I have no idea why I waited so long to visit The Maiden. I was a big fan of Fernando’s Hideaway, another Spanish restaurant downtown that is now closed. I’ve sampled a lot of Mediterranean and Spanish restaurants in Portland since then, but so far The Maiden is the best.
The Maiden is in kind of an obnoxious area in Inner Southeast on Morrison. Parking can be a pain in the rear, but the pay off is worth it. The staff are very friendly and give rock star service. The poor kids can’t help but be outdone, though, by the boys in the kitchen.
Tapas don’t appear on The Maiden’s menu, at least not in name. There are many dishes that in any other universe would be called tapas. Instead, The Maiden menu breaks up everything into variations based on plate size (small, medium, large). You don’t need a degree in gastronomy to figure out which would be tapas and which would not. An excellent aspect of this menu is that most of the best stuff is available in a very inexpensive happy hour version.
The best item on the menu is the bacon-wrapped dates. Modern foodies, especially men, understand that anything wrapped in bacon automatically becomes the best thing in the universe. The last time I had something like this, it was a date stuffed with Serrano ham (and the bone). No thanks. This, however, is a work of art. The dates are indeed wrapped in bacon and stuffed with manchego (sheep’s milk) cheese and covered in a light sauce. It’s very rare to find a food that is such an immense concentration of flavor. The happy hour portion includes 4. You need at least 2 per person. One just isn’t enough.
The Pa amb tomáquet was also amazing. Be sure to order it with the ham on it. The Serrano ham is the only reason you’d eat this anyway. Their Spanish tortilla, which is nothing like a Mexican tortilla, is flavored differently from time to time. Spanish tortillas are like giant potato cakes. The Maiden’s are really good, and I was interested by the idea of the flavor changing from time to time, adding flavor to what otherwise is a one-trick pony. The costillas, pork spare ribs, were good but not as amazing as the other things we sampled. Finally, we also tried the fish tacos. I am a huge fan of fish tacos, and these were good, but not the best I’ve had in Portland. There was a tad too much vegetable for me.
One thing about The Maiden that I find exciting is how much of the menu I still want to sample, like their burger, their awesome desserts, paella, and duck quesadilla. I can’t wait to go back and try some of these foods same foods again and sample new ones. We definitely recommend you pay them a visit. Don’t be an idiot like me and wait.
UPDATE: Too late kids, according to their website The Maiden was sold and is no longer in operation. The website is still up, however. If anyone can provide any clarification, give us a heads up.
639 Southeast Morrison Street
Portland, OR 97214