In March, I shared my experience dining at Chef Patrick McKee’s Italian popup Estes when it initially launched at Dame Collective. The combination of Patrick’s Italian comfort foods and Dame’s extensive natural wine selection has been such a hit that Estes recently expanded their residency to 5 nights a week (Wednesday to Sunday) at Dame Collective.
Estes’ seasonal menu isn’t the most vegan-friendly by default, but if you make a reservation at Dame Collective and let them know your dietary preferences, Patrick and the kitchen are happy to accommodate. They’ve had some vegetarians at Dame from time to time, but not many vegan diners. Vegan Italian food is hard to come by, and every dish that I’ve tasted at Estes has been truly incredible. If you haven’t experienced Patrick’s elevated Italian comfort cooking yet, you’re seriously missing out. On top of that, Dame Collective is one of the most charming spaces in Portland. Who doesn’t love a wine and pasta date night at a cute wine bar?
This past weekend, I returned for the Estes summer menu after an afternoon of hiking the gorgeous Ramona Falls trail. After 20,000 steps, some delicious handmade pasta was definitely in order. There were several items on the menu that could be made vegan, and I selected two starters and two entrees. Yes, I was very hungry that day and intended to bring some leftovers home. ;)
I savored every bite of this almost-too-pretty-to-eat bruschetta with oven roasted tomatoes, thinly sliced summer squash, mint, pistachio, and vegan mozzarella. I wish I could have toast like this everyday. This was the perfect start to the meal.
Broccoli is my favorite vegetable, and I loved the sprouting broccoli with green garlic, golden raisins, and a tangy vinaigrette. The garlic adds a great texture, and I love the way the florets soak up the vinaigrette. I’m pretty sure that this dish could win over someone who does not like broccoli.
Dame has quite a selection of imported skin contact amber/orange wines, but we asked for something local. They brought out the Vinous Obscura 2018 ‘Apini’ by the co-owner of Les Caves, a subterranean wine bar on Alberta Street. The wine was bright and refreshing with hints of honey that complemented every dish beautifully. The wine label is inspired by the honey-like characteristics of this orange wine.
I can’t remember the last time I had risotto, and to be honest, I was not expecting to see a risotto on a summer menu. That said, this creamy vegan risotto with cherry tomatoes, chanterelles, carrots, radishes, and peas was just perfect. Cassie had the non-vegan version, and she noted that the veggies stood out more in my mine.
Last, but not least, the saffron pasta with chanterelles, corn, basil, and cherry tomatoes took me to my happy place. All of Estes’ pastas are now handmade in-house, so you definitely need to order at least one pasta dish when you visit. This dish is visually stunning, and then the flavors, textures, everything… yum. I loved twirling this pasta dish on my fork and enjoyed the leftovers for lunch the next day.