While Tina contributed a lot of photos, today's post was written by Ed (from Yuma) about explorating parts of Portland with some old friends. Tomorrow's post will be from Kirk or Cathy. Now you know.
We were looking forward to a couple of days with Steve and Helen, friends who live in Monterey CA. They had been visiting Steve's sister in Vancouver WA, so we picked them up and descended on downtown Portland.
It was lunchtime, and we were looking for interesting and inexpensive food. The food carts around SW10th Ave and Alder fit the bill:
All kinds of choices:
Tina, Helen, and I decided on Eurodish – street cart Polish food:
The Polish sausage (on a bun) was grilled only after it was ordered, placed on a nice large bun, and (since Tina asked for everything on it) looked like this:
Seriously, there is a Polish sausage hiding under the profusion of condiments. Much yumminess. What a hot dog aspires to become when it grows up.
I chose combination #2, a cabbage roll and dumplings:
The dumplings had a soft chew and were cheesy, creamy, and pleasantly bland; the onion and red pepper slices a nice contrast. The cabbage roll was a pretty good rendition. The tomato sauce was pretty straightforward, but there was a nice picante touch. The beefy rice filling was flavorful, and I loved the triple layers of cabbage – the roll tasted like cabbage:
Steve, being a Philly boy, had to have a cheese steak which came with curly fries. He pronounced it very good, considering it was Portland Oregon and not South Philly:
One advantage/disadvantage of the carts is that there is no seating provided, so we and a lot of other folks found impromptu spots to set ourselves and eat around the fountains in Director Park at Ninth and Yamhill.
After lunch, we started strolling south by southwest through the South Park Blocks. This picture shows the basic layout – a small park area flanked by two city streets:
But that small park area extends for 14 blocks. It is a beautiful walk with a variety of people – tourists, students, and the homeless:
Canopies of leaves above people hurrying somewhere or just sitting on a bench and talking:
A guitar and accordion duet:
There is also some old-school statuary. A classical water bearer, probably a Naiad:
A pensive Abraham Lincoln:
In the distance, an equestrian statue of Theodore Roosevelt in the beautiful park setting:
And here is good ol’ Teddy, ready to charge up San Juan Hill:
The Portland Art Museum, adjacent to the park, has some public statuary of its own, such as this beautiful intertwined couple:
Or this striking female who perfectly matches her surroundings:
Most of the time we were walking slightly uphill as the Park comes closer to the hills that flank the west side of Portland:
The southwestern end of the linear park extends into Portland State University. In that area there is a nice rose garden:
So Tina stopped to photograph one of the roses:
Then the elongated park transforms into a campus: A very pleasant walk, but we had to turn around and walk 14 blocks back in the direction of our car. As we approached the northeast end of the Park, we were all feeling a bit peckish, and I for one was looking for somewhere I could sit down for a while. I looked over my restaurant list to see if anything was nearby. I mentioned Veritable Quandary at 1220 SW 1st, and Steve said, "Oh, that's close – only eight or nine blocks away." So off we marched.
We sat down at the bar and each ordered a glass of wine. I had Elk Cove Pinot Gris, but I'm not sure about the others. We liked the atmosphere and the menu was sufficiently interesting, but when we asked about dinner, they told us that the dining room was booked up until 8:30 that night. By then, I would have starved, I'm afraid, or drunk myself to complete silliness. Fortunately our helpful server suggested that we eat in the bar area; in fact, she said, that she would put together two small tables at the window for us. Wow, sure, yeah, thanks!
While there was a television with some game on, no one would confuse this place with a sports bar:
Considering we were stuck at the end of the bar area, the service was outstanding throughout the meal, so here's a shout out for Sasha who was a perfect server (and she does not look this fuzzy in person):
The bread that was placed on the table was probably the most impressive I had on the trip. The dark rustic crust and the firm flavorful crumb reminded me of the breads of central Europe:
Sasha also helped us choose a wine, a reasonably priced Pinot Blanc from Elk Cove. Usually a glass of wine looks pretty much like any other glass, but for me, this glass weirdly reflects the ambience of the evening:
Or maybe it's just a bad photo.
We chose the rabbit pâté for our appetizer:
Fortunately Tina took a much better shot of the appetizer:
The pâté itself, wrapped in bacon, was smooth, savory, and rich. The brioche was light and crunchy, and we liked it so much that Sasha brought us extra.
While the two different mustards were nothing special, the prune jam was an unusual sweet complement, the watercress added a green and mildly bitter touch, and I nearly swooned over the pickled pear.
For their main courses, Steve and Helen decided to share, so Helen ordered the Caesar salad:
It certainly looked nice – an attractive pile of romaine lettuce fancied up with Parmesan cheese, black pepper, and a Caesar dressing.
