Gave egulleter Suzanne a culinary tour of a couple neighborhoods in Portland on Saturday along with Jill-O and duckduck. That was fun. One of the Rogue Creamery guys was at New Seasons. They make some great blue cheeses. Definitely try them if you get a chance. Duckduck also introduced me to a fruit I hadn't tried. Can't remember the name. It tasted like a creamy pear with a less edible skin. Tried to show Suzanne some of Jim Dixon's olive oil so she could maybe buy a bottle, but everyone was out of the stuff. I guess that's a good thing. Pastaworks seems to be selling a speck now, like a smoked prosciutto. It was cheaper than all their other hams (Proscuitto et al). I don't know if that's typical. Tried Piece of Cake for the first time. They make gluten free cakes, too. I thought it was just okay stuff. There was some really great smelling tea at Caprial's store. It made my car smell good. I wish they made those air freshener trees out of that stuff.
On the way back to Jill-O's car, we decided to get some dinner. We went to Second Story Bistro which is located near Chinatown above a strip club and near several gay nightclubs. The log enshrined stairway and cool glass decorated door are probably the best part of the place. The walls are a nice brick and you have views down below, but the chairs were quite uncomfortable, emphasized by the horrendously slow service (it wasn't even half full either on a Saturday night).
Between us we had the mussells starter, the alsatian pork chop, the champagne halibut, the duck, and a mix of desserts (you can order a tasting of three desserts for slightly more than the cost of one dessert).
The mussells were one of the better items and a good serving for the price, $8.50. There was a lot of buttery broth for sopping, too, if only they brought out more than one small basket of bread.
The pork chop was the best item. It wasn't especially tender, but it was juicy and not overcooked. The sauce, made with apple, dried cherry, and port wine, made it good. The gorgonzola mashed potatoes were tasty and not over cheesed. The grilled asparagus were good.
The duck was very disappointing. The breast was good enough, but the confit was dry. And the orange beurre rouge was nowhere to be found. I guess there was a slight orange flavor on the skin.
The halibut was okay. I'd say it was a bit overcooked, although I didn't have a lot of it. The sauce seemed decent enough, but nothing special.
The worst items of the night were the dessserts. We chose the blood orange sorbet, the bread pudding, and the apple-pear crisp. The sorbet was grainy, more like a mediocre granita. The bread pudding was dry. They didn't allow the custard to soak into the bread. Sauce was essentially just melted butter. The crisp was like anything you could get at a good diner. Nothing special at all.
Jill-O and duckduck may have had a different experience, but it's in the same price range as places like Casanis, Heathman, Carafe, Park Kitchen, and Ken's, with similar styles of food, but not as good.