Restaurants & Bars

Portland Area

Reporting back on trip number 6


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Restaurants & Bars 15

Reporting back on trip number 6

grayelf | Nov 3, 2013 08:09 AM

I thought I'd better post this long writeup before it gets too stale. Thanks to the tips in this inquiry thread we once again had an epic time eating and being entertained in your fair city. This time we were lucky enough to have a friend join us for the first five days, so we could try even more!

We arrived in time for happy hour at the Hop and Vine – nice cocktail that I managed to spill half of, great beer selection, nifty patio that we were able to take advantage of as it was warm; then off to Mr Green Beans to stock up on 10 pounds of various green coffee beans, and a little walk around the Mississippi.

We had resos at Levant, which was hopping on a Friday night. Tasty food overall but perhaps not as memorable as it might be

Up early for coffee at Sterling and an unfortunate run in between the curb and our car which resulted in a flat and a hurried call to a cab (excellent female driver). PSU Farmers Market was as beautiful as before. Tried the Lauretta Jean biscuits again which were not quite as transporting as previously but still outstanding. I got some more nut spread (pumpkin seed actually), some apples, and Alma’s lavender caramel topping.

Walked down to Burnside, stopping at Maglia Rosa for an excellent Roseline americano, and met up with the SO who had put the spare on the car, bless him. A stop at Hippo to introduce our friend to that fine establishment, then it was off to Sellwood and the inexplicably vaunted Jade Teahouse. Wish we had eaten somewhere in town because we easily could have. They were out of the bao, the burgers were pretty bad and the fries weren't even truffled. Ah well.

The foundation was laid at least for supping at our primary goal, the Fresh Hops Festival in Oaks Amusement Park. I was the DD so just had tiny sips of the selections but my two companions more than made up for that deficiency : -). A super event, though once again they missed the opportunity to get good food trucks over there.

We went to Spielman's for coffee (first the gas pedal, then the brake!) and the owner Rick walked in fresh from The Wedge. He sold us four pounds of his green Mexican beans, and we hied ourselves over to catch the last hour of the cheese festival. It was MUCH better than last year and quite worthwhile. We also got to check out the goats who hang out in a field a block over.

Uptown Billiards Cafe was dinner for the prix fixe. Fun setup with the speakeasy style hidden room at the back. We really enjoyed the courses and thought the preps were quite elevated considering the setting and the low cost. The others did the wine pairing and enjoyed it as well, despite the fact that they are red drinkers and it was all whites. Strolled along 24th after dinner.

The others walked over to Coffeehouse Northwest for an early dose of caffeine before Accanto for brunch on Sunday with reservations in hand. We arrived early because I was worried the Portland Marathon might create traffic but there was none, so we strolled around the lovely neighbourhood and checked out the heritage houses.

The biscuit ($5) and brunch oats ($6) were deemed worthy and way more than enough food. My duck hash ($14) and share of the ricotta doughnuts ($6) made me very happy. The SO went for the traditionale aka bacon and eggs ($9) which he reported to be good though fairly straightforward. Accanto is lovely and bright in the daytime. I'd be tempted to try dinner there.

Evoe for lunch, perfect soup with pork dumplings (they really know how to make broth), fried goat cheese, 2 kinds of pepper pan fried, we kept it light. Some retail therapy on Hawthorne was followed by a stop at the second outpost of Albina Press near Mount Tabor, which is a great big shop with a nifty art installation. Since the day was sunny and warm, a wander up Mount Tabor was in order. We hit Music Millennium on the way back to the hotel.

We made our own happy hour at Xico. The jamaica was quite strongly spiced, more like the sorrel juice of memory from Trinidad but tasty. The sopaipillas with beans were adequate, and the first order of chips with the guacamole was outstanding, though the second ($2 more) were overcooked and leathery. Bit of 'tude from the wait staff which stood out to us as unusual in our dining adventures in Portland.

Sunday night we had reservations at Ned Ludd for our second dinner there. Omission Lager, Royal Lady, free beer for SO because it was near the end of the barrel (!), charcuterie and cheese plate $20, mustard greens ($9), hot kale ($10), pork belly ($20), panna cotta ($8), sencha tea ($2). All very good with the cured meat and the panna cotta really standing out. After three meals here I consider Ned Ludd a favourite. Also kudos to the staff for not batting an eye when we accidentally showed up half an hour late for our reso which I thought was for 7:30 but I realized when we got home was actually 7, doh.

Stopped at Ken's and bought something sadly nondescript on our way to Sterling on Monday am. I think we have officially given up on Ken's baked goods after several tries. Our DC tried the excellent buckwheat scone at the café, from Bakeshop I believe. More retail therapy at Prana and the Levi's store on 24th followed.

