A couple dozen of Bend's bravest diners were on hand, which unsurprisingly consisted of a veritable who's who of area chefs who couldn't pass up the opportunity (including representatives from the Deschutes Brewery, Marz Bistro, the Astro Lounge, 28, Willakenzie Winery, Cork, Jen's Garden, Giuseppe's, and Hey Cupcake), a few curious food and wine writers, and a smattering of other adventurous eaters-oh, and of course, some unsuspecting companions who didn't know what they were getting themselves into. In a succession of small plates, the porcine anatomy was explored from the furthest extremities-snout, foot, ear, and tail-into the very heart of the animal, literally.
Logan led with two of the most accessible dishes we would see all night. First, a teacup of crystal clear pork consommé, followed by pork belly cooked two ways with root-vegetable ragout. It was a savory, bacony delight. Alarms went off at the descriptions of most everything else in the lineup, only to be quieted by a steady stream of red wine that proved pivotal in getting some of the more acquired tastes down. Even the dessert course, featuring chocolate and blood truffle, sounded menacing.
It ended up that some of the most terrifying dishes were the tastiest, while others confirmed my instincts. Confit of pig heart with sprouted lentils and hazelnut oil had lovely texture, a mild flavor, and was nothing to be afraid of, while other viscera like kidney and liver were undeniably challenging, even prepared with Logan's masterful touch. Pig trotter (that's foot for the uninitiated) stuffed with mashed potato on a bed of mustard greens and pork cheek with carnaroli rice and air-dried ham were winning combinations, while I couldn't get my head (or mouth) around braised tongue with ham hock wrapped in cabbage or rolled pig spleen with wild mushroom rillettes. I'm pretty sure humans are not meant to eat the spleen of any animal. Among my favorites was one of the scariest on paper, pork blood ravioli stuffed with pig snout over parsley puree. It was an excellent and quite beautiful little plate that I'd order again without hesitation. Wouldn't have guessed that snout would land at the top of the list, or that the taste of blood would bother me so much less than the sight of it.
The "intestine raffle" in the middle of the meal was a nice break, as I was not among the diners selected to receive a prize of (you guessed it) more pig, in the form of a colon sausage. One of the lucky winners magnanimously passed his around for sampling, and it was actually very nice. But it wasn't as impressive as the intermezzo cocktail, bacon-infused vodka garnished with a toothpick of pork done three ways. Yowch. That's definitely when the evening took a turn for the rowdy, leaving a trail of hazy, piglicious memories in its wake.
I can't say that I've come around to organ meats from this experience, and it's far from natural for anyone to eat that much swine in one sitting, but it was a rare treat to see the realization of a menu so clever and ambitious-albeit a little sadistic. The word is out that Logan has recently sold the restaurant, so I'm glad I got the chance. As swan songs go, this was certainly one for the books. Bistro Corlise will be sorely missed. Classic French cuisine treated with this level of integrity doesn't come around very often.Bistro Corlise
916 NW Wall St., 385-6979 Dinner, Wed.-Sun., 5 p.m.-close