I'm just back in England after just over a week in and around Portland, a few pounds heavier and here are some brief notes on my trip.
I asked for some recommendations here and people were kind enough to make some suggestions. From those recommendations I went to;
Laurelhurst Market - really liked the young, vibrant feel of the place where I had a large pork chop, brined and lightly smoked from a pig fed on hazelnuts apparently (probably by a farmer called Bob!) - it was delicious and the service was good - I ate in the bar rather than wait for a table, but it was fine.
Karla’s Smokehouse - when visiting the beautiful coast I called at this recommended place at Rockaway. I sampled a selection of smoked oysters, salmon and black cod which I ate on the deserted beach opposite (deserted apart from a number of very attentive seagulls) - I think there was a sign up saying it was closing as a walk in place at the end of the year so make the most of it - very good indeed
Pok pok - I went with some local friends who took care of the ordering so I couldn’t tell you exactly which dishes we had - there was a chicken wing dish, something involving seafood, a delicious beef dish, some mustard greens and more. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a Monday night and we had to wait about 25 minutes for a table which we spent in the agreeable Matchbox lounge nearby
I went to Tanuki and we went for the omakase ($50 for two) - Although I couldn’t fault any of the dishes, somehow I didn’t really enjoy most of it - I guess I don’t really appreciate that flavour of japanese cuisine. The standout dish for me was some kind of a sausage on a skewer. In such a small space, the experience was not enhanced by the loud talking bore on the next table who seemed to have an opinion on everything (and seemed to want the whole room to hear it.) - oh well, that's the chance you take.
Someone suggested I tried out the cart scene and on the Portland Walks food tour one of the places we visited was a falafel cart - I think the owner is named Saied
Other places visited or revisited
Paley’s Place - I’ve only been there twice, but Kimberley Paley’s ability to make me feel lilke an old friend was very warming and the food (George’s gathered greens, Pork Shoulder and the Chocolate souffle cake with hazelnuts and ice cream) was winning.
Had another dependable meal at Wildwood (Crab Raviolo and T bone steak) - maybe a little heavy handed with the seasoning, but everything was otherwise prepared perfectly. I sat at the counter and watched the chefs at work. I’ve probably eaten here more times than any other place in Portland and I’ve never had a bad experience with service or food
I was going to go to Sushi Mazi on Division having read about it in Portland Monthly, but when we got there it was closed so we went to Sushi Bara nearby - this was perfectly acceptable - I had the gyosa and a very spicy beef teriaki as well as a “bad sensei” roll - good service and a nice quiet atmosphere.
I also visited Ken’s Artisan Bakery,Cafe Mingo, Barista, Kornblatts, Stumptown, and, touristy or not, the bacon maple bar at Voodoo Donuts is outrageously good., Pastini (because the wait at Higgins bar was too long for the concert we were attending) was ok, nothing special but nothing terrible either, The food tour also gave us fleeting glimpses of Cacao Southpark,, Elephants Deli, Rogue distillery / brewery, Hotlips Pizza and others.
As you might appreciate, trying to fit everything in between visits to the coast, the gorge and Mt St Helens + concerts and general sightseeing and shopping proved a challenge and there are still many places I would like to try next time.. Fortunately I didn’t experience any of the agressive panhandling downtown that I had been quite concerned about. That’s not to say I didn’t see any number of homeless and / or drunk,/ drugged out / crazy people living on the street but found a polite “no, sorrry” was sufficient to stop any requests. It’s something the city needs to address though if it wants to promote Portland as a tourist destination (and I know there are different reasons for people being there and different solutions required to deal with each group)
As we were walking down NW21st towards Wildwood we walked past Toast and Pho which hadn’t quite opened. The owner was performing some kind of ritual to bless the place involving rice and joss sticks and invited us in to take a look around. I think he would have fed us too had we not already made plans that night. Anyway - it looked like a nice space and I’ll watch for the reviews which will surely appear here.
So thanks for all the suggestions, sorry I didn’t get to all of them, but I will be back again next year for more without doubt.