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Portland, OR (reply to Jim Dixon)

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  • Gary Cheong Feb 18, 1998 02:33 PM
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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
reservations !!

Whenever you're ready to share, I hope you'll post
Portland's "secret" restaurants here for your fellow
chowhounds.

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 ?

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  1. 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
    good).

    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
    code.

    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
    farro

    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
    some time).

    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
    about.

    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
    enjoyed it.

    I also plugged in the link to divein

    5 Replies
    1. re: Jim Dixon

      Oops. Here's the Divein URL:

      http://www2.divein.com/
      cpartners/personality/
      dixon_j10_library.html

      1. re: Jim Dioxn

        just returned from portland. had a memorable indian
        meal @the bombay cricket club where olive oil is used
        instead of ghee. great samosas.

      2. 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.

        1. 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
          a hint.

        2. 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.

        3. 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.

          1. 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).