Reporting back on our Feb 29-Mar4 trip to Portland. Thanks to all the Hounds who contributed on this thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/830268 to making our trip a success. We’re already planning to head back in May and make use of some more of your tips. I'll post each day with some pictures to break this loooonggg report up a bit ;-).
After a nasty blizzardy drive down punctuated by tasty Mexican http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/831017 it was straight off to the newish outpost of Ristretto by Tasty’n’Sons for a restorative beverage and a blueberry doughnut at around 4 pm. This is a coffee bar that at first appears to be a bit cold but is actually quite comfortable and the coffee is taken seriously. Good start to our coffee tasting forays, and we got a couple of tips for others from the friendly barista Josh.
Originally we’d planned to take it easy and just hit Violetta near the hotel for a burg and an early night but our travelling companions were having none of that! No, it was off to Teardrop Cocktail Lounge for happy hour. We all ordered non-happy hour beverages except for the SO who took advantage of the dollar off beer. S had a Pimm’s cup which he was warned came without any vegetables, I asked the waiter/bartender to make me up something (he arrived at a Pink Lady based on my preferences and wasn’t far off, with the added grenadine and apple jack) and J had an Artistaint (Hayman’s Old Tom gin, Cynar, St Germain elderflower and lemon) that we declared the drink of the day. Cocktails clock in at between $9 and $10 at this modern space with tables around the edge and a bar in the centre. We preferred the atmosphere at happy hour to later (we stopped in again on Friday night as J was craving another Artistaint) when it became a bit cougary/pickupy and a tad too loud for us. Nice touches on the menu: provenance of cocktail recipes and glossary provided.
Deschutes was just around the corner and our next target, as J had not had a burger and beer since going gluten-free a number of months ago and this brewpub boasted both. S and J had the gf burger (beef and elk respectively) and pronounced them both satisfying though the buns don’t have the structural integrity of gluten-infected ones. The gluten-free NW Pale Ale was pretty tasty, even though it wasn’t exactly like “real” beer. SO and I shared a regular beef burger which was nicely cooked to medium rare and much better than 99% of the burgers I’ve tried at home but really just a good burger, nothing special. We had fun trying a “bat” of five beer samples between us, including Bachelor bitter, Mirror Pond Cask (SO’s 2nd favourite), Black Butte Porter, Nitro Obsidian Stout (SO’s favourite), Prussman Porter and Los Muertos, a tamarind sour. Actually, I had the sour and he drank the rest, which suited me fine! This is what Yaletown Brewery and places like that are trying to be at home. It was pretty slammed for a Wednesday night though we were seated immediately, the way it should be.
As we were leaving, we asked the staff at the front where we could go nearby for another cocktail. We were directed to a place beside the Ace Hotel which turned out to be Clyde Common. I had considered CC for our Friday dinner but decided against it partly because of the communal tables. We said we wanted drinks and the server was going to put us at the bar but since it was slowish she kindly offered us space at one of the tables. It was very inviting and the shared seating was not a problem at all. We all ordered beverages (Heavy Petting for J: Monopolowa vodka, grapefruit juice, Aperol, quinine syrup, lemon peel $9; Barrel aged martini for S: Beefeater gin aged for two months in Tuthilltown Whiskey barrels, Dolin dry vermouth, orange bitters, lemon peel $10; a Strega Sour for me: Broker’s gin, Strega, lemon juice, egg whites, tea-infused honey syrup $9 and a Ninkasi Believer Red from Eugene on tap $5 for the SO). We decided to take advantage of the serendipity and share an appetizer and an entrée. The starter we selected was a duck confit ($11) with greens, a sweet wine vinaigrette, olives and a soft egg and it was delightful if not inventive, particularly the olives.
The main was one of the better ones I’ve ever had in this type of restaurant and included half a substantial roasted game hen, Brussels sprouts, spaetzle, lardon and mustard vinaigrette ($23). This was a steal and done to perfection; I ate every bit of skin and gnawed on the bones. The accompaniments were spot on, savoury and delicious. I suspect such a dish if available at home would have been at least $10 more. I’ve heard that CC can be a little uneven but they hit it out of the park on these two dishes.