Not long after moving Downtown, I visited Port of Call for lunch and had a good experience. Fast forward a couple years, after interviewing Chef Adam Pawlak, I headed back over to try some items on the new menu. (In related news, Port of Call will begin serving Sunday brunch in May.)
While the dinner menu has been almost entirely overhauled, retaining just a couple perennial favorites, the lunch menu has gotten a lighter makeover, with mostly some new appetizers and a couple salad, sandwich and burger updates.
Because Andy Tarnoff enjoyed his burger last time, and because I was in the mood for one, I had a Wisconsin Burger, which is new to the menu. It’s pretty simple, but hearty.
A half-pound burger on a pretzel bun with bacon, white and mild cheddar, and lettuce, sliced red onion and tomato, served with fries and a pickle for $12. I decided to dig further into the changes by replacing the standard fries with the new truffle fries from the appetizer menu, which you can do for an upcharge.
The burger was more than I could finish, which is saying something, and the blend of cheeses gave it a nice flavor profile. The pretzel bun was a real deal sweetener.
I enjoyed the truffle fries, too. They’re parmesan crusted and doused with truffle oil. But, beware, they’re super pungent. If you like truffle flavor and scent, as I do, you’ll be thrilled. But a truffle-wary dining companion may not be as thrilled. They're served with an herbed cream dip, but I liked them better plain.
Part-way through my meal, Pawlak – knowing I’m a fan of seafood – took it upon himself to whip up some seared scallops for me. This three-sea scallop platter is listed as an appetizer for $13, but it’s quite filling, so you could easily order it with a side salad and be more than satisfied at lunch.
The scallops were perfectly seared and topped with crumbled bacon and microgreens and served atop a spicy horseradish peppercorn sauce.
If you’ve ever tried to get the bacon and the scallops just right when making bacon-wrapped scallops, take a cue from Pawlak, who cooks the bacon separately and piles it on top at plating.
Any fat remaining on the bacon melts into the scallops, he says, making them even more sinfully rich. Hey, it’s not like you’re eating them every day ... though I know I sure could.
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