Breakfast and Steakhouse suggestions in Portland,Ore pls
Although El Gaucho in Seattle has received mixed reviews on this board, the one in downtown Portland is a worthy place to dine. It also is owned by Paul Mackay and is located at the base of The Benson Hotel in downtown Portland (on Broadway). It echoes much of what is good about El Gaucho in Seattle (plus it's not really a chain nor does it feel like one).
I was just in Portland two weeks ago and we also ate at a great family-owned Thai restaurant one block down from The Benson (not Typhoon, it was another restaurant). Also around the corner from the small Thai restaurant is the 24-hour Church of Elvis (always worth a good chuckle).
Not a steakhouse, but a worthy Portland eatery is Caprial's Bistro. Chef/owner Caprial Pence is host of her own cooking show on PBS and formerly was the chef at Fullers in Seattle (I believe she was the chef in charge prior to the Monique Barbeau era).
My favorite places for breakfast in Portland are J&M Cafe on the Eastside (the omelette with spinach and roasted garlic is phenomenal), and Zell's in SouthEast (at the corner of 13th and something), where you can get huge pots of loose-leaf brewed tea, and fresh-made scones come with every order. We always sit at the counter.
Also terrific with more of a diner feel to it is Stepping Stone in NorthWest. Their potatoes, french toast, and especially a dish called "The Dilemma" (potatoes covered with spinach and melted cheese) are all outstanding for basic breakfast fare. The guy who owns/runs the place has a dry sense of humor which snooty people take offense to (to his great delight), so don't give him any guff (as if you would *grin*).
Old Wives Tales on the Eastside (on Burnside, a block from Sandy) is also a great place for breakfast, where there are so many different types of options that it is great for large parties because there is something for everyone. It does get crowded (well, what place doesn't for breakfast?) and kind of noisy because it's a very kid-friendly spot. What I remember most are their dessert-y type things, such as parfaits with fruit, granola, and Créme Fraiche.
The Oregonian (our really bad daily paper) panned the Ringside a few weeks ago, and the love it-hate it debate has raged on the A&E letters page. I think there's a lot more interesting food here than steak (even Gourmet said in the recent restaurant issue that we're far ahead of most places, California included, in the local, seasonable, sustainable food movement), but the non-chain El Gaucho would be my recommendation if you really want a steakhouse.
I had one of the best red meat experiences recently at the hot new place, Bluehour (503-226-3394 or bluehourestaurant.com)...perfectly cooked NY strip w/bordeaux sauce and garnished with nuggets of marrow. Definitely worth checking out, but call early because the place has been packed every night.
Other restaurants worth considering:
Higgins...an early proponent of sustainable agriculture, Greg Higgins is also an amazing chef...the eclectic menu covers a lot of ground under the general label of NW Cuisine, but it's always fabulous.
Wildwood...another hot spot that emphasizes local products...chef/owner Cory Schreiber, part of a long family line of local oystermen, recently published a beautiful new cookbook, too.
Paley's...more classically French, but still a strong local connection
Genoa...called the best Italian restaurant in the entire country in the last issue of Food & Wine for serving uncompromisingly traditional Italian food...7-course fixed price dinner seems overwhelming, but after nearly 30 years they've got portion size and timing nailed..call early for reservations
for breakfast....Bijou downtown, Kornblatt's on NW 23rd, Milo's on NE Broadway
I have other reviews on my site....
re: Jim Dixon
Thanks for the head's up about Kornblatt's on NW 23rd. I had avoided it on previous visits because it looked too new, clean, and cheerful to be authentic. I ordered the whitefish chub, which I was expecting to be a big, oily hunk of filet that I haven't had since the old days in Chicago. I wasn't even sure I'd like it but I had to order it for reasons of nostalgia. What arrived was a small, perfect whole fish that someone in that establishment (bless them!) troubled to have flown in from NY. It was better than any whitefish I can remember, and I went easy with the red onion so I wouldn't stifle it. The waitress said that some people have a problem looking at the fish head -- not me, I like seeing the whole thing before I tuck in. Spouse had french toast (third day in a row!) and the pastrami version of bacon which I much preferred.
I always felt close to Manhattan when eating brunch in Chicago. Now, I can walk through a door in Portland and have some of the same feeling. The waitstaff has even mastered the northwest version of Deli comedy -- a little floorshow with your nosh.