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Portland Area Trip Report

Reporting on our 8th eatfest in Portland


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Reporting on our 8th eatfest in Portland

grayelf | Jun 8, 2014 10:51 PM

Thanks once again for your advice and tips on my enquiry thread:

We arrived in time for happy hour at a place recommended online by a local chef. The Box Social is more of a bar than a pub, but they had a nice selection of beers on tap, keeping the SO happy, while I went for the Dirty Little Thief (spiced tequila, sage, pineapple and lime). I liked this drink but it was a leetle too spicy to be truly refreshing. We also tried the cauliflower dip, which was fine. Nice to sit outside in the sun after a day in the car.

Quick stop at the hotel to check in and change for our early dinner at Lang Baan, the set menu Thai spot behind Paa Dee. Reservations are held here on a credit card, which always makes me nervous, but we made it on time for the 6 pm seating and chose the $40 option.

We started by ordering a Sasquatch IPA and a shochu-based cocktail called The Waterfall which also included lemon, shrub, simple syrup cucumber and thyme ($8). Both were tasty when they finally arrived from next door after the third course (we did receive an apology for the wait).

We liked some of the dishes quite a bit but 70% were just way too sweet, a problem for us in all the Portland Thai restaurants we’ve tried. The presentation is quite polished, and the service is trying hard to be so, but the whole thing comes off a bit precious. And the rice was way overcooked, which seems like a fail for this type of offering. The staff behind the counter were certainly pushing it out from under their baseball hats (sort of a uniform? See pic).

After dinner we wandered the area a bit. We popped into Staccato Gelato as the source of the tasty looking moderately sized doughnuts we had seen in passersby’s paws. They looked very worthy and were only $1.25 to $2 (hello, Fairy Princess ’nut: see pic) but we were just too full. We also stopped in at Jimmy Mak's to suss it out, snagging a free parking spot in front at 8:45 on a Friday, woot, then wandered around that hood for a bit before turning in early.

Did a quick run to the PSU Farmers Market on Saturday morning. There was easy parking even at 9:45 but it was really busy.

We’re always happy to find good coffee near our hotel and so were delighted when Barista opened up a fourth outpost on NW 23rd. They aren’t doing pourovers at this location but excellent cold brewed Coava-blend coffee was a fine substitute (and they are batch brewing on a Fetco which would also have worked).

Shoutout to the super friendly staff at this location who answered all of my annoying questions with a right good will. Our first foray into Roman Candle baked goods was half successful: my kouign amann was very tasty if a bit lighter (see cross section photo) than my standing favourite Starter KA from SF, whereas the SO’s scone was too sweet and a bit heavy. He very much enjoyed his cappuccino from Ceremony in Md, a nice Bolivian.

Big Ass Sandwiches’ SE truck was our lunch goal to try the Rich Wich (roast beef, bacon, grilled onions, béchamel cheese sauce and FRENCH FRIES, yes, in the sando $10.50). Thank the gods that we only ordered one between us as these puppies live up to the truck’s name. I couldn’t finish half, but I wanted to. Food comas were discussed with other diners. 

Happy hour found us at Burnside Brewing for cornmeal fried pickles ($5), “Cohiba cigar” kobe oxtail and ash ($5) plus a scotch egg ($3). The SO was very happy with his Baltic Porter (reserve; 8%; packs a punch) while I tried the Sweet Heat as a sample, an apricot and scotch bonnet wheat ale that wasn’t my style, and the spring rye, also not my fave, landing up with an excellent Portland Cider Co Sorta Sweet cider ($4 for 12 oz). The nibbles were well executed as well. The only downside was the unusually douchy behaviour of several of the groups on the patio, one of whom was *gulp* Canadian.

We headed over to Tarad Thai to scope it out for another time (too warm inside but snagged some inexpensive Thai products). Robo Taco netted us the best tacos my SO has had yet – he said he’s finally starting to get the Mexican food thing, ironically in a resto entirely devoid of any nacionales. The tacos were pretty outstanding (al pastor, carnitas and pescado), and the tortillas were great. They were using a different kind of cabbage on the fish taco to good effect. And the authentically massive orange medio litro de Fanta didn’t hurt either. Man cannot live by porter alone!

Second dinner was at Davenport. They were pretty slammed and we had to wait 20 minutes past our reservation but it was not a hardship because we knew we were heading for the good stuff. There were perfect raw radishes as an amuse, then nettle ravioli, a bowl of spring (soup, that is), a marvelous endive salad, two perfect scallops, a ridiculously tasty pork belly and egg dish, all for $71 before tip.

Beautiful setting, genteel fellow diners, lowkey but excellent service. Just about ideal. And they got us out in time to catch a late screening at the Lloyd Centre cinema. We'd hoped to go to one of your cool vintage theatres but Hotel Budapest wasn't playing at any of them.

Big pic: spicy cocktail at Box Social, plating and baseball capped chefs at Lang Baan, random signage, doughnuts at Staccato, breakfast and kouign amann closeup at Barista NW, porter, snacks and cider at Burnside Brewing, a bad picture of a great dish: the pork belly at Davenport

The Box Social,
Staccato Gelato,
Tarad Thai,
Robo Taco,
Little T American Baker,
Coava Coffee Roasters
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