Montage serves up Cajun goodness

Le Bistro Montage, a Portland staple since 1992, serves up anarray of solid dishes ranging from exotic to old-fashioned. Andwith hours of operation stretching until 4 a.m. on Friday andSaturday and until 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, you won’t find abetter place for a really late night meal.

Offering a unique experience for diners accustomed to privatedining, at the Montage you’ll likely find yourself seated in closeproximity to your neighbor. The cafeteria-style seating makes forsome interesting conversations and close encounters with totalstrangers. The large, open space decorated with some life-sizeportraits crafted by local artists (one of the Last Supper) createsan atmosphere that seems something like MiddleAges-meets-Bohemia.

The waiters scurry around in traditional garb, though theatmosphere seems relaxed; it’s obvious that, though edgy, thecuisine here is taken seriously. The full menu, scrawled down onlarge sheets of paper is extensive and affordable, too.

With dinners like pan-fried oysters, blackened catfish fillet,pork loin served with mango apple chutney and the “mad duck,”comprised of a breast of duck cooked in port wine and orange juicewith peaches, orange segments and bacon. It’s clear that theMontage creates some very well-considered dishes.

In contrast to these complete offerings, Montage also caters tothose whom may be eating out on a tighter budget, i.e. most collegestudents. Their macaroni menu is a great way to get a good mealthat ranges from five to eight dollars. They are famous for theirOld Mac, simply comprised of garlic, heavy cream and parmesan. Thisstandard yet tasty dish is hearty, affordable and cheap.

My personal favorite is the Spicy Mac, and I always order itwith chicken. Its spicy Cajun gravy, jalapenos, tomatoes andparmesan accompanied by blackened chunks of chicken always hits thespot. The Green Basil Pesto Mac is great, too.

The Montage’s appetizer menu has a number of uncommon offerings,such as the spicy frog legs served with black bread and the gatorbites which are Cajun-seared and delicious. Any place that offersfrog and alligator is all right by me. Also, you might want tocheck out the real alligator head and blowfish hanging by thedoor.

Also, the oyster shooters are always fun. The last time Ivisited Montage was with a group of people and we all orderedshooters. Before taking them down, I remarked that I never chewthem I just s�wallow the whole thing like a shot. Aheated debate ensued: chew or swallow?

Well, that night I found myself outnumbered four to one; themajority claiming that you have to chew them. I was convinced theywere wrong and claimed that they were the ones outside of themainstream, not me. Why else would they be in a shot glass? Thisattempted logic failed, and insults were hurled upon merelentlessly. My closing argument accused them of chewing oysterbladder – they finally shut up. So, I guess it just depends on theperson.

We moved on to dessert, where I found the mud pie to be really,really, good. And after commenting on a few of the tinfoil-to-gocreations (a trademark of the Montage) we were out into the night,satisfied and amused by our Montage experience. You shoulddefinitely put the Montage in your mouth, and I suggest youswallow, too.