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Restaurants & Bars 6

10th trip in three years nets fine food for Vancouver BC Hound and family

grayelf | Mar 28, 2015 03:26 PM

With reccos in hand from two pre trip posts here http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1001708 and here http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1003975 we were well armed for our first trip to Portland with both my parents and my bro, SIL and Little Niecey Thing.

On the way we hit the much-vaunted Din Tai Fung near the university in Seattle. The XLB were indeed excellent but the other two dishes, seaweed and bean curd and shiu mai, were just okay and inferior to Shanghainese at home. Waited about 15 minutes as they weren't using all the tables due to a shortage of staff.

Rolled into Portland at 4 on Thursday in time for happy hour at Saraveza, a favourite. The SO's Gigantic Pipe Wrench gin barrel aged IPA went down well, as did my Shilling Berry Apple Cider with mixed berries and plums. They were holding an Ex Novo non profit brewery event that night which looked intriguing. We walked next door to the La Tarasca taco truck for an excellent huchepo or sweet tamal ($2) and decent chorizo and cabeza tacos.

Met up with the rest of the gang at the hotel, three of whom were in various stages of illness; one stayed in but the rest soldiered on to Tara Thai and Lao for an adequate dinner (nem khao was predictably best, Lao sausage good and beef jerky fine, other dishes were meh) but it was close by, we had a private room, the service was lovely and the price was right.

On Friday morning, eggs and things were requested so it was a return visit to J&M Cafe, which was pronounced good by all. We were able to try more dishes with a group of seven, so I took a chance on the scrapple, which I'd never tried. Go, scrapple! The room is so very cheery and welcoming. And they have a great, reproducing cup tree -- they put up a bunch of mismatched coffee receptacles and every couple of weeks, a few more mysteriously appear. Only in Portland.

After showing off the glorious Japanese Garden, a late lunch at Hair of the Dog was in order, sharing a respectable reuben, tasty meat and cheese plate, and several taster flights. This is a convivial spot, great with a kidlet. Maybe not the most outstanding beer but we enjoyed it.

There was a big trading store down the way where some went to browse, while others hied themselves to Water Avenue for a latte (cool Quinn coffee lollies for a dollar) and to Clive to drool over coffee equipment and acquire a slick Hario scale.

Just time for a quick stop at the hotel then an early dinner at Davenport where they couldn't find our reso and nearly gave my mum a heart attack. They were luckily able to seat us after a short wait to enjoy what I felt was the best dinner of the trip, the sides (veggies) being particularly phenomenal. This place really delivers for us every time, and has earned its top billing.

I ran next door to Pix Patisserie and by a miracle they had a six-top which we were able to nab; not sure these are my fave kinds of dessert but it was fun to try it out and the room is a hoot.

On Saturday, five of us walked down to Coffeehouse NW and sampled their excellent wares, including an apple hand pie from Bakeshop that was very appley and one of their beloved figgy buckwheat scones. Then we all headed out to the PSU farmers market where we ogled the produce and bought some Spice apples which are a lovely variety, and some Comice pears, ditto.

Hawthorne for very fresh doughnuts at Blue Star, first time trying their old fashioneds: the raspberry was the best. For lunch, we revisited the cart pod on 28th and Ankeny as it was such a beautiful day but alas no grilled cheese truck, and the line up for Guero was rather long; grabbed a couple of decent pastries from Crema around the corner, while the others tried Wolf and Bear, and had beers from Captured by Porches.

After a super visit to the crazy-busy zoo, we dropped the gang back at the hotel and tried to go to the newish Civic Taproom but there was a Timbers game so no parking. Instead hit the Nob Hill Grille for a brew, an old school burg and okay fries. Seemed like a true local hangout.

Zoomed out to Firehouse and got rock star parking. The back room is much quieter, and the food was maybe not quite as good as last time; a bit oversalted, and the pizza varied in quality.

Went for coffee at Barista on NW 23rd to start our Sunday -- great cold brew, various pastries from Roman Candle and granola were enjoyed; mum and dad tried their first kouign amann which Mum liked best, dad thought too salty.

We brunched at Autentica where they kindly moved our reso up 45 minutes; this is a solid option and not busy at all on a Sunday, though I wouldn't have minded stronger "Mexican" flavours in the dishes. Three of our number then hit the road for Vancouver.

Round the corner, Extracto's coffee was excellent as usual afterward but I'm not a fan of the pastries here, which I think are Fleur de Lis. Had to show the parentals Powell's where we purchased a number of tomes. Then it was off to the train station for their return trip.

Wandered around near Powell's, picking up some more Portland Red hot sauce at the World Market, then hit up Mr Green Beans where there is a Townsends Tea coming soon across the street. Happy hour at Radar was excellent (snacks included an oyster, some devilled eggs, a pork shoulder on grits croquette, cauliflower fritters, and roasted radishes, woot!), a fine cocktail in the Anchor Light, lovely people own it, who had the good taste to snag one of the very limited kegs of Upright Oyster Stout, and a second small Wild Red Ride was enjoyed (both halfs at $3 each).

Base Camp for second happy hour, cool lights in ceiling, a bit chilly inside, great trays for the tasters, taco and chips from Koi Fusion were just okay.

Dinner at Kachka, took it easy and just ordered the pork belly with gravy and the cabbage rolls (!), oh and a shot of the wasabi vodka (!!) which turned out to be awesome. Liked this place more than I thought I would and would return to sample more.

Big photo: scrapple at J&M with an added side of crispy grits; small photos: cup tree at J&M, tasting flight at Hair of the Dog, Bakeshop's apple hand pie at Coffeehouse NW, coffee beans at Extracto, pretty oyster, cauli fritter and roasted radishes at Radar, more tasters at Base Camp

Saraveza,
Ex Novo Brewing Co.,
Pix Patisserie / Bar Vivant,
Bakeshop,
Güero,
The Civic Taproom and Bottle Shop,
Autentica Mexican Cuisine,
Fleur De Lis Bakery & Cafe,
Mr. Green Beans,
Base Camp Brewing Company,
Koi Fusion,
Koi Fusion Mississippi,
Kachka,
Blue Star Donuts,
Barista,
Extracto Coffee Roasters
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