Tina chose the house made brie ravioli:
The two giant pasta pouches lay atop wedges of roasted hubbard squash, the whole thing covered with grated cheese (Pecorino?) and fresh frisee. In a way, a really unusual pasta salad. The firm autumnal squash so different in texture and flavors to the richly melty cheesy ravioli and both set off by the crunchy lettuce and slightly tart, oil based dressing.
Steve and I had decided on the same thing, the fish special of the evening, something called Blackened Hawaiian Walu:
The large fish steaks that perched on roasted sweet potato wedges were accompanied by radicchio, micro greens, and a tangy sauce.
And the fish tasted very good. It was extremely rich and had a distinctive almost waxy texture. The blackening added a spicy note, and both Steve and I appreciated that the fish had not been over cooked:
Luckily, none of us had a bad digestive reaction to the fish, which we have since learned is more commonly called escolar and is banned in Japan, a country that happily devours fugu and chicken sashimi. It’s good to be lucky sometimes.
For dessert, we shared two items. First, a scoop of house made vanilla bean ice cream:
It was decent and the cookie added a contrastive crunch.
The chocolate soufflé was the highlight of the desserts:
Warm and puffy chocolate pillow with gooey chocolate sauce. More proof that the best thing you can eat with chocolate is more chocolate.
For the quality of the meal and service overall, the bill seemed reasonable:
As we walked another 10 blocks back to the car through the pleasantly cool evening, we all thought it'd been a pretty good day adventuring in Portland, though I'm sure Steve and Helen felt we hadn't walked quite enough.
Kirk and Cathy have real jobs, and today they're either working on them or relaxing. So this mmm-yoso!!! blogpost, about a day trip to the Oregon coast, is by Ed (from Oregon originally).
During the middle of October, Tina and I spent more than a week in Northwestern Oregon (including PDX). Tina, who owns a real camera, brought it along, so most of the good pics in my Oregon posts will come from her, especially the outdoor shots – all I can photograph is food, it seems.
As well as getting together with relatives and friends in the area, some days we were on our own. When we woke up in Hillsboro Oregon on Monday morning, even the Hampton Inn parking lot was beautiful in the fog:
Soon we left the fog behind as we headed west on Highway 26, enjoying the colors of the season:
Though the fog was still visible in the distance when we stopped at a viewpoint in the coastal range:
In less than an hour and a half, we arrived at Cannon Beach, just south of the intersection of 26 with Highway 101, famous for its large beach and iconic Haystack Rock:
Our friend, part-time Oregon resident, gourmet cook and witty blogger, Joanie, texted Tina and said we had to eat at the Wayfarer:
The dining space was attractive and the windows looked out at the beach and Haystack Rock – look real carefully out the window:
Wanting to drink local, Tina and I had a glass of Archery Summit Pinot Gris and one of Domaine Drouhin Chardonnay:
Both were good, but the Chardonnay amazed me since most Oregon Chardonnays that I drank way back when seemed thin and acidic. This one was a classic refined focused Chardonnay.
The lunch itself started with some tasty warm bread and attractive chilled butter:
We were on the coast, so a cup of clam chowder was necessary:
Quite impressive. Full of tender pieces of clam and bits of potato, covered with a luscious, rich, creamy, savory broth. A classic version of the soup.
Joanie had advised Tina to have the Dungeness crab sandwich with garlic fries, so that's what she ordered. The garlic fries came with ketchup and a tangy aioli, and they were crispy and reasonably garlicky:
On first inspection, the sandwich looked like mostly baguette and melted cheese:
But it was packed full of flavorful moist Dungeness crab:
I chose a different local favorite, razor clams:
This variety of bivalve got its common name because it looked like the old school straight razor case into which the sharp blade was folded when not in use – kind of like an elongated sunglasses case. Nowadays the razor clams on beaches in Oregon and Washington cannot be commercially harvested so the pan fried clams on my plate, flavorful, a little crunchy, and tender chewy, probably came from Alaska. Still, a real treat for me.
I also loved the sides. The jalapeño jelly was sweet and tasty with the clams, but I preferred the old school dill flavored tartar sauce. The herbed rice contained a lot of wild rice as well as perfectly al dente green and yellow split peas. Nice flavor/texture combo. The fresh green beans, toothsomely prepared, were lightly flecked with garlic.
A very pleasing lunch. Thanks for the tip, Joanie!
After we paid our tab,:
we strolled down to the beach past one of the ubiquitous tsunami warning signs. Every time I see one, I think, "I'm betting on the wave.":
The road south from Cannon beach is often quite striking and occasionally sublime. For a while, it clings to the side of Neahkahnie Mountain hundreds of feet above the Pacific:
Then it comes back down close to sea level and sloughs and estuaries appear:
Here's Tillamook Bay, the picture taken from close to Garibaldi:
The road back to Portland area from Tillamook is easy driving and about as quick as the trip out on Highway 26. Nonetheless, after a day driving around, Tina and I decided to have a simple meal in Hillsboro.
