Is this Chowhound heaven - well, it's Portland (quick review)
I want to thank the Portland hounds who made recommendations for my visit. I had a great time.
Portland is a great city, very “green’ and it prides itself on the number of independent retailers and restaurants, many of which are trying hard to use local produce.
I’m maybe not the world’s most critical or discerning writer but here are a few places I tried......
I had a number of meals (2 dinners 1 lunch) at Wildwood eating in the bar and enjoyed it very much - dishes tried included the Burger on a Brioche bun, Clay oven baked chicken and the Crab and potato cakes. I’ve noticed that there are hazelnuts with everything in Portland and another item I enjoyed at Wildwood was their Hazelnut and Huckleberry turnover with marscapone ice cream.
I also had a couple of meals in the bar at Higgins. I tried the Manilla clams in a thai curry sauce (very tasty but a little overpowering) and the Jalapeno jam basted pork loin - again - a little too heavily spiced for my liking although the pork was very tender,. I particularly enjoyed the buttermilk panna cotta with strawberries and a balsamic / caramel sauce. If anyone has a recipe for their chilli and honey hazelnuts , please join me on the home cooking board.....
I think the best experience I had in Portland (which ranks with the best I’ve had anywhere actually) was at Paley’s Place. I had the smoked duck breat with farro and rapini followed by a warm chocolate souffle with honey ice cream. The service was impeccable and the food was perfect. Although dining alone, I did not feel at all out of place and was made very welcome by the owner. The kitchen sent out a complimentary starter (salmon mousse) and the owner brought over a complimentary sweet red desert wine. Even though the exchange rate is massively in our (UK) favour right now - I felt that most places I tried represented exceptional value for money.
I had a simple, but perfectly pleasant meal of chicken with roasted potatoes and rocket (arugular) at a place on NW21st called Caffe Mingo - described as “simple Italiian cuisine” - the place seemed to fill up pretty quickly and the service was very friendly.
I tried a few places for breakfast including Kornblatts, Nob Hill Bar and Grill and the Doug Fir (where I also caught a band playing one evening). All were acceptable without being exceptional in any way - the Doug Fir is a really interesting building looking like a 50’s log cabin, and also hyper trendy was also a friendly place.
I went to Stumptown - the coffee and biscotti were excellent and trhe cool vibe that seems to emanate around Portland seemed to have it’s epicentre there. It’s a friendly atmosphere though and not a snobbish one and generally throughout my visit I found people were genuinely interested in what they were eating with few, if any, signs of food snobbery. Apart from a couple of meals with friends I was dining alone and early and had no problems getting tables without waiting. I can't think that I came across any examples of poor service anywhere and was generally impressed by the food knowledge of the wait staff I encountered...
I also tried Ken’s Artisan Bakery where I had a Valrhona Pain au Chocolat and an excellent Latte. I tried to get to Sahagun but didn’t reallise that it is only open Wed thru Sat and I’d left it too late - next time I’ll get there.
I managed to get to a few other areas to visit friends, including Belmont and Clinton Street (where I had a reasonable burger and fries at a place called “Dots” - sadly not smoke free like most of Portland) but I tended to mainly explore the Nob Hill , Pearl and Downtown districts which were all easy walking distance from where I stayed.
I looked around a few food markets and stores including Zupans. The quality of produce on sale is unparralleled. I would love to live somewhere where I had that choice - you are very very lucky Portland Chowhounds and I realise that I only scratched the surface - there seems to be so much more. I can’t wait to return.
And I haven’t even mentioned the excellent music scene, the bookshops, the surroundings (and I feel like I want to keep it a secret in many ways..........)
Keep Portland Weird!!!
Thanks for the report. Yes, Portland has always been a secret place, but that is starting to change, I fear. Glad you noticed the hazelnuts...actually, Oregon is the leading US producer. If you were impressed by Zupan's, you'll be blown away by New Seasons, especially by their commitment to local. Don't miss the main farmers' market downtown on Saturday AM.
Try exploring more of the eastside, especially 28th between Glisan & Stark (Ken's Artisan Pizza yes the same Ken as the bakery, Tabla, & Staccato Gelato to name but a few), NE Alberta, & SE Division.
Sahagun now has a chocolate soda. I tried it today for the first time & it's incredible. But they are closed all of August, so don't miss out!