I don’t like a crispy fried egg on my pasta, or maybe it’s the pasta — when I first came to Grassa last year, I remember loving it. It’s why I come again when I’m back in Portland, and I swear I got the carbonara last year, too, but was it this disappointing last time, too?
Grassa makes all their pasta in-house, and they make it in front of you if you sit at the counter. While you eat, a cook rolls out pasta, putting it through the machine or through the extruder in the desired shape, before weighing it out into portions and putting them into plastic containers. There are trays of pasta sitting in a rack to the side, so you can look upon them, envision the dishes they’ll be made into, while you wait for your food to arrive.
I don’t know it is that’s making this carbonara gritty, but it’s odd, not the silky smoothness I’d expect (reasonably, I say) from a carbonara. Carbonara is stupidly simple — it’s eggs, cheese, a cured meat (pancetta or bacon), and that’s it — but that’s also what puzzles me about the addition of a semi-crispy fried egg on top of the pasta. There are already plenty of eggs in this dish, so adding another egg seems excessive — and I love eggs. I don’t often ever think it’s a bad idea to add an egg to anything. And yet.
The salad I get is great, though — apple fennel with dates. I don’t know that I’ve had raw fennel before, but I love it. It goes so well with the the sweetness of the apple and the chewiness of the dates, and it’s a great, balanced salad. I could eat more of this salad.
I just wish the carbonara had been up to par.