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Portland weekend--breakfast, bread, and beer

Nathan Landau | Jul 6, 200409:21 AM

I don't have any revelations for Portland hounds, but I think people should report back. As I'd planned, I came up there for the July 4 weekend. You all definitely steered me right in terms of places to eat and transit. I had no really bad food and some really good stuff. I also used Northwest Best Places and print outs of Williamette Week's Cheap Eats to back up your recommendations. And I wasn't particularly looking for fine or "ethnic" dining, which are readily accessible at home (some of you also warned me off Asian food there).

Breakfast was maybe my main meal. My best was at Milo City Cafe. They called it a salmon hash, but it wasn't a true hash--finely chopped up food--by my way of thinking. But it was great stuff nonetheless. Utopia Cafe's brioche french toast was good, but actually seemed a little dry, like they cooked it a bit too long. Of course, I don't put maple syrup on mine, so this may affect my view (I prefer jam, theirs was very good). Utopia Cafe seemed like a good place to be a regular. Monday I stayed downtown and went to Bijou Cafe, which had a pricey mushroom "hash" with no eggs and no bread provided. I was sitting at the counter, which also may have influenced my attitude. In many cities it seems like breakfast is better in the neighborhoods than downtown.

I wound up hitting 3 brewpubs, which I hadn't intended to do. But Sunday--July 4, when I'd meant to go to Kornblatt's, it was already closed by the time I got there (I'd called and asked when they would close, the woman who answered said it would depend on the amount of business.)

The differences between the brewpubs seemed to me to be more in the atmospherics than the beer--which was good at each place, or the food--which was perfectly adequate at each place. Bridgeport on Hawthorne was very sleek and efficient, Laurelhurst was the neighborhood hangout with millions of kids (they did try to somewhat separate kids and adults) and New Old Lompoc--at least on July 4--was like the bar that time forgot. My fish and chips at Laurelhurst and French Dip at Lompoc were a bit better than Bridgeport's food. I had a pint of amber at Bridgeport, a "red" at Laurelhurst that was tasty but not red in color and an orange "guest tap" at Lompoc that was orange and was--as they warned me--very hoppy.

I had a hell of a time finding New Old Lompoc. I later learned it's listed in the phone book under just plain Lompoc. Somebody had written that it was near Pix Patisserie and I fruitlessly searched for it on Division (I think they meant Saint Honore). I just happened to run across it walking around the next day on NW 23rd. The moral of the story is give an address or at least a cross street when giving initial information about a place.

I went to Saint Honore and was duly impressed. I was even more impressed that Ken's Artisanal Breads gave me a second excellent cinnamon bun on Sunday, when, unbeknownst to me, closing time approached. The two rolls became "lunch." I also went to Pearl but unfortunately didn't really eat my Pistolet until later when it was starting to get stale. It's a great hangout, though, as is Saint Honore in a different mode.

My lunches were pretty haphazard. Friday was Good Dog, Bad Dog which I thought was overpriced and mediocre. Saturday was LOW beef brisket at the Farmers' Market, which was fabulously tender and just a little bit smoky (I also wound up stopping at the Vancouver farmers' market, wondered why the Rainier cherries cost more than the Bings). Sunday was those cinnamon rolls and Monday I splurged on the Heathman, on the idea of eating one meal where you're staying. The pesto-crusted wild salmon was pretty simple and topnotch--just that and spinach and red onions.

A couple of you recommended the 28th & Burnside neighborhood. I went there but around 6 on July 4 everything was shut except the bars and the Starbucks. It looked like a good locale, though I wondered why MAX didn't have a 28th Ave. station.

Getting around on transit worked out fine--cost me $14 for the whole time (a $4 day ticket for the first day, $10 3 day pass for the next three). Portland's transit is indeed much better than comparably sized cities like San Diego or Sacramento. A car might have helped on my way back to the airport for road food--I could have gone someplace better than the downtown Safeway. Then again so many places don't even have a downtown supermarket. The transit to 28th & Burnside gets a little thin Sunday night, but the schedule was posted (and that stop had a "nextbus" arrival time sign) so I was able to get bus over to NW 23rd without an excessive wait.

Maybe I'll get to come back and do this again sometime.

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