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Portland Trip Report - and thanks!

MsAC | Feb 28, 200605:50 PM

Thanks to the Portland hounds who, some time back, helped me sort through my options. We had a great time in your fair city (and no rain!) and we ate, ate and ate...

Friday night we landed earlier than we expected, and in hindsight could have squeezed in another "dining
experience" but we enjoyed our wurst und bier at Gustav's all the same. One of our party is from Berlin and he was excited by the dinner options on the menu both in the BierStube and in the restaurant - he said that they were spot on traditional. Post Gustav's we headed to Pix - what a great spot, and Portlanders - so lucky! to have somewhere like this. We were taken with the blend of funky hip/great
desserts/real alcohol/late hours and we settled in to stuff ourselves. Six or seven desserts later (for four) we had succeeded. All were good and I'm not sure we agreed on a favorite, but the pear/chocolate/rosemary tarte was quite something, as was a little pyramid of mousse and nougatine and chocolate. The drinks were a nice selection - standouts on our table were the Calvados and the Tokay.

Saturday we were headed out to taste wine, but we stopped for hot chocolate and "breakfast" at Sahagun. Tiny and pricy but well worth the stop for exquisite and blessedly NOT sweet chocolates and truly decadent hot chocolate. Again, not sweet, but true chocolate flavor. The salty caramels? Insanely good! The girl working fed us beans while we waited, and it was neat to match that "raw" flavor to what we found in the chocolates. We asked her about pastries and she sent us up the road to Saint Cupcake, another hugely charming idea. Portland = sweet tooth?

Dinner Saturday was at Wildwood, and we were not disappointed. Beautiful food, both in presentation and flavor. We started with five firsts - amazingly, all were as solid as the next. It has been a few weeks (for shame, I know) but I have fond memories of the mussels, the smoked trout and the small wood fired pizza. Mains were huge portions and strong, balanced flavors. We were all impressed with how the taste of each ingredient came through and still blended with the others on the plate. We had the Strawberry Mountain Beef (cooked perfectly rare),
the Duck over brussels sprouts with dried cherries (moist, flavorful duck, loved the match with the slightly musky sprouts and the bright flavor of the cherries), the Lamb Chops (played very well against the goat cheese potatoes - a whole plate of strong tastes) and (our favorite) the Pork Chop on the polenta cakes. Juicy, full of flavor, the pork
itself was a pleasure, and the salami and polenta on the side sealed the deal.

We wanted the ginger cake, but they were out - so we
settled on the pear tarte tatin, which was not settling at all and ended up being a very nice finish. Overall, a great meal, well executed, well served - if this has slipped (as some here warned) we certainly didn't feel cheated.

Stuffed full, we made a late night gratuitous stop at VooDoo doughnuts, where a cream filled maple bar, even shared, put us over the top...

Sunday morning we headed to Gotham Building Tavern for breakfast, and SO glad we did. To begin - they make a great spicy bloody mary. The space is very cool and we liked the odd "tinker toy" circular booths at the back. Nice simple menu - the benedict was good, the hash was good, the chilaquiles were very good. The hot fresh doughnut was rather a nice way to start the day -- I even liked it with
the marmalade. Service was slowish, which might have been just our hunger, but we didn't wait to be seated and we enjoyed the food - it was nice to get a good breakfast that was so well executed - it was cooked like dinner food, and had that same precision. Nice option, for sure!

Stopped in at Moonstruck to collect a box of chocolates for the plane ride home and browsed NW23rd - it was a sunny day and everyone was out and about. Ended up for a late lunch/early dinner at Pambiche. Fun and funky space - pretty empty in the afternoon and I can see why you wait at night - service was slowish and the space is small - but we
really enjoyed. I haven't had a sugar cane juice outside of SE Asia, so that was a real treat. The desserts were also a nice surprise, as so often "mexican" type desserts are poorly executed, but not these. My banana cake was fabulous, as was the rice pudding, the pineapple cake - we were happy. Before that, though, we enjoyed a starter of plantains. Lunches were a fish sandwich, a picadillo, a plato cubano and the best - pork lengua in salsa. All the dishes were large, satisfying, sucessful. Warm with the flavor of spice without being hot and burning, rich and round flavors - I could eat like this more often!

Actually, that could be said for Portland. What a great place to eat!

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