Le Bistro Montage, a Portland staple since 1992, serves up an array of solid dishes ranging from exotic to old-fashioned. And with hours of operation stretching until 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday and until 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, you won’t find a better place for a really late night meal.
Offering a unique experience for diners accustomed to private dining, at the Montage you’ll likely find yourself seated in close proximity to your neighbor. The cafeteria-style seating makes for some interesting conversations and close encounters with total strangers. The large, open space decorated with some life-size portraits crafted by local artists (one of the Last Supper) creates an atmosphere that seems something like Middle Ages-meets-Bohemia.
The waiters scurry around in traditional garb, though the atmosphere seems relaxed; it’s obvious that, though edgy, the cuisine here is taken seriously. The full menu, scrawled down on large sheets of paper is extensive and affordable, too.
With dinners like pan-fried oysters, blackened catfish fillet, pork loin served with mango apple chutney and the “mad duck,” comprised of a breast of duck cooked in port wine and orange juice with peaches, orange segments and bacon. It’s clear that the Montage creates some very well-considered dishes.
In contrast to these complete offerings, Montage also caters to those whom may be eating out on a tighter budget, i.e. most college students. Their macaroni menu is a great way to get a good meal that ranges from five to eight dollars. They are famous for their Old Mac, simply comprised of garlic, heavy cream and parmesan. This standard yet tasty dish is hearty, affordable and cheap.
My personal favorite is the Spicy Mac, and I always order it with chicken. Its spicy Cajun gravy, jalapenos, tomatoes and parmesan accompanied by blackened chunks of chicken always hits the spot. The Green Basil Pesto Mac is great, too.
The Montage’s appetizer menu has a number of uncommon offerings, such as the spicy frog legs served with black bread and the gator bites which are Cajun-seared and delicious. Any place that offers frog and alligator is all right by me. Also, you might want to check out the real alligator head and blowfish hanging by the door.
Also, the oyster shooters are always fun. The last time I visited Montage was with a group of people and we all ordered shooters. Before taking them down, I remarked that I never chew them I just swallow the whole thing like a shot. A heated debate ensued: chew or swallow?
Well, that night I found myself outnumbered four to one; the majority claiming that you have to chew them. I was convinced they were wrong and claimed that they were the ones outside of the mainstream, not me. Why else would they be in a shot glass? This attempted logic failed, and insults were hurled upon me relentlessly. My closing argument accused them of chewing oyster bladder – they finally shut up. So, I guess it just depends on the person.
We moved on to dessert, where I found the mud pie to be really, really, good. And after commenting on a few of the tinfoil-to-go creations (a trademark of the Montage) we were out into the night, satisfied and amused by our Montage experience. You should definitely put the Montage in your mouth, and I suggest you swallow, too.