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Latest Portland trip report from Vancouver Hound (no, the other Vancouver!)

grayelf | Jun 22, 2015 10:23 PM

It's creeping up on a month since we've been back so well past time to post on how we did. The inquiry thread is here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1011748

Made a strategic error in trying to cross the border going south on the Saturday morning of the holiday weekend (apparently that is when all the families go). Faced with at least a two-hour wait, we went home and monitored the border lineup webcam till it died down to nothing around 4. Smooth sailing till Seattle (exit 172) where it jammed up and we decided to detour to Taqueria La Estacion in Burien, where we'd originally planned to have lunch.
Standout item was the chicken done on a charcoal grill. Very welcoming too.

Sunday:

I had booked brunch at Tapalaya which was unnecessary as we were the first there, after being delayed a bit by half-marathon-related traffic. Tasty well executed food, nice live music in a dark room. Great that you can order many items a la carte, which we did – breakfast tapas! Bacon was particularly good, perfectly cooked and not sweet. Cornbread and butter was very sweet but really well baked. Side Andouille with nice mustard, side eggs fluffy if a bit cool Would have preferred the cheese to be melted into the grits. $18 for all and we were full.

It was past time for the SO’s morning espresso-based beverage so our next stop was Heart on Burnside for a Stereo cappuccino. This shop always delivers on quality coffee, though sometimes a bit more 'tude than I’m used to in Portland. With the SO roasting at home he enjoys watching professionals at work and Heart is a great place to do that, though I hear they are moving their big roaster offsite. I appreciate that they are offering my beloved cold brew (Esmerelda that day) and stock Stevia for folks that like it. The raspberry crumble we shared was fine.

Our next stop was Hawthorne for a bit of shopping. The SO spotted the newish Portland Cider Co and suggested we go for a sampler. Since the sun was above the yardarm(ish) we did and found it a salutary spot. The cider is quite good, thought the Sorta Sweet was too sweet. I liked the Passionfruit the best. We didn’t eat anything but they do have snacks.

AT Culmination Brewing for first HH to try some samplers in this barebones taproom: Saison I and Sour Citrus were our favourites of the house brews (they carry other beers). We were also offered a taste of the Arch Rock Golden Beach Lager. The regular chef was on a break so we had a cubano ($10) off the short menu which was fine if a bit pricey.

Upright was our next stop, a revisit of one of the SO’s favourite brewers. The taproom was as busy as we’ve ever seen it but we nabbed a spot at one of the communal picnic tables and ordered up four samplers, including Four Play (their Four aged one year in cherry), Pale Ale, Orange Dream and Barley Wine. Nibbles are limited to chicarrones, jerky and olives. There was live music this time.

Headed out to look at guitars then stopped in to Good Coffee’s original shop which we hadn’t been to since the popup before the buildout was completed. Good tea program, tasty cold brew, slightly sterile atmo but great art, especially if you are a Star Wars fan. Just watch out for the butt-destroying leather seats that they have at this outpost as well as the other!

Stopped by Ladd’s Rose Garden, then off to Mt Tabor for a lovely pre-dinner constitutional on the volcano.

Ned Ludd for dinner, which was not quite as impressive as past visits. Not sure if that is because the kitchen has expanded. I enjoyed my Fir cocktail (Doug Fir, rosemary, aperol, gin, lemon $10) but found it less assertive than I would have liked. Spinach soup was intentionally served cold and underseasoned, probably not intentionally. Little gem salad (which lettuce was definitely having a moment in the city) was solid but not as remarkable as previous salads here. Tagliatelle was just okay, though considering it was whole wheat I thought the texture was good. Very light on the mushrooms and again on the seasoning. Whole trout was perhaps the most successful, with the fish cooked properly but a bit pricey at $22 for a wee fish. Dessert was a bit of a fail – really loose, almost runny pannacotta.

Big pic is of the chicken at La Estacion, in case you are passing through Seattle on your way to our Vancouver :-); small pic is a tasting tray at Portland Cider

Tapalaya,
Portland Cider Co,
Ned Ludd,
Doug Fir Lounge,
Portland Cider House,
Culmination Brewing
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