We were staying in Hillsboro for a few days because of its proximity to friends and relatives, the Oregon wine country, and the coast, but most people who live in the area are connected to the tech industry, particularly Intel. So we figured there had to be a decent Indian restaurant nearby. A brief search on Tina's iPad led us to Urban Masala, which had just opened a couple of months earlier:
We enjoyed the Indian music in the background, but the decor and ambience were otherwise unremarkable:
The food, however, was pretty good, beginning with the complimentary papadum:
The chana masala was simple, spicy, and pretty straightforward:
The baigan bharta was far better than my photo of it:
The impressive khoormani ghosht, apricot lamb, showed off the tender gamy lamb with the sweetness of the fruit and abundant spice:
Equally outstanding was the wonderful garlic naan:
Light, puffy, crunchy flatbread, hot from the oven, as good as I've ever had.
Dinner tab less than half of lunch:
All in all, it was a good day. Gorgeous weather and scenery. Good food. Tina. Can't really ask for more.
Having completed breakfast, the Missus was ready to start with today's mission....first chocolates, then beer.
A few blocks away was a location of Moonstruck Chocolate Café.
We entered the tiny shop so the Missus could add to Her collection of confections. The woman manning the counter was very nice and we found the Oregon Craft Brewers collection to be quite interesting. I did have a taste of the Rogue Hazelnut Brown, which was really, really, good.
And so the Missus was able to add to Her collection and we were able to grab a few gifts as well.
Moonstruck Chocolate Cafe 608 SW Alder St Portland, OR 97205
On our way back from The Cheese Shop the previous day, I pointed out a chocolate shop named Alma. The Missus did a Google Search and came up with an address. It said NE 28th Street......which was strange since I recall seeing the shop fairly close to the Hawthorne Bridge. But we trudged onward for 2 miles and change.....
I did get to take this really nice photo of the Steel Bridge though.
Upon arriving, I knew we hadn't passed this shop the day before. Temps were going to hit the mid 90's on this day and I was already hot and bothered by the time we arrived.
But at least the Missus got to add to Her chocolate collection.
We did learn that Alma had just opened their second shop on SE 7th a few days ago....which is why it didn't appear in the Google search. The girl here thought it was pretty funny that we'd walk all the way from Downtown to visit....
Alma Chocolate 140 NE 28th Ave Portland, OR 97232
Man was it getting hot......and the Missus could tell it was getting to me. We stopped and had a Pellegrino at the nearby Whole Foods, which I recalled from the time we ate at Davenport on our last trip. Revived we decided to do the mile and a half walk to The Commons Brewery, which we had also seen on the #15 bus the day before. It was a long mile and a half and by the time we saw the building, the Missus was doing a good bit of whining.
Loved the industrial look, the high ceilings and wide open spaces. I do wish there was some A/C though as was getting a bit warm in the building.
Loved the beer selection and the place seemed to complete the set with their own resident Hipster.
The Commons brews Belgians, a lot of Saisons, which seemed perfect for a hot day like this.
So we started with a flight of tasters.
My favorite on this day was the very clean, slightly grassy, refreshing, "Petit Classique".
This was a nice stop.
The Commons Brewery 630 SE Belmont St Portland, OR 97214
We decided on catching the bus back...on our now favorite route, #15. As we left, the bus had just stopped across the street. We were stuck on the red light. But this is Portland and they have some of the nicest bus drivers we've ever run into. I waved at the driver, she smiled and waved back and made a hand sign telling me not to rush across the street....you gotta love these folks!
If this post seems familiar, well, it should. Call me a creature of habit....or perhaps as the Missus puts it; "boring". On our second morning I got up before the Missus and went for a walk. Not far mind you. My joints were creaking from the day before.
I could tell that it was going to be a hot one as the sun rose quite brightly over Pioneer Courtyard Square. Though I've walked through this square quite a few times, I realized that I had never taken a decent photo of that iconic Bronze Sculpture named Allow Me, by Seward Johnson. So I finally got a fairly decent shot.....
I then headed up (down?) SW Washington and back to Blue Star Donuts.
Things weren't quite as busy as they were the last time around.
Since our breakfast destination didn't open until 9am, I decided to pick up (only) 2 donuts for the Missus and I to sample. I got the Missus the Chocolate Ganache...She loved the chocolate topping, but apparently is not a big fan on the brioche style dough used for the donuts.
Me...the one without a sweet tooth, really enjoyed the Orange - Olive Oil donut. It was totally an "grown up" flavored treat....not too sweet.
Just something to keep us until breakfast.....
Blue Star Donuts 1237 SW Washington St Portland, OR 97205
It might sound a bit strange, but we both enjoy veggies/salads for breakfast, so the "Simple Greens" was really nice....especially since it was already getting pretty hot outside.
Crisp,. nicely chilled vegetables.....very refreshing with a simple dressing.
I believed we needed something more substantial, so we went with Aaron's Northwest Migas.
