Portland in August?
- equilibrist Jun 7, 2008 05:56 PM
I'm planning a trip from NYC to Portland, most likely in August and probably the week before Labor Day. I suspect the weather will be great then, but my question is whether there is any kind of tradition of restaurants closing during any part of August for vacation--as they sometimes do in Europe (and even certain restaurants with European owners in New York). Would it be a good time to visit the city? Thoughts? Suggestions for other times of year, or must-try dining experiences? I really haven't even started doing any research yet, but some of the restaurants I've heard have good word of mouth include
Lovely Hula Hands
and is Bread and Ink still a spot worth checking out? I remember eating there many years ago but don't know what it's like these days.
Those are all great choices...except Bread & Ink. Their best days were 20 years ago. I can't comprehend how they keep going.
Also consider Sel Gris, Wildwood, & Fife.
It's possible a small number of places will be closed, but the majority of what you mention will be open. Check their websites. It's a great time to visit! The Portland Farmers' Market will be at its peak. On the other hand, September weather is also outstanding, and you have better assurance that all places will be open.
Ditto--I had a bad experience with a scallop past its prime the last time I ate at Bread and Ink several years ago, and I haven't gone back.
Wasn't Sahagun closed for a large percentage of last August? That's about the only closure I can think of (and if they're open and you like chocolate, that's a great place to go--if not, go to Cacao).
Several years ago I looked at the rainfall statistics for the year. While September is drier than June, August is by far the driest month on average. It could rain then, of course, but it's less likely than other months. And summers here can be really nice--not too hot, and not humid.
It's true that last August Sahagun was closed the entire month. But other years it was somewhat less than that. I don't know the vacation schedule this year. To get your fix of handmade artisan single-origin truffles if they are closed, go to Alma.
Even though you are from NY, I"ll have the nerve to suggest you check out the pizza at Ken's Artisan.
As I'm getting closer to my trip, I'd like to re-solicit you Portland hounds' expert advice. After doing more research, I've decided that I definitely want to check out Le Pigeon and add Beast to the list--the chef's menu sounds amazing. Anyone want to weigh in on this?
Then, I was thinking I'd choose one of either Higgins, Paley's Place, or Wildwood, which all seem to offer quintessentially northwest cuisine. What are people's preferences?
I thought I'd definitely try to check out both Pok Pok and Lovely Hula Hands for less expensive meals--can't break the bank on every meal.
Clyde Common is definitely in the cards, at least for the bar menu, maybe more.
I definitely want to have some good Pac Northwest Oysters and it looks like Alberta Oyster Bar is the best choice for this (the rest of the menu sounds appealing as well). I realize that lots of places offer oysters as an app, but Alberta seems to have the biggest selection of oysters. Is there anyplace else for oysters I should know about?
Toro Bravo--I love tapas, but I can't seem to find a menu at their site. Is this someplace I shouldn't miss?
Finally, as it turns out, I will be traveling solo. Are these places a single diner will feel comfortable? Or, rather, will I get any resistance to making reservation for one at any of them? I'm fine with eating at the bar (in fact I like it) as long as I'm not crowded and jostled by others angling for a seat. I'm assuming that at a restaurant like Beast with a communal table, they won't mind seating a solo?
Thanks again for your thoughts.
Though not from Portland, I have been there quite a bit the last two years and had some excellent meals. Just two weeks ago I had some of the best yet.
Toro Bravo is a definite must. You will have to wait in line, but it is worth it. Wonderful food.
It is tough for me to choose between Paley's and WIldwood. I have eaten at both three times and loved them both every time. Two weeks ago, both meals were top notch. (The salads at Wildwood were mindblowing.) Personally, I'd go for those two rather than something like Le Pigeon. But that is just me.
Finally, we had another incredible meal at Fratelli. It was at the end of a trip all around Oregon and we just wanted some italian. Wow. This place was terrific; it beautifully combines Italian with some pacific northwest sensibility. The Lasagna was maybe the best I have ever had.
Finally, I personally have eaten at all but Toro Bravo solo. There is a chef's bar at Toro Bravo where you could dine solo, but it is probably the least 'solo' friendly. All the others were lovely when I dined alone.
re: Tom P
Toro Bravo is a great place to dine solo. You will have to wait for a bar seat but usually not very long and they have a small waiting area where you can grab a drink in the meantime.
I actually enjoy dining solo so I can sit at the bar and watch it all go down in the kitchen. As I no longer work in the restaurant business, I usually go to restaurants where you can sit and watch the kitchen execute the meals. I find it fascinating.
Other great places to dine solo are: Higgins, Clyde Common, Ten-01, Fratelli, Southpark. And although they all do not necessarily have open kitchens, they have nice bar areas to dine in. Just to name a few but there are many more.
June Menu for Toro Bravo: http://www.pfmenus.com/?p=70
In my book it is a MUST.
For solo dining at the bar, I'd be happy at Le Pigeon, Higgins (they have a more casual pub portion), Wildwood, PokPok, and ToroBravo. You may want to make a LePigeon reservation.
Lovely Hula Hands - perhaps not so much solo (but a great place for dinner).
The other places you mentioned I can't speak to.
Just had dinner at Wildwood on Saturday the 16th. Very nice restaurant with good local ingredients, and a great place for either solo or group dining. It has about a 10 seat bar (there are also tables in the bar) that was completely empty at 7:30 on a Sat. night. I booked reservations the day before, and this is another plus.
Great list! Sort of.
The follow up comments are spot on.
Another place to consider is Carlyle. It has to be one of the best places that just hums along consistently putting out remarkable food with graceful service. Also great for solo dining.
I rank it far and above Higgins, Paley's, and Park Kitchen. These places are good mind you but I feel as though they went pop when their only peers were places like The Olive Garden.
At the very least, better to go with some of the other suggestions like Ten01, ABSOBG, Wildwood, Sel Gris, or Toro Bravo.
Also something to think about since you were interested in the Bread and Ink is Simpatica, wonderful.
Have a great trip.
Every place you mentioned is worth trying, but here is my two cents.
I just ate at Wildwood last week and it was top-to-bottom an excellent meal. I mean excellent. I was really impressed. Not to say it will do that for everyone, but they are on their game right now as far as I am concerned.
Le Pigeon, Toro Bravo and Beast are musts. You just have to eat there. They are amazing. Those chefs have serious talent and care about what they put on your plate. I will also say that Fife does some real simple, wonderful food.
And lastly, if you can find the time or way to fit it in, go eat brunch at the Country Cat. Get the fried chicken and a basket of cinnamon rolls. Just do it. That chicken is sublime. Everyone says: "It's too far out there!", but really it isn't that hard to find.
Country Cat is too far out there from where? If you're downtown, four miles or so straight up burnside to 82nd hang a right, up to stark and hang another right. I agree, it is easy enough to find. And there is no place I've found so far in Portland where I'm uncomfortable dining alone. Hope you enjoy your stay.
i'd have to echo the Ten01 suggestions. If you are wanting a great burger, check out Life of Riley's (tavern).
feel like supporting soon-to-be chefs? check out the 4 course dinner at OCI - for 14 bucks, it's a great deal, and the food is great!