Oven and Shaker for lunch saw us sharing the famed Nostrana salad, a daily special currant sausage pizza, Yellowjacket $5, Ninkasi $6, IPA $6. All good if not transporting in a comfortable, modern room. We noodled around in the area, checking out the Keen Garage and a few other stores.

More wandering around 811 Burnside which sadly was only partly open. I had been wanting to try another bicerin since I had one at Soma in Toronto last December. Got my chance at Alma Chocolates. That is a mighty fine if filling beverage. Picked up some more chocs for presents and a few for me :-).

The others wanted "real" coffee so we deaked over to Heart and sat outside as it was slammed, with cookies we had picked up at Alma.

We swung by Coava to pick up some roasted coffee beans for our guest to take home, and then did a bit of antiquing at the newish Grand Market, also Rejuvenation.

That worked up a thirst so it was time for Savoy Tavern for happy hour. Terminal Gravity $4, Lagunitas Little Sumpin Sumpin $4, well whiskey (an excellent sour) $4.50, deepfried cheese curds $6, devilled eggs $4, Savoy burger with white cheddar $9. We came for the curds but the burger is the real keeper here -- dark photo below does not do it justice -- had to use my phone this trip as I forgot my camera battery charger at home, argh. A worthy successor to my late lamented fave burg at Matchbox Lounge (RIP).

Little Bird was dinner and it was pretty outstanding. I completely get everyone's positive comments about this place. It's an admixture of traditional French bistro and a young, fresh vibe, down to the fairly hard-edge rock that is playing. Shouldn't work but does. Excellent service was the icing on the gateau. I neglected to take notes on the dishes and the menu has changed but I know we had a lamb neck salad which was wonderfully prepared (and I'm not much of a lamb fan). We also had a goat cheese gnocchi which my normally generous pal gobbled unceremoniously -- the little bite I snagged warranted that moment of gluttony!

We loved every dish, with the only misstep being a super salty gruyere souffle though we ate that too. I would go back for sure, and would love to try lunch here.

Tuesday morning was Spella day, and it is now officially the SO's favourite espresso based coffee in Portland. We also stopped at Courier for a muffin and some of their delightful house-made vanilla syrup in steamed milk for me. $4 day at the zoo was a hit, despite the onset of a persistent Scotch mist.

Meat Cheese Bread was our destination for lunch. All three sandwiches we tried were worthy but the green bean one is just genius. I'd go back for that in a heartbeat. The combo of grilled green beans, bacon relish, soft boiled egg, Parmesan and mayo in a light and crispy but soft inside ciabatta "hoagie" is simple but perfect, and something I would never dream of putting in a sandwich. That it is only $8, well...

There was half a sando left over which they wrapped up for my friend to take on the train home. They also have a tap right behind the counter out of which spouted barley goodness, which would only happen in a sandwich shop in Portland, LOL. Next time, though, we'd take our bounty next door to Beer (try googling that name!) for a greater selection and a bit more quiet.

We wandered across town to try an Acme Doughnut but alas the store is gone! It appears to have been replaced by Spielman's wholesale bagel factory, though I'm not sure about that. Since I now had doughnuts on the brain, we went back over the bridge to Coco. I had a rosewater mocha which came with a timbit on the side, and a lavender raised doughnut. Both were excellent. The SO enjoyed his tea and coconut doughnut. The shop itself is a bit of an oddment, seeming to cater to a young crowd with the decor and music.

We toyed with cancelling our reso at Raven and Rose to try our luck at Ox but the weather had turned cold so it was Double Moutain Cask ($6), gnocchi with padron peppers ($15), pineapple phosphate ($5), romaine salad ($11), sand dabs ($14) with skeleton, scallop – one! ($16), side of Yorkshire pudding ($2) and squid salad ($14) for us. I think this place suffers a bit from being too commercial, and it also has some identity problems in the food.

The plates all had elements that seemed out of place, and the menu itself seems a bit disjointed, though to be fair we stuck to apps so maybe the mains are stronger. Hard to put your finger on but it just wasn't as good as it should have been for the money. The pineapple phosphate was very good.

Wednesday morning was my day to get the tire repaired so it was off to Beaverton at 6:30 in the morning. Thank heaven for TomTom! I had an okay breakfast at the Black Bear Diner while waiting for the car to be ready.

When I got back the SO was dealing with a work sitch so I nipped off to the Shemanski Park farmers market. It is very small but I nabbed some nice apples and saw Naomi Pomeroy of Beast and Top Chef Masters fame buying produce for the resto with an assistant which was kind of fun. Loved that I was able to park only a half block away.