Sort of like a Chilaquiles meets Tex-Mex version of Migas....this was fine. The corn and the green chilies made the dish. It was hearty without being too filling. Not sure if I would have this again....for us, it seems that TnA does veggies the best, but it was quite filling as we'd end up walking a lot more (duh) than I'd anticipated.
Tasty n Alder 580 SW 12th Ave Portland, OR 97205
After breakfast....we were off on a chocolate hunt for the Missus....stay tuned!
After a badly needed, though seemingly all too short nap and shower(s) we headed off to dinner. And yes, we were walking there.
Past the First Presbyterian Church, headed into a part of Portland called the Alphabet District in Northwest Portland. Up funky and eclectic 23rd (often called "trendy-third") Avenue. Trendy eateries and boutiques, next to dive bars, next to New Age Bookstores, this tree lined street sure has character. The Missus told me; "this is what Adams Avenue wished it looked like...."
Taking a left on Thurman onto quiet NW 23rd Place is a rather new; and much heralded restaurant named Ataula. The Chef, Jose Chesa is from Barcelona and I noticed quite a few familiar names when looking over the menu online; "Montadito", Pa amb Tomaquet, Berenjena....." spilled off the menu. We were just a few months removed from our trip to Barcelona and Spain. Any meal that would vicariously take us back was something to be treasured. I also noticed that Ataula had won many accolades in the rather short time it had been open. So it was really a no brainer.....
What was also a no-brainer was getting there early as Ataula does not take reservations for parties of less than 6. Good thing is; they open at 430pm....and we managed to get there via footmobile at just past that time.
The dining area is pretty simple, with high ceilings, though the hard surfaces really reflect the sound and it was pretty hot in the place on this day.
The best way to describe the nice folks here is....well....enthusiastic with a nice dose of Portland friendliness.
We started with the Pa amb Tomaquet, the classic Catalan bread rubbed with tomato and drizzles of Olive Oil.
The olive oil really lacked the nice, strong grassy flavors that we enjoy and the tomatoes, while sweet, lacked a good acid bite. The kitchen was a bit over zealous in the use of salt in this as well. It wasn't bad, but it won't make us forget the Pan con Tomate we had at Bar del Pla. Sometimes it's the simplest dishes that are the hardest.
The Empanadilla; this one filled with oxtails and Jamon Bellota, no cutting corners here; real Jamon de Bellota, acorn fed Jamon is used here.
Man, these were so crisp, the filling so rich and beefy, without being salty; hints of an almost red bell pepper flavor with a touch of heat. This would have been perfect with some kind of sauce, alioli, or like Galician Empanadillas, where a Sofrito (Spanish style - tomato based) is used in the filling to add that touch of acid.
Still these were delicious.
You might recall in my Le Pigeon post, I mentioned that while the Grilled Short Rib dish was our overall favorite entrée; it was not my favorite single "bite" of the trip. Meet my favorite bite:
This is Ataula's take on the classic tapa, the Cojonudo. It is pretty much a Cojonudo, but the presentation is plain beautiful; the quail egg perfect; the yolk soft and runny, the edges crisp. The chorizo had a mild spice, but lots of smokey paprika flavor; that slice of piquillo pepper just balanced everything out. The crisp crostini added a wonderful crisp component.....the perfect bite.
The theme of taking classic Spanish tapas and adding a spin to make the dish both fun and familiar was on fine display when the Berenjena arrived.
If you've read any of our posts on Spain you'd sort of recognize this dish. In places like, say Los Huevos de Lucio in Madrid, sliced, fried eggplant, would be served with a thick Salmorejo sauce, much like what I make in my recipe. Here, the eggplant is fried with a crisp exterior and creamy interior and shaped like fries. Instead of the salmorejo, a garlic forward romesco sauce is used. The seasoning danced on the edge of being too salty, but the other spices, hints of cumin and coriander, helped balance that out. A really good dish.
The Costilla was interesting.
The confit boned pork rib was wonderfully moist and tender, but I'd have enjoyed a bit of textural contrast. The sauce; which was claimed to be "salmorejo" really cancelled out the flavor of the pork. It was too strong and on the salty side.
I really wanted to try the "Pulpo" and I'm glad we did.
The thinly sliced octopus was super tender and full of flavor....the pulpo flavor hadn't been masked. I loved the simply dressed greens; each type, from the arugula to the various lettuces had their own taste sensation; bitter, aldehyde flavors, and so forth. The pine nuts went so well with the vinaigrette that you could probably just eat pine nuts and dressing. If anything, I thought the shaving of the parmesano reggiano was too thick and large...it was too much for a bite in terms of milky-saltiness. That's splitting hairs though, as this was a fantastic dish.
And the really amazing thing? Along with two "Spiced Sangria", the bill came out to less than $60! Just think what something like this would cost in San Diego? Plus, no tax!
What a wonderful meal....we'll be back.....
Ataula 1818 NW 23rd Pl Portland, OR 97210
After dinner we headed across the street to the Organic Market where the Missus picked up several different apples...Her dessert.
