Restaurants & Bars 8

PDX trip report - long

Mark B | Jul 6, 2005 08:29 PM

Came up for fourth of July weekend.

On Friday night we went to the Rogue brewpub in the Pearl, and it was the only disappointing point of our entire visit. The beers were bland, except for the hazelnut brown, which tasted overwhelmingly of hazelnut syrup. Actually, I’m not sure what else we even drank, because our server only got 2 out of 4 beers correct on the bill, and I think they only correctly served us 1 out of 4 that we ordered. The kobe burgers were OK.

Saturday morning we had pastries and coffee/tea at the Pearl Bakery. We got there early, so it was pretty empty, but it started to fill up by the time we left. The huge oven past the counter was very impressive. My brioche was tasty.

From there we went to the farmers market, which is certainly better than any farmers market we have in Los Angeles. We must have made four laps of the circuit. We put together a picnic lunch of rosemary bread, pate of pork and figs, wrapped in prosciutto, goat cheese with olive tapanade and then cherries for dessert.

Dinner was at Gotham Building Tavern, to which we took the Max yellow line. Side note – we walked or took MAX/buses/streetcar to everywhere we ate, with the exception of one taxi ride. We found it extremely easy to get around the city without a car.

One of the highlights at GBT was the “fat liver” appetizer. I wonder if it’s called this to avoid any foie gras controversy? I had a terrific hanger steak with patatas bravas, which were spicier than I would have expected, but very good. I wasn’t thrilled with the “jumped up greens” though. The service was fantastic, down to letting us try small tastes of the dessert wines my wife was thinking about ordering. In the end we ordered a glass of each! I found the prices quite reasonable, by LA standards. Definitely better food/service than what you would get most places in LA for that price.

We had pastries at Ken’s Artisan Bakery on NW 21st the next morning, where I especially liked the “Oregon croissant”. It was filled with berries, but still crispy.

Lunch was an uninspired piece of pizza at Pizza Schmizza, as we had been walking around for hours and just needed fuel quickly.

Dinner was in the shady outdoor area at Café Castagna, which I enjoyed just as much as GBT. I found the food very subtle/refined. I especially enjoyed the mushroom (can’t remember which kind) and lentil soup. The broth was rather thin, but the lentils and mushrooms gave it a lot of texture and depth.

We walked over to Pix for dessert and shared a lemon tart and an apple/almond nougatine. I just loved the whole idea of this place. The beer/wine list has a ton of variety and the place just has a comfortable feel to it. I can imagine it gets cramped when it’s crowded though. I had a beer from Dogfish Head, the innovative Delaware brewery. I know it’s sacrilege to drink beer from Delaware when visiting Portland, but you can’t get Dogfish head in Southern California (believe me, I’ve tried). I smuggled back a bottle on the plane, which the TSA agents at PDX jokingly threatened to take from me for ‘quality control checking’.

All in all it was a great trip. We’re coming back in September, and have been talking about how much we would like to live there. Maybe we’ll just keep coming up for weekends and having great food!

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