C Squared – Lovely Hotel Restaurant for a Loving Valentine’s Day Meal

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After recently trying the bar on top of the new Westin Hotel, my wife and I decided it would be interesting to try the restaurant on the bottom of it. I really didn’t know much about the place other than where it was. The web site, which is part of the Westin site, only had the menus. It wasn’t much, but the food choices looked solid and seemed to indicate an upscale restaurant I would enjoy. We made reservations to go on Valentine’s Day and were excited to try another new eatery.

We arrived a bit early, but the restaurant was only about half full, if that. We were seated within moments in a relatively private section in the back. When looking at the menus, we noticed there were a couple issues with our location. The first issue was that it was very difficult to read the menus due to low lighting in that area. The other issue was that it was extremely quiet there and any conversation, including our plans to take over the world, would have been overheard by anyone in that section. When the waiter came to pour water, we asked to be moved to the main part of the restaurant. Our wish was quickly granted and we got much more well-lit and slightly noisier window seats near the bar.

Once we sat, I became very thirsty and I knew it was time to pay close attention to the drink menu. My wife quickly settled on a cabernet and I picked out the Caipirinha, made with Cachaça Brazilian rum, muddled lime, and agave. We ordered drinks and then discussed which vittles would win our hunger games. I actually thought I had it all figured out without even looking at the menu since I had scoured the one online. As it turns out, the menu in the restaurant was somewhat different than the one procured from the interwebs. It was a curveball for sure, but I would still hit that mofo out of the park.

Our drinks came, but we needed a couple more minutes to make our final food decisions. The question of the night for me became whether or not to order an appetizer. I decided I wanted one and the fact that they had Pan Seared Maine Crab Cakes on the menu definitely helped with that decision. The crab cakes came with Sherry Cayenne Aioli. I love sauces and the aioli sounded great to me. My wife said she’d eat a couple bites of the cakes and went with the Sauteed Maine Lobster with Herb Gnocchi, Butternut Squash, and Kale for her entree. I decided on the Sirloin Steak Burger – Bacon Jam, Local Cheddar, and Fried Pickled Onions on Toasted Brioche with Sea Salt Fries and House Made Ketchup. It was sure to be a winner as I had a burger craving that needed to be satiated.

The waiter returned and the orders were placed with care. When the waiter left, I had definite drink desires and tried my Brazilian beauty. It was outstanding. There’s something about muddled fruit that tastes so refreshing in a drink, particularly when it’s citrus fruit. The lime gave the drink that perfect pop of pure, pleasant fruit flavor. The agave gave it a slightly sweet smoothness to balance out the sour sounds. The wife wilted in her wonderful wine.

While sitting with our drinks and discussing metaphorical metaphysics, the waiter brought a baguette from Standard Baking Co. with a lemon and herb ricotta spread. I dug in. The bread was crusty and delicious by itself, but my second bite required the ricotta. Bite number two was great. The ricotta had much better flavor than regular butter. I continued to pile the bread into my mouth until it was gone stopping only to ask my wife if she was going to have any more. “R woo gunna have anni mur” I said while pieces of partially chewed bread flew out of my mouth. Fortunately, her answer was no and I was able to continue my gorging.

Shortly after the bread tapped out, our crab cakes showed up. Upon arrival, I was a bit concerned about the size of them. They looked dense, but compared to what I am used to around Portland, they were quite a bit smaller. Nonetheless, I dug in with the anticipation of a five-year-old on Christmas. The cakes were quite good. There was plenty of crab and a nice amount of other flavor too. The aioli was excellent, but unfortunately, that was on the sparse side too. Taste-wise, the crab cakes were a winner, but on the portion size, I thought they were a bit weak. I was hopeful that our entrees would be a winner in both categories.

It didn’t take long before the main courses were in front of us. My wife’s lobster dish was quite pleasing to the eye with lots of bright colors. My burger and fries were substantial with a sufficient amount of ketchup for the fries. I started with a fry. It was fresh and crispy. I knew it was good because it didn’t require ketchup to be tasty, but the tomato concoction did add to it for sure. The burger was up to bat next and I squished it so it could fit in my mouth and then slammed it into my face with the force of a thousand pro wrestlers jumping from the top rope. It was perfectly well done and all the flavors in the burger came together to make something great just like the words “dough” and “nut”. The bacon jam was a sweet and salty delight, while the cheddar bit just right and the onions added a nice crunch. The brioche was very good too. Well played C Squared…well played. My wife raved about her lobster dish.

As we ate our delicious food, we realized that this could definitely turn into a Portland place to go. We were pleased with the meal. The drink I had was great. The staff was very accommodating. I thought the restaurant was quite nice. We finished every last crumb of our food. When the waiter returned we weren’t sure if we wanted dessert or not, but decided we would at least look at the menu. There were some interesting options, but we decided against it.

Our meal came to about $110 with tip. It was a little pricey, but it was quite good and I was happy with the overall experience. I do think that this is a place that can survive in Portland and will have some success. Their menu offerings are excellent and their execution is solid. I would definitely go back and I suggest you check it out for yourself. C Squared served their food with love and made it a most delicious Valentine’s Day.

Stay hungry.

Feel free to email me at peterpeterportlandeater@yahoo.com with any thoughts, suggestions, criticisms, or otherwise helpful info or feel free to post your thoughts below. Also, like the Peterpeterportlandeater page on Facebook.

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