We then headed down 23rd.......but in a moment of mercy (I think She was feeling the mileage too), I saw that my (now) favorite bus line, the #15 headed back into downtown.
Of course after getting back to the hotel and taking (yet another) shower, the Missus decided that we should....take a walk of course!
You gotta love some of the window displays.....
And then there were the "window displays" that were actually real! This rather scary looking dog with the evil eyes....was an actual poodle. It was standing totally still......
When the dog moved it made us both jump!
As we headed back to the hotel I saw the Missus looking at Her iPhone. She told me, "let's go around the block this way...." When I asked Her why, She said "my app is saying that we've walked 12.65 miles today....I want to make it an even 12.75." Say what? But of course I went along....and according to Her handy-dandy app we walked 12.75 miles and the next morning my body felt every step! But we were on vacation so I'm supposed to feel that way...right?
I'd planned on having one "walking" (aka death march) day in Portland and this Thursday was to be it. Little did I know just how much walking we'd do.....on this day and the next because of some unplanned detours.
Things started as planned. Just a block or so away from the hotel is Case Study Coffee Roasters. Very chill and mellow.
The Missus got a pour-over, which was nice, and She decided that I should get the Lavender Infused Cold Brew...which seemed kind of, well, feminine.....but was nice with a refreshing clean finish.
Case Study Coffee 802 SW 10th Ave Portland, OR 97205
The plan was as follows...the Missus wanted to walk, so I'd decided to head to Mount Tabor, via the Hawthorne Bridge and Hawthorne Boulevard. A decent 4 - 4 1/2 mile walk. We'd take our time and have lunch at Cheese Bar on SE Belmont Street, then catch the #15 Bus back to the hotel for a nice afternoon nap before walking another couple of miles to dinner. As we left case study, the Missus decided that we needed to try Tasty n Sons. We'd gone to Tasty n Alder twice during our last visit to Portland and She wanted to see how TnS lined up.... So let's just add another 4 miles total to things shall we? One does not argue with the Missus when She gets into "mission mode".....
So off we went. The Broadway Bridge was undergoing some work as we crossed so the bike lane and pedestrian walk area was a single thin path. Folks were biking to work so we'd stop and move under the scaffolding to let them pass. I'd forgotten how friendly and nice folks in PDX were. Every bike rider who passed us and there were many smiled and said "thank you"......
We crossed over the I-5 over to N Vancouver, then to N Williams Avenue. Man that part of North Williams near the Emanuel Medical Center is kind of depressing....but you soon get close to NE Fremont Street with the ton of bikes (3,000 bike commuters on this street daily is what I read), businesses, and gentrification. We'd arrived.....
The building Tasty n Sons is located in is quite interesting, it's named the Hub and contains almost every single type of new-agey business you can imagine, even a Naturopathic Vet!
Anyway, we were seated quickly upon entering the restaurant....we found the service here to not be quite as friendly or efficient as Tasty n Alder or even Toro Bravo (an upcoming post). Still, we sat at the counter facing the street and had a nice meal.
Seeing Shakshuka on the menu, we couldn't resist...and of course, there's the Missus's love of runny eggs...and my love of grilled bread.
The eggs were wonderfully runny, the bread nicely charred and smokey. The shakshuka could have had a bit more zip; both in terms of heat, sweet red pepper, and tangy tomato flavors. Of course, since we make our own at home quite often, we have a certain expectation in terms of flavor and prep. Still, this was good.
The real winner was the Moroccan Chicken Hash and of course, yet another egg for the Missus.
The spice-salt-earthy flavors was just what we were craving. The chicken was nicely seasoned and the creamy sauce brought everything together.
During the recent hot weather, I've been making a nice chilled heirloom tomato and mozzarella salad with aged balsamic and Arbequina Olive Oil, which is so delicious. So we were excited to try the Heirloom Tomatoes. Well, you can't claim false advertising as it is heirloom tomato slices.
To our tastes it was a little low on both the acid and sweetness scale and the kitchen had been a bit too liberal in the application of salt.
Overall a nice, hearty, but not too heavy breakfast. I had encouraged the Missus to order the Radicchio Salad here, but for some reason She decided not to. Something She'd regret later.
Tasty n Sons 3808 N Williams Ave Portland, OR 97212
And so with some cajoling I got my butt in gear and we headed east on NE Fremont, then down MLK Boulevard. On this day, the temps were supposed to hit the high 80's (the next day would go into the 90's) and it was getting pretty warm by the time we got NE Belmont. The walk was slightly uphill, but not too steep.
There are quite a few interesting places along the way.....
Over 5 miles later, we got to the place I'd originally planned as our lunch stop; Cheese Bar.
We've really been enjoying cheese over the last couple of years. Cheese Bar along with the new "Chizu" in downtown are retail/cheese-wine bars owned by Steve Jones former winner of the National Cheese Monger Invitational Contest.