Lunch saw us sipping a wonderful bumbleberry lemonade at Bijou; the omelette special was well received. Corn (pan)cakes and chicken came with a too sweet sauce and the portion was ridonk but this place has potential for sure. Lovely sunny space too and friendly service.

Blue Collar Bakery for a few bits and pieces. The savoury pie looked great. The cookies we tried were just okay but the mini-bundts are worth the calories.

We checked out White Owl for happy hour which was diverting. Drinks were generous if not inspired, beer was cold and cheap, and we had a couple of deep-fried things, which is always good. They have a great patio which would have been ideal if it were a few degrees warmer out. The fire pit was lit while we were there and there were a surprising number of patrons for a Tuesday afternoon. Lots of smokers...

Hit up Cacao for an impromptu chocolate tasting while the SO was perusing CDs at Everyday Music. I had tried a 100% bar at the Meadow after Uptown that was interesting but the one here from Soma (Canadian, whee!) was revelatory. I may finally be getting the savoury chocolate thing.

I'd been trying to get to the cart for several trips so our visit to Sok Sab Bai's newish bricks and mortar for dinner was overdue. We tried Plee-uh Sighk Ko (Momma’s beef ceviche) $7, Salaw Machu Krueng $12 topnotch soup with delightful tiny eggplants and beautifully tangy tamarind, Dhwa Ko (Khmer sausage) $12 Prahok Katee $10 – ground pork with veggies for dipping. They were out of amok trey, our target dish. but got this instead and enjoyed it. We'd return to this unassuming restaurant for sure but hope that they do something about the service which was clueless, verging on incompetent. Picked up a couple of bottles of Da Sauce to take home.

I noticed 50 Licks ice cream around the corner and tried a few flavours. Some were grainy, some not so successful but the passionfruit with Sichuan peppercorn sorbet is delightful. Would be nice to be able to get just one scoop.

We stopped by Coava for a coffee on Thursday morning. Capp for SO with a savoury scone from Nuvrei.

We went back to Evoe for duck salad, chanterelles with raw egg on top, and my most fave beet salad with different greens, in what may be our last chance at Kevin Gibson's small plates if the perhaps premature announcement of his new place bear fruit. We did wait quite a while for the duck salad, our first such experience there.

I really wanted the SO to try Roseline after our lovely americanos from Maglia Rosa, so we hit up Arbor Lodge for a Catapult and a muffin, I think from Nuvrei. The coffee was spot on, pulled by the owner of Tanager, another fairly new local roaster. I'd come back here for the coffee and the ambiance (and we did!)

Burger and a wedge salad at the Red Fox for happy hour. This place is a bit divey as promised but lovely service and a v tasty burger. The wedge salad also hit the spot. Not the place to go if you don’t like metal.

Picked up some GF beer for a friend, drove around a bit to do so and looked in a few markets, including the Sheridan Fruit Company where I got some excellent house brand dried mango.

Stopped at the Tin Bucket on Williams to sample a few beers and bought a couple of Stiegl, canned Austrian radlers, as the one I had at Belmont Station from Ten Barrels was no longer available. Not as good by a long shot, alas, kind of one grapefruit note, but still refreshing.

Our next spot was just for me: Reverend Nat's Hard Cider, where I tried the tasting flight of six which includes all the ciders they have on tap minus the guest brew and one special item, the Lorie’s Gold, which could be had separately in a 4 oz size for $4. Very cozy tasting area set inside the cidery, lovely and knowledgeable service by a female ciderista.

Roost on our last night turned out to be the SO’s favourite meal. It’s a casual, stylish room in the Buckman, the staff are young but professional, and the food is prepared well with some interesting twists and value prices. So why is it so empty? Scotch eggs($7) [photo], onion leaves ($7), green bean Caesar ($8) and sole ($20) were more than enough food for two. We also had a custard with pastry for dessert ($7). With a Blonde Ale ($5.50) for the SO the total was just $55. I'd love to head back there for dinner again, or to try their intriguing sounding weekend brunch menu

We tried to go to Broder’s on the way out of town but it was packed with a roomful waiting next door. We ended up getting some pastries to go from Di Prima Dolci, plus hitting a couple of places for coffee. First we went to Coffeehouse Five where I had a mocha and the SO had a cappuccino. We also ate a buckwheat scone and a corn and cheese muffin from Bakeshop. I liked these better than other items I’ve tried before from Bakeshop as they were less sweet. Although the fare was fine at CH5, we weren't crazy about the atmosphere which seemed a bit over-caffeinated. We stopped by Arbor Lodge again to try the Tanager El Talapo from El Salvador for the road.

Thus endeth another super sojourn in Portland. Till the spring, local lovelies!

Some pix: doughnuts and duck hash at Accanto, soup and peppers at Evoe, sopaipillas and guac at Xico, Heart coffees

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