Restaurants & Bars

First Thursday and Urban Wine Works and Daily Cafe- Portland's Pearl District - long

Jill-O | May 3, 200212:37 PM    

I had heard about First Thursday from some Portland friends who have lived here a long time. The first Thursday of every month many of the galleries in the Pearl (and downtown, I hear) have openings. In addition, there is an open air art market and other, peripheral, art vendors. There were also 2 live entertainment acts, friend and I (partner is out of town helping her sister move - in the food wasteland that is Maumee, OH...oy) saw the one at 9pm (other was at 7pm)which was a group of fire dancers performing to a great drumming and chanting group. Lots of fun, mostly outside stuff with the galleries and shops providing indoor entertainment.

Before we enjoyed the open air art market we made a stop at Urban Wine Works. I had passed by it on my previous jaunt to the Pearl (it is near the entrance to 405 on NW 16th betw. Flanders and Glisan) and saw all of these casks and wondered what the heck is that (as partner speeded onto the highway)? I went online and found out that UWW is a winery using the grapes from various vineyards in the Willamette and Columbia Valleys. Friend is a viticulturist and a smalltime (for herself and friends) winemaker herself, so it was a fun thing to do together.

The place is neat. There is original art on a bunch of the barrels from different artists. For First Thursday they had a very pleasant jazz trio. They had tastings [the Urban Five - 5 tastes of whites and reds for $5, and the Ultimate Three (or something like that) a taste of 3 reds (merlot, cab franc, and syrah)]and you could buy munchies. It was a nice basket but a bit steep in price and they let you bring your own munchies too so I would do that if I went again.

Tasted the 3 reds and the syrah was very pleasant and the merlot OK but the cab franc tanked. Still the atmosphere was pleasant and I had a very nice time there. They offer a blending course on Tues. nights where you learn about blending the three reds together. You get a carafe and blending kit (with measuring cylinders, etc.) and you get to fill it with your blend to take with you (they cork it). In fact, you can keep coming back and getting a refill for your carafe (less $1 for recycling the carafe) - either your preferred blend, or any wine on its own. Sounds interesting.

After that we did the open air art thing (around NW 13th and Hoyt) and after walking around, I suggested the Daily Cafe. So we went and friend had a lamb shank vindaloo that looked awesome. It was a generous shank and came with sides of baba ganoush and minted yogurt and a chutney. I don't care for lamb, she said it was very, very good. Looked to be so from across the table. Cost - $13

I had a wonderful plate of seared scallops in a light Carribbean sauce (curry-ish but not quite), surrounding a nice and tasty mound of rice and peas (pigeon peas - keeping with the islands theme) and garnished with fried plantain. Deeeelicious. The scallops were perfect, the sauce flavorful and light, it was great. Cost - $13

I had couple of glasses of a lovely Prosecco di Valdobbiadene, an Italian sparkling wine. Friend had a couple glasses of a red malbec, which she enjoyed. ALL of the wines on their list (a sparkler, 4 whites, 4 reds - they change them around fairly frequently) are $5 glass/$21 bottle.

Dessert was great. We shared a bittersweet chocolate tart with carmel sauce and whipped cream and a neat spun sugar garnish. Very tasty and definitely one to share! The tart and the cream were not sweet but the carmel was and it was a nice combo, if a bit rich. There was also a choice of a strawberry clafouti which has to be ordered about 25 minutes in advance. And there was another dessert that sounded good - assorted ice cream sandwiches with different cookies and flavors of ice cream. I think the desserts are $5 or $6.

We were pleasantly full without appetizers or salads or even coffee. The food was very well prepared, the service great, the ingredients top-notch. All for $51 + tip. A steal, really, as the meal was worth twice that, easily. Then we walked outside and watched the fire dancers...neat ending to a nice evening.

SO why were there only a few other tables of people in there?? Even on First Thursday! They said that the last couple of First Thursdays were crowded and they expected the same this time, but it didn't happen. It wasn't crowded the last time we went, either. I cannot understand this. I know it is at the edge of the trendy Pearl, but still, it is not exactly far away from the galleries and other stores and restaurants that it should be empty.

Daily Cafe is on NW 13th and Kearney. Find it and go there and then you can thank me for the recommendation. Come back and post to tell us what YOU had there to eat!

P.S. - I hear that they do a mean brunch on the weekend...

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