I was pooped, hot, and rather sweaty. Strangely, I was also a bit hungryl. Cheese Bar serves up cheese boards, charcuterie boards featuring Olympia Provisions products, sandwiches, beer, wine, and salads. We just ordered two cheese boards and had some highly restorative mineral water.
The House Cheese Board featured three Spanish Cheeses, chutney, and crostini ($11).
Really nice aged Sheep's milk cheeses. From right to left, a Mahón Reserva, a Buenalba, and a very nutty Zamorano. The Mahón seemed a bit behind the other two in terms of assertive flavors. But after letting the flavors open up as it reached room temperature the sweetness of the cheese became apparent.
We also got the "Stinky" Board with Crostini ($8).
The Grayson (on the left) is slightly ripe, though quite mild in flavor. The Vulto Creamery Ouleout has a wonderful texture, a slightly ripe smell but was also a bit mild for our taste. I guess we've gotten used to Harbison.
This was a nice stop for a light lunch. If we'd been doing some self-catering, we'd surely have gotten a couple of cheeses and a baguette.
Cheese Bar 6031 SE Belmont Portland, OR 97215
I really looked like "Ji-chan" as I stood up....geez, I'm surely not getting any younger.....especially after taking a "nice" over 9 mile morning walk! The Missus was nice enough to allow us to return to downtown on the #15 bus. I crawled back to our hotel room, showered....and then it was time for a short nap. Which I hoped would be restorative since we'd be walking to dinner!
Call it unfinished business. You know how that goes....we really need to close that circle; like returning to Istanbul twice to get things right. After our meal at Little Bird Bistro, the Missus really wanted to return to Portland. Which is how we ended up on the Red Line to Downtown PDX watching this couple and their ferret. He, smelling like he'd been knocking back a few....as if to confirm this, taking a "48" out of his bag and having a couple of swigs. She meanwhile, was going goo-goo and gaa-gaa over the little guy. As soon as they told the person sitting across the way from them how sweet the little fellow was, he dropped a huge load on her bag. Life is funny that way.
Anyway, we had caught the late afternoon flight to Portland, took the Red Line...a bargain at $2.50 a person downtown and to our hotel; the Paramount. I'd made late reservations at Le Pigeon....late enough that the Missus decided that we should walk the mile and a half or so to the restaurant.
Which was actually a pretty nice walk, in spite of having to pass all the street folks along the way. It was also quite warm.....and it would get much hotter, though not quite as bad as it was in San Diego at the time.
Since it was late in the evening, Le Pigeon wasn't too crowded and we got in a bit early.
The staff were very professional though I'm not a big fan of the communal seating. Call me anti-social, but we can really do without the fake cheer and really don't want to know your business, whether it's your prostate problem, or how you're getting sued by your patients and can't find a job on the West Coast anymore....and even more so all of your food allergies. The long suffering young lady put on a cheerful front when the guy sitting next to us insisted upon getting the tasting menu...then went down the list of all his allergies...tomatoes, avocados, carrots, garlic, this type of milk product, that type of milk product, gluten, blah, blah, blah.....I really, really don't want to know that the only thing in the world you can consume is breast milk. Why in the world are you getting the tasting menu when you can't eat anything except cardboard?
Meanwhile, our meal was excellent.
From the Foie Gras "Hot Brown" ($25), a wonderful piece of nicely seared foie gras that just melted in your mouth. The turkey, which tasted smoked was full of flavor as was the bacon.....
The egg was a wonderful runny joy, we loved the acid from the tomatoes, and the toast was light and quite crisp. Tell you what....I'll take a slice of foie gras over Mornay sauce on my Hot Brown any day of the week.
And while the Ricotta Gnocchi ($16) was a bit too "squeaky" for our tastes, the cheese and the sauce were wonderful.
Perfect garlic, salt, milky flavors in harmony....the wonderfully beefy beef tongue in the dish just topped things off.
The best overall dish of our trip (not necessarily the best bite...more on that later) in my opinion was the Grilled Short Rib ($29).
The short rib was amazing. Ever had medium rare, thick cut short rib that wasn't on the tough side? This was just toothful enough, nicely seared, beefy, and yes, medium rare. I'm thinking sous vide? And yet, my favorite component was the wonderful mashed potatoes....it had a mild sweetness and I swear, there was a familiar umami flavor to it. We were told that sweet corn and miso was pureed with the potatoes. The smoked corn and tomato salad with soy braised oxtail was excellent. I'd go back to Le Pigeon just for those potatoes.
Our least favorite dish of the night was the Beef Cheek Bourguinon ($28).
While the texture of the braised beef cheek was just perfect; fork tender without being mushy. The sauce was just plain overkill; much too sour and bitter for our taste. The risotto, made with that wonderful, ripe, epoisses cheese, would seem to be just up our alley, but the rice was on the tough side with a hard core and that sauce just killed any other flavors.
While I considered ordering the signature foie gras profiteroles, there was just no way I could put away anything more after all this rich food. We went with the Cucumber-Watermelon sorbet ($6) instead, which was still way too much for us to finish.
