Slipped into a small strip mall like a good book on a shelf, Three Square Grill is one of the hidden gems of SW Portland. This small restaurant is the home of Chef David Barber. It’s populated the who’s who of best restaurants in Portland since the mid-90′s.
The first thing you notice about the food at Three Square Grill is that the menu items are beautiful creations of simplicity. Three Square cements in my mind something I’ve come to learn testing restaurants: ingredients matter. Make beautiful dishes out of exquisitely fresh and tasty ingredients, and you’ll be treated to a level of cuisine that is hard to find in a world of processed and fast foods.
Case in point: One of the first things I ate in this restaurant, and one of the dishes we reviewed is their basic hamburger. Made with a half pound of Highland Oak beef, Tillamook cheddar, bacon, and Picklopolis pickles, this thing is a beauty. The vegetables served on it– onion, tomato, lettuce, etc. are all as fresh and crisp as vegetables should be. It seems silly to gush over such a simple dish– one that seems like it was added to satisfy the appetites of picky teenagers accompanying their parents, but this really is one of the nicest burgers I’ve had in Portland.
One of my favorite things to get here is the Western Divide salad. Mixed greens are topped with Salemville bleu cheese dressing, apples, pears, dates, and hazelnut sable. This salad is fresh, tasty, sweet, and has a great roundness to it. Sometimes when I see bleu cheese on a salad it turns out to be too salty and smokey, or a salad with apples and pears could come out too tart, but this is just great all around. It really strikes a balance.
The other dish we sampled was a cut of fresh halibut, garnished with sweet potato fries and fresh vegetables. This dish was less filling than the burger, which is a good thing if you aren’t looking to be quite so full. I feel like I say this everywhere I go, but even though I am not a huge fan of sweet potato fries, these were pretty darn good. The fish was cooked very nicely. It was crisp and tasty on the outside, and naturally buttery and flakey on the inside.
This restaurant changes out its menu very frequently. Upon this last visit, I had something that has become a favorite of mine– their crab bisque. It’s creamy adobe-colored coulis filled with tasty bits of crab meat. I felt kind of bad getting it on their nice tablecloths, but whatever. Good food should make a mess. They currently feature a summer vegetable soup. That sounds amazing, especially if my past visits are any indication. This review will be updated on our next visit when we are able to sample more food.
6320 SW Capitol Highway
Portland, OR 97239