Pacific Northwest summer weather can be a bit unpredictable so planning a summer patio party is a bit of a risk. Recently the Ilani Resort and Casino pulled it off with chefs being interviewed al fresco, diners sitting around a fire pit and the cuisine of two excellent restaurants impressing the guests. We were lucky with the weather. It was summer dining near Portland at its best.
There are plenty of dining choices when visiting Ilani. While there are several fast food restaurants such as Smashburger, and The Long House—a lovely sushi restaurant—there are also two fine dining venues we enjoyed. Both are exciting for locals and worth a visit for those traveling in the Portland and southwest Washington area. At the summer patio party the cuisine of Line and Lure and Michael Jordan’s Steak House were featured.
Sips and Seafood Bites at Line and Lure
Guests gathered at the long fire pit warming the patio. As we looked out over the lush landscape and soft grey skies, we sipped on a refreshing H3 (Columbia Crest Horse Heaven Hills) Chardonnay. Across from us sat two women busily photographing their lavender mimosas, a seasonal specialty.
Line and Lure is known for its seafood brunch and seafood boils. But on the summer eve on the patio it was all about small bites. Served in a little spoon, the smoked sturgeon and caviar over cream cheese with a cucumber was first out. And then we enjoyed a refreshing crab wrap with just a hint of a sweet sauce.
My favorite was served in a shell, the little seared sea scallop coquilles with Applewood smoked bacon, parmesan cheese and beurre blanc.
Chef Interviews Highlight Summer Dining Near Portland
A local NBC affiliate sent out the always fun McKinzie Roth to interview the Line and Lure and Michael Jordan’s Steak House lead chefs, Ryan Zeigler and Cory Hoekstra. Out on the patio they had set up the best summer foods and drinks their respective restaurants were offering for summer. Zeigler focused on the seafood boil and Hoekstra talked about the sourcing of their specialty steaks (mostly local). Upcoming wine and beer dinners were on the radar and of course Hoekstra mentioned that June was National Steakhouse Month.
It was fun watching the fast paced interview and the skill of all participants ensuring the information they wanted to share was neatly packed into the segment for the local news.
To Die For Steaks at Michael Jordan’s Steak House
This was my first time to experience the cuisine of Michael Jordan’s. We entered the restaurant from the casino and immediately noticed the calming effect of the warm colors and dark wood décor. A place to rest after a big win, perhaps?
The wine locker was highlighted with blue neon and throughout the restaurant there were photographs of Michael Jordan’s career and memorabilia. But we were headed for a private dining room where the tables were laden with steaks, sides and salmon.
Waiters took our wine and cocktail orders and we immediately started sharing this family style feast. First the bone-in New York Strip (dry aged 28 days glistening in a Worcestershire butter sauce.) Tender with amazing seasoning. I wanted more steak so was passed the platter of local grass-fed ribeye with a hearty chimichurri and charred onion sauce. Equally tender and amazing. Quickly I surmised that Michael Jordan’s knows steaks and does them right.
But there was more to enjoy. A favorite side being passed around was the creamy mac and cheese. And then there was the cedar planked salmon cooked in a pinot noir reduction, especially good with the asparagus as a side.
The wine flowed. I enjoyed an Amalaya Malbec. And, even though we were totally convinced that MJ’s had great food and we wanted to return, we were told to wait for the surprise desserts. Out came long rectangular plates with beautiful desserts… three on each plate. They were beautiful but the one that I will take with me as a memory of our dinner was the key lime tart with fresh local berries.
Dining at Ilani
I’ve written about a wine dinner at Line and Lure and the resort and Ilani Casino itself. It’s a sparkling new entertainment venue just a half hour north of Portland owned by the local Cowlitz Tribe. It has been a great addition to the area with fine dining and casual dining options.
I have to say that after this summer patio event, I am even more convinced of the quality Ilani offers for summer dining near Portland and Vancouver. I’m always happy to head to Ilani Resort and Casino to see what their chefs are up to. And there is much more to read about Washington and Oregon by Wander writers.
Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with a meal for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.