The service was friendly, professional, and the timing excellent.
I'm thinking Le Pigeon will be a regular stop on future visits to Portland.
Le Pigeon 738 E Burnside St Portland, OR 97214
We enjoyed a nice walk back to the hotel after dinner down "colorful" Burnside. It was a warm evening. We'd had a wonderful dinner and this was just our first evening in Portland!
Our last morning started just like the previous one did. The Missus slept in a bit and I took a walk, much shorter this time, and no donuts. We would be grabbing breakfast before checking out and heading to the airport. The Missus really wanted to go back to Tasty N Alder yet again. However, they didn't open until 9, which would be cutting things a bit too close.
So instead we walked one block over to Cheryl's on 12th which opens at 8am on Sundays.
The space reminded me a bit of the London Plane, not as fancy or hip, but this was part market, bakery, deli, as well as restaurant.
We were greeted with a bright smile and led to a nice little table.
Ordering for me was quite easy, though the Missus needed a bit of time.
Meanwhile, our coffee arrived along with some very light, warm, beignets.
The Missus went with the Wild Mushroom Omelete ($9):
While it kind of looked like a hot mess, the flavors were good, sweetness from the caramelized onions and the milky-salty feta cheese balancing out the earthy mushroom flavor. The potatoes were mediocre, bland, greasy, and without color or and crispness.
Minus the avocado and this could have easily been served at, say, Like Like Drive-In, or some other local spot on Oahu. There was a generous portion of sliced and nicely sautéed sausage, decent flavor, nicely spiced, lot's of sausage in the fried rice as well, though the rice was much too hard and needed some shoyu to kick it up a bit. Still, the Missus poached a good amount of the sausage (and the avocado), and this was well worth ten bucks.
Cheryl’s On 12th 1135 SW Washington St Portland, OR 97205 Hours: Mon - Sat 7am - 8pm Sunday 8am - 4pm
In retrospect, we could have easily spent a few more days in PDX. As it was, we missed a few places we had on our list....unfinished business as it were.
It was actually a nice walk. The sky was overcast, but it never rained.
We crossed the Willamette on the Burnside Bridge and passed the iconic Portland White Stag sign.
Traffic looked pretty heavy along Burnside.
You could tell spring was approaching as the Cherry Blossoms were starting to bloom. It was quite a lovely sight.
Our destination was a restaurant named Davenport, which I had read used local ingredients in simple dishes, with excellent and refined technique. The idea is to let the ingredients shine. The Chef Kevin Gibson is a semi-finalist for the James Beard; Best Chef: Northwest category.
There area couple of interesting things about the place, there's no large sign, you have to find 2215 East Burnside, then look for the "red door". Also, the phone conversation for making reservations was, well, interesting.....a woman picked up the phone with simply "hello"...... I had to ask if this was Davenport. At the end of the process, I noticed they hadn't asked for a phone number, so I inquired if they needed one. The answer, "no....if you show up, you show up...if you don't, you don't." Ok.... Well, we did show up.
The menu is ever changing.....in fact, it changes almost everyday.
We loved the menu and it was quite easy to choose our courses.
We had heard that Co-owner Kurt Heilemann curates an amazing wine list. So we asked our server, who was just perfect, efficient, professional, but not stuffy if he would select a glass to pair with each dish.
I will say, that even though I'm not an oenophile, I really enjoyed the pairings. I'm not going to go into detail about the wine, though I will say, the first glass...that Riesling, pared with the foie gras mousse was just perfect. It was without a doubt the best pairing of the evening. When I mentioned how beautiful the stemware was, our server told us it's hand-blown Zalto stemware.
The foie gras mousse was nice, smooth, rich, all you could ever want.
The pate was good, quite refined, balanced in flavor.....perhaps a bit too perfect. Loved the bits of hazelnut which gave it a nice contrasting texture.
For us, it was the pickled sunchokes that really got our attention, great crunch, perfect flavor. The salad was my least favorite....it tasted like it had been dressed with plain white vinegar, as it was way too sour; the pomegranate seeds didn't help adding another layer of tart and tannic flavor to everything.
The rapini, which was beautifully charred, bitterness subdued, smokey flavor enhanced was wonderful.
The addition of the breadcrumbs which added more crunch, only to be balanced with the boiled egg white and richness of the egg yolk just elevated the dish in my opinion. The anchovy was a bit too strong for the dish as just a squeeze of lemon was perfect.
We finished with the grilled lamb shoulder.
Slightly toothsome, but still tender enough considering it was shoulder. The lamb flavor made the perfect, "yes, you are eating lamb" statement. It was perfectly seasoned, a bit too rare for the Missus, but I loved it. The salsa verde really didn'y play into the flavors for me.
