Perhaps in deference to Bugs and the memory of Harvey — my friend Faryl’s late pet – I had not ordered rabbit in years and years. Until this past week, that is.
Somehow I found myself noshing on two wildly different preparations of the little mammal at two vastly different restaurants: Emilitsa and Sonny’s.
First up was the Greek rustic version at Emilitsa last Saturday. Stuffed with spinach and Greek cheese and served with a raisin and spice-filled couscous, my dish arrived looking pretty and promising. Although cooked to a nice tender texture and not unpleasant in flavor, I found the dish rather bland. My fork kept snaking over and spearing chunks of Adam’s tasty lamb instead.
I also kept thinking wistfully back to the bright, crisp pop of the stellar Greek salad we’d demolished just before-hand. I stopped eating my main course and held out for dessert. Good thing. The yogurt with honey and stewed fruits was amazing. Dense and tart, the yogurt was the elusive “thick and naturally sweetened” kind never to be found on grocery shelves (at least not in this country).
I also thoroughly enjoyed the smooth Greek red wine we ordered; and the service at Emilista was prompt and attentive without being too invasive. I’ve read many glowing reviews about the rabbit stew and phyllo-wrapped rabbit appetizer at Emilitsa, so my conclusion is — I simply got the wrong rabbit. Silly me.
My second bunny came bundled in a tortilla and doused with rich mole sauce. The rabbit enchilada at Sonny’s was the most popular entree ordered at our food blogger dinner last night. The writers of The Blueberry Files, Portland Food Heads and Edible Obsessions all had the dish, as well.
While I loved the mole sauce and the melted Manchego cheese was yummy, I found everything else about my main course to be unbearably dry. The rabbit itself was overcooked, the tortilla tasteless and the accompanying rice parched and brittle. Not a home run.
Other dishes at the table were hits, however. Adam raved about the special pork belly appetizer and A. from Portland Food Map seemed entirely satisfied with his mariscada del noche, a sort-of seafood paella with lobster, cod, and mussels piled on rice. Though the service was rather rocky (Sonny’s is still new and working out the kinks), the atmosphere rocked with a hip, exotic vibe.
I give a big thumbs up to the renovation — but not the rabbit.