Ebb & Flow opened in November when our state wasn’t covered in many feet of snow. Since then, it’s been pretty busy. We decided to visit on the Friday before Valentine’s Day in order to avoid the blizzard that never was. There was limited seating availability, but we managed to snag an early reservation so we could get in to try the place.
I met my wife at the restaurant and we were promptly seated once we were both there. I remembered the layout from previous visits to the other restaurants at that location – bathrooms near the entrance, semi-circle bar, multiple seating sections. We sat with a two-sided drink menu and a one-sided food menu. I soaked in the memories of restaurants past and browsed the menus a bit while talking shop with my wife.
One side of the drink menu had bottles of wine and the other had glasses and signature cocktails. My wife ordered a glass of sauvignon blanc when the waitress came to the table. Though there were a number of fine looking beverages, I decided to pass in favor of water. My wife and I chatted a bunch about birds, bees, Burt’s Bees, burpees, and Slurpees. When the waitress came back however, we had to admit that we hadn’t chatted about what to order for food quite yet.
We finally peered at the food menu with eyes intent upon ordering. It was going to be a challenge, I figured, as they actually had a number of items of interest to me. In particular, the non-entrees, including soups, salads, and apps, all looked to be dinner winners. I had to narrow down my choices though. When someone came back to take our order, I decided to go with an appetizer of Portland roll, broiled rock crab, and Zataar. I threw in the Seared Dayboat Scallops with roasted cauliflower, hazelnuts, chive, and lemon caramel. The wifely companion went with Olive Oil Fried Zucchini Fritters with mint and yogurt and an entree of one of the specials – Roasted Cod with pumpkin puree, mushrooms, and brown butter.
While we waited for our food, we were delivered a house-made bread. It was thin, round, and had a smattering of sesame seeds and some sort of butter or oil on it. It was light and delicious. We gnawed on that and continued engaging in conversation. After a short time, I was told that the bread for my app was being baked fresh and that it would be 15-20 minutes before it was ready. We were in no rush, so I was fine with that. The waiter told me he would keep me apprised of the bread situation. Not long after, the fritters made an appearance.
We both dug into the fritters since I didn’t have an app yet. They were good with a crispy outside and a yogurt and mint smear that added a little umph. I think my wife like them better than I did as they weren’t necessarily something I would have ordered, but they were solid nonetheless. I ended up eating about half of them as my wife was generously making sure I didn’t starve before my food came out.
We hadn’t received any more food yet when I noticed that we had three different people waiting on us and asked why that was. I was told that the wait staff work in teams by section. This was surprising as I can’t remember having seen that recently, but the service was pretty good. The team in our area definitely worked well together and had everything down to a science.
Soon our entrees came out and I was perplexed that I hadn’t received my appetizer yet. It had been about 15-20 minutes since I was told that was how long it would take. Additionally, I hadn’t received an update as promised. When I asked, I was told the wait would still be 15-20 more minutes. I cancelled the order as I didn’t want to eat an appetizer after my entree. It was unfortunate, because I would have ordered something else instead had I known ahead of time.
Despite the app mishap, I was ready to dig in to what I did have. Our entrees looked great. My scallops and cauliflower sat in a pool of caramel and wore a hazelnut derby. My wife’s cod also waded in her edible accessories, being caught in an undertow of the pumpkin, butter, and mushrooms. We forked up our food – each reveling in that first new-restaurant bite. My scallops were excellent. They were perfectly seared and clearly not the cheap nightboat mollusks everyone dreads. The caramel added a pleasant and surprisingly not overwhelming sweetness. The cauliflower was great too, adding a critical cruciferous crunch which was only slightly outdone by the hazelnuts. My better half tasted her sea creature and may have been heard exclaiming “oh my cod!” as she chewed it.
We made the most of our meals, eating every last drop sans a bit of caramel and a drop of brown butter. After we finished, the wait staff offered us a free dessert to make up for the app confusion. Never one to turn down free food, we accepted. After we got the verbal dessert menu, we ended up choosing – I forget the exact name – a pastry drizzled with honey and dusted in cinnamon. When we got it, I thought it looked a little baklava-esque. When I tried it I was wowed. The outer phyllo dough gave it perfect texture and the honey and cinnamon gave me the happys. I quickly shoveled it in my mouth as my wife tried to consume some before it was all gone. It was exceptional.
We finished up and waited for our bill which came to $74 prior to tip which included a free dessert. Except for the app issue, everything was great. The atmosphere is casual and relaxed, the service was top notch, and the food was delicious. Prices are in-line with pretty much any Portland higher-end casual dining establishment. The bar is pretty sweet too and will be my home base when I return. Ebb & Flow warrants a visit. Go with the flo. Check them out.
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