Overall, a very nice meal. In terms of service and timing, things were just perfect for us. While we enjoyed our meal, which was good, nothing really extended it into the "great" territory for us. Now the prices, well the food only came out to $60! The wine at $45 almost matched the price of the food. We weren't complaining though as in terms of cost, we thought this to be a reasonably priced meal.
Next time, I think something more along the lines of Le Pigeon would be the Missus's cup of tea.
Davenport 2215 East Burnside Portland, OR 97214
Of course, we weren't quite ready to call it a night. Candice had recommended that we stop in at Belmont Station. So the Missus decided we needed to work off at least a portion of our dinner....so add another mile-and-a-half to the tab. The streets looked rather dark on SE Stark Street and Belmont Station shone like a pearl in the night.
Basically an amazing bottle shop, with a huge 1200+ bottle list. Connected to the shop is the "Biercafe" which has a nice selection of items on tap.
Our "beertender" was a very nice...cool guy. The Missus got a sour and I ordered something that looked quite interesting - the New Belgium Cocoa Mole Spiced Strong Dark Ale. I was asked if I like "interesting flavors" and said yes. The guy behind the bar said, "folks here either love it or instantly dislike it". Me, I loved it....
Like a pseudo porter, with a pronounced chili-chocolate aroma. Since I love chili beers, I really enjoyed this. Mild spice that very slowly intensified, but never really got too hot. The flavor was quite complex. Even the Missus, who is not a big fan of porters really enjoyed this one.
It was a nice way to end our evening.
Belmont Station 4500 SE Stark St Portland, OR 97215
By this time, the Missus had figured I'd done enough walking for the day and decided we could catch the bus back. She did have a change of heart as we crossed the Belmont Bridge and decided to ring for a stop. But after all the walking I had done that day. The stroll back to the hotel was nothing.
Such is a typical day for us when travelling...lots of walking and lots of good food....and drinks!
Funny the difference one trip can make. In Belgium, the Missus discovered that She really loved beer after all. And now, after all these years, I have a beer buddy....my wife! Anyway, the Missus loves Her sours and our good friend Candice, strongly recommended a visit to Cascade Brewing's Barrel House. We'd had some of the Cascade's Sours before, some of which a ridiculously pricey, that we thought this would be a fun visit.....and of course, we needed to walk off lunch. So if you're keeping score, add another half mile to our walk.
Even though it was just after noon, the place was pretty busy.
We decided to head on up to the bar and have a seat.
The list was just absolutely huge.....it was the "Tart Fruit Festival". The Missus was caught in the clutches of analysis paralysis and just couldn't make a decision.
We decided to do tasters, but while I kept searching for styles the Missus would enjoy, basically anything like a Flemish Red, She kept ordering some pretty strange stuff.
So in case you want to see what we tried.....
Our favorite by far was the Sang Noir(far right), fruity, tart, with nice body, but missing that deep almost prune-vinegar sour richness of a Flemish Red. We were told that Cascade uses Lactobacillus which gives it a nice tartness, but not wild yeast which is crazy hard to control. The Missus was obviously missing Cantillon. Still that sang Noir was quite good.
The Missus did enjoy the Cheri D'Amour (left), while I was surprised that I enjoyed the Gingersnap (to the right).
All of this stuff has a pretty high ABV, so we pretty much stopped here. The Missus is still a bit of a lightweight. Still, this was fun and I'd gladly go again.
Cascade Brewing Barrel House 939 SE Belmont St Portland, OR 97214
Still, the Missus wanted one more Brewery stop. We'd been thinking of Upright, but they didn't open until 430pm. So we decided to head back (another half mile) to Hair of the Dog Brewery which was close to the Morrison Bridge which we had to cross anyway.
This nice little bar with the sliding industrial doors was doing pretty good business as well.
I loved the names of the beer. The Missus had two tasters; a "Little Dog" and "Greg", which She really enjoyed; made with winter squash and no hops tasting fairly grassy to me.
I had a "Fred", which I enjoyed, slightly sweet, perfect amount of hops, mild booziness. I would gladly have another.....
and since this was Hair of the Dog (which donates a percentage to Guide Dogs for the Blind), you know there had to be a dog, right? This faithful sweetheart was left on the porch faithfully waiting for her master. Whom she obviously adored. You can read her body language....
Oh, he's getting up and walking this way!
Yay, here he comes....we're going for a nice walk home! Maybe I'll get a treat!
Bummer....he was just going to the restroom.....
Hair of the Dog Brewery and Tasting Room 61 SE Yamhill St Portland, OR 97214
The one thing I wish I took a photo, actually a video of, was the young, thin, well dressed hipster, wearing a Viking helmet who was dancing while doing the edge of the curb "tightrope walk" on the Morrison Bridge. Great hand movement, decent pirouettes, and sadly, we were both too stunned, and entertained to think about taking a photo. Though I can't help but wonder what tune was playing in his head? "You stay weird Portland!"
We took the nice mile and half walk back to the hotel, for a well deserved nap. After all, we'd be walking back this way (sort of) for dinner!