We spent 4 days in Portland over the week of New Year's Eve.
Nong's Khao Man Gai food truck
Tasty and Alder
Pok Pok (Whiskey Lounge)
Loved Grassa for the prices, for the housemade pasta, for my very delicious caccio e pepe with truffle oil. so earthy, and the pasta was tender, toothy and silky. we also ordered a meatball on the side in red - practically day-glo - sauce; the best red sauce i've ever had - so much depth of flavor. we ordered a side of them to go for late night snacking after the bar. The BF had a bowl of strozzapreti with sausage and grilled squash, which he found a tad salty but i thought it was terrific. Such a bargain, I'd be a regular if i lived there.
Nong's Khao Man Gai was simplicity itself. We ordered the extra ginger sauce, and crispy chicken skin. lovely. one order was enough to share, and we couldn't even finish it, but saved it for later, although we did lap up all the beautiful chicken soup - so light, rich and elegant.
We did not love our bratwurst at Altengartz, and wondered what the fuss was about. also tried the curry wurst, which was a far cry from what i'd had in Berlin (not that i expected it could be the same). Not terrible, but I wouldn't recommend it and wouldn't go back.
We had dinner at Tasty & Alder on NYE, and were so pleasantly surprised at the service, the prices, and the quality of the food on a busy night like that. We absolutely adored the brussel sprouts, roasted with caramelized sugar and fish sauce. really delicious - every bite exuded sweet/salty juiciness. i'd like to try making them at home. we also got the goat cheese dumplings arrabiata, quite wonderful and homey. we shared a salad of radicchio with lardons, manchego, and a chopped six-minute egg, which was good but needed to be tossed better as it seemed under-dressed at first. the BF had steak frites, which were great, and i had a tiny portion of flat Iron Washimi Wagyu with a PX sherry glaze - very tasty, but very tiny.
Our final dinner out was at Pok Pok, the Whiskey Lounge location. It was quite a hike to make without a car as we were staying on the edge of the Pearl District, so we cabbed it there. We shared the spicy wings at the bar (as phenomenal as everyone said - I've made them at home once now and we loved them), then moved over to the restaurant for dinner after an hour wait. The wings were the best part of our meal, as I believe we ordered wrong. We went for some pretty standard Thai dishes (flank steak salad - too salty; papaya salad - very fresh and spicy), instead of trying something more adventurous (the BF isn't all that keen on seafood or anything too funky), so i'm not blaming the restaurant. We did however, really like the pork belly curry, a nice, rich, fatty dish, perfect for the freezing night. What i didn't enjoy, however, was sitting in one of those outdoor tents on a 26-degree night, where the heat lamp held no sway. We ate with our coats and scarves on. Maybe it's nice in the spring and summer, but I'd opt for the indoor restaurant next time.
On our way home to San Francisco, we tried the mantou at the Pok Pok airport outpost - pulled pork - the best! - scrambled egg, and fried tofu. They were just wonderful. Great texture, very flavorful, especially with the spicy chili paste - naam phrik khao soi - really great. You just don't expect food of that quality at most airports. (they sell the wings there too.)
All in all, Portland amazed us with its great prices for food. we did a fair amount of super cheap-eats too (burgers at Maverick Taverna, ditto at Blitz; breakfast at Roxy), but we found the quality is certainly there; we just needed more time. and more stomach real estate.