6 each.
The biggest miss at Canard was the garlic fries. As Jun is always partial to fries, we ordered one with gouda cheese, chermoula and green goddess dressing. The fries were quite nicely done in terms of crispiness but the flavor was way too much for both of us. One of the reasons I picked Canard for our trip was to try their already famous duck stack, a dish available all day (Canard had been getting a lot of attention as a breakfast/lunch destination too) and consisting of pancakes, duck gravy, tabasco onions and duck egg. This pile of rich and fatty food may scare you at first, but it really started to grow on me as I eat more and more of it. The way the kitchen thought of this combination was quite remarkable, and Jun was equally impressed and couldn’t stop digging this pure decadence. For dessert, don’t skip the Paris-Brest. It may not look that much different from any other French pastry you’ve had before, but the trick used by the kitchen to make this dish extra special is the use of burnt honey cream that gave a really delightful flavor.
Canard doesn’t take reservations, but if you head over for an early dinner time like we did, you probably don’t have to wait. We were lucky to be seated at the counter in front of kitchen where all the cooking was happening. There is full bar with an extensive wine list around France and Oregon (we split a bottle of 2005 pinot noir from Oregon that worked very well with our meal). The free-flowing vibe of the dining space really feeds off of the energy coming from the kitchen and the dining space makes for a great venue for casual meals with friends and family. I certainly wish we had visited Canard when we were starving, not after a big brunch meal on the same day. Still, I give a lot of credit to Canard for reinventing French food with the ethos of classic American cooking and think it’s definitely a restaurant worth stopping by when you live or visit Portland.
KenScale: 8.0/10 (Jun’s Score: 8.0/10)
- Creativity: 8.5/10
- Execution: 8.0/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 8.0/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
- Value: 8.5/10
Address: 734 East Burnside Street, Portland, OR 97214
Telephone: (971) 279-2356