Portland, OR (reply to Jim Dixon)
- Gary Cheong
Jim Dixon said (in another thread):
"If you're ever headed to Portland (Oregon, not
Maine), drop me a note. We don't like to spread it
around, but Portland is chowhound paradise"
Yes, Portland is quite a chowhound's paradise. I
visited Portland last June and had a ball.
Unfortunately, it was only for 3 days.
Managed to catch up at lunch with Philippe Boulot of
the Heathman (know him from his New York days at
the Mark Hotel). Mark Gould of Red Star Tavern really
surprised me with his rendition of American cooking.
Also enjoyed the mussels at Wildwood. Other places I
ate at were Paley's Place, Tina's (in Dundee, out in
wine country),and Third St. Grill (in McMinnville).
Had some sausages at Good Dog/Bad Dog. The only bad
spot I hit was BIMA (terrible food, super trendy).
I will have to come back for Couvron, Cafe des Amis,
Higgins, Atwater's, Zefiro and Pazzo.
What's your opinion on Caprial's Bistro ? I've been a
fan of Caprial Pence since her days at Fullers in
Seattle. She's not in the kitchen nowadays. I had
a good meal there, but wished she was cranking it out
for me in the kitchen.
As for not wanting to spread this around, I think
you're too late. Portland's been getting quite a lot
of attention in the food press. Come mid-April, you
will be inundated with hundreds of food-crazy people
-- Portland is the host city for this year's IACP
(International Assoc. of Culinary Professionals)
Conference. Good luck trying to get restaurant
Whenever you're ready to share, I hope you'll post
Portland's "secret" restaurants here for your fellow
One more thing -- I would be remiss if I don't mention
how close the Willamette wine country is to Portland.
Lynn Penner-Ash (one of the very few women winemakers
in Oregon) gave me a wonderful tour of Rex Hill. I
also had the pleasure of meeting the great David Lett
of Eyrie Vineyards. A very exceptional pinot noir I
drank on that trip was from Witness Tree.
Anyone care to start a thread on Oregon Pinot Noirs ?
Yeah, I know we can't keep
Portland a secret forever. There
have been a few changes since
Gary's visit. Mark Gould has
moved on, I think I read to join the
Heathman staff (but I may be
thinking about David Machado,
formerly at Pazzo..speaking of
which, there are lots of better
Italian restaurants...see below).
Bima can be spotty..too bad you hit
it on a bad day. Around the corne
we now have Oba (strange trend in
names)...very nice design and
pretty good nuevo wavo latino-
influenced food (not authentic, but
Definitely hit Higgins. Greg
Higgins is one of the best in town
and is a strong supporter of
sustainabble agriculture and
harvest...he only serves line-
caught salmon, for example, and
has a stable of growers and
collectors for produce,
mushrooms, mussels, etc (I get
hungry just writing about it).
I'd skip Atwater's...a bit overhyped
for my taste, and probably the
only restaurant in this jeans-
anywhere town that has a dress
Add to your list:
Esparza's Tex-Mex Cafe...Joe is
from Big D and could be the best
Texican cook north of the Pecos.
Smoked salmon enchiladas, Chile
colorado tongue, smoked ostrich,
and really good Margaritas.
Genoa: Northern Italian prix fixe
7-course dinner (4-course
available, but no respectable
chowhound would want that).
Marcella Hazen was in town awhile
back and declared her dinner here
was one of 'the 5 good meals" she'd
had in the US.
Bastas: trattoria more like Tuscan
than any others
Paparrazi pastaficio: ditto, w/all
fresh pasta, including pasta di
Saigon Kitchen: my theory is that
the best Vietnamese place is the
one nearest to your house..it
works here in Porland, and this is
my neighborhood spot...great Thai
menu as well
Fong Chong: best dim sum between
LA and Vancouver BC
On top of all this we have great
produce, meat, and seafood in the
markets (for imports, I do get
regular resupply from my Italian
in-laws in New Jersey..check out
Carretto's market in Patterson
You can read some of my opinions
at www.divein.com, US West's
local guides to their service area
cities. Follow links to Portland,
then click on dining. I've been
writing about food here in
Portland for about 15 years, and
I'm definitely a chowhound.
Drop me a line if you come for the
IACP conference. I can steer you to
a few places they might not know
PS: Caprial's a one-woman
industry, but she still answers the
phone at the Bistro...haven't eaten
there for awhile, but have always
I also plugged in the link to divein
re: Jim Dixon
Jim -- you are thinking of David Machado of Pazzo. I
knew he left, but not sure where to. Doesn't surprise
me when you mentioned Heathman 'cos Philippe always
thought highly of David.
Do you know Janie Hibler ? If you do, and if you see
her, send her my best. Now all this discussion about
Portland is jogging more of my memory. I had the BEST
strawberries in my life at Janie's house. We all
dropped in for strawberry shortcake one morning. They
were so red, juicy and intense. I have sworn off all
other strawberries until I can go back for more of
that Oregon kind. *** Other readers note : once you
try these strawberries, nothing else compares !! ***
Thanks for all the other restaurant tips. Not sure if
I'm attending IACP (probably not), but hope to get
back to Portland again soon. You betcha I'll give you
a call then.
re: Gary Cheong
Those were probably Marshall
strawberries, altho' there are
several other local varietals that
you can only find for a brief
period in late spring and early
summer...most of the growers
have sadly switched to berries that
hold up to mechanical harvest and
cold storage...I like cane berries
myself, and I have a row of ever-
bearing raspberries in my yard
that I can graze on from May to
October...they can't compare to
fresh, but look for Oregon brand
canned berries and other fruitfro
re: Jim Dixon
I second or third Jim's great suggestion in Higgins (Portland). We were delighted to be seated in one of the upstairs tables which the management thinks they have to apologize for. If you can stand coming away with little bit of a restaurant aroma in your clothing, sitting here, you can get a terrific view of everything going on in the kitchen. (And also be out of the clubbier atmosphere of the down-below.) Our waiter seemed especially well informed and we got the lowdown on most everything passing before us. Fascinating too to see their alambic still for distilling essence of herbs used to drizzle dishes at the last stage. We were particularly happy with the salmon crouton salad and the portugeuse fisherman's stew.
just returned from a weekend in portland. had dinner
at a very nice seafood restaurant--WINTERBORNE (3520 NE
42nd @ Freemont [(503)249-8486]). the grilled tuna and
the mussels were excellent appetizers. for entrees we
had halibut in bernaise sauce, assorted seafood in puff
pastry, and prawns in a spicy east-indian sauce. the
bread was not great. emphasis on wines from chile &
from oregon. friendly, european service (the waiter
was french, salad served after entree to clear palate).
not pretentious. entrees in $19 range.
oh how i miss eating in pdx!
two of my faves (that i haven't noticed mentioned), are Miso Hapi on NW 23rd (north end) which serves the best calamari i've ever had (and that's a lot!). Also, Chameleon (just off Sandy near 39th) is a very good, not too expensive place, with wonderful NW style inventions. For breakfast we can't leave out Zell's on Morrison east side(fave is smoked salmon eggs benedict) and Cadillac Cafe Broadway east side(with the absolute best french toast).