The food at Chameleon is difficult to categorize. The name certainly gives no clues. If I had to describe it in two words, I’d probably say, “Thai Fusion.” There is definitely a Thai influence in nearly everything on the menu, but some items don’t sound very Thai at all, like the winter squash risotto or the penne pasta. Perhaps the elusive cuisine is what makes the name Chameleon so fitting.
It was difficult to choose from the many delicious-looking options. In addition to the standard menu, there was also a special, a house-made ravioli stuffed with chicken, asiago cheese, and a few other things, tossed with arugula and asparagus. The special sounded excellent, but we finally settled on the penne pasta and the rack of pork. While we waited for our entrees, we munched on delicious, freshly-baked bread dipped in a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, blue cheese, and basil.
Both entrees were fantastic. The menu describes the penne pasta as “Sliced chicken breast tossed with cumin, Hungarian peppers, cilantro, fresh tomatoes and a touch of cream.” The cumin and peppers give the dish a bit of spice I usually find lacking in a typical tomato pasta sauce. If you order it, make sure you save a couple of pieces of bread to sop up the sauce at the end. It’s excellent.
The rack of pork is marinated with honey and star anise, grilled, and then topped with an apple-cranberry chutney. It sits atop a bed of coconut rice surrounded by sauteed brussels sprouts and wild mushrooms. Don’t be put off by the brussels sprouts. If your only experience with them involves a bag from the freezer and a pot of boiling water, you need to try these.
The pork was cooked perfectly. The apple-cranberry chutney was a great finishing touch. The meat was firm enough to need a knife to cut, but was deliciously tender and easy to chew. The spices enhanced the flavor of the pork rather than hiding it.
We didn’t try it, but we heard people in the restaurant raving about the Tom Yum Soup. If you get soup, salad, or an appetizer, you can expect to pay $20-25 per person. The service at Chameleon was very friendly. We had no trouble getting a table, but we arrived pretty early in the evening, and it filled up before we left, so we recommend calling ahead for a reservation.
2000 Northeast 40th Avenue
Portland, OR 97212-5311