Portland weekend menu
I'm new to chowhound but have done some serious browsing through this forum to compile my list of restaurants for my upcoming trip to Portland (Sat 5/9-Mon 5/11). This will be my FIRST food-oriented trip to Portland where I've done actual research ahead of time. I'll be going with my partner and staying at The Westin (booked through hotwire and now I'm finding that it's not too close to everything...). We'll have a car, though, and are open to public transportation if it's convenient.
I've checked out all these menus online when available and I'm really excited to try all these places, but please please suggest alternates if there are better options out there!
So far, here are my thoughts:
Dinner: Clyde Common
After dinner: Cool Moon? Or is there another must-try dessert/ice cream/gelato place?
Lunch: Asian Station (soup dumplings!!!)
Happy hour: ten-01
*** Dinner: Le Pigeon/Sel Gris/Beast *** Any suggestions for this dinner? Which place is lately (or consistently) the best 'bang for your buck'?
After dinner: Sahagun for hot chocolate
Breakfast: Kenny and Zuke's
***Lunch: Any suggestions? Considering Pambiche
Dinner: Toro Bravo
I also considered PokPok for dinner one of the nights, but I decided to leave it out for now because the other places sounded better to me this time around. Is PokPok REALLY a must-try spot? I do like Thai food but I think I'd rather try something else.
Sahagun is open 10 am - 6 pm Mon - Sat, so "after dinner" on Sunday won't work. But yes, it is a must-go for hot chocolate and hand made single origin truffles.
Yes Pok2 is a must-try. I doubt you have had this "Thai food". Unless you've been to northern Thailand.
My favorite for gelato would be Via Delizia or Staccato Gelato. The latter is very close to Pambiche, another great idea.
What do you mean by Westin? You mean the Benson? Is an easy walk to places such as K & Z, Ten01, Asian Station, and Sahagun.
Yikes, thanks for the tip about Sahagun! I will move that around. I also checked on HH at ten01 and looks like I'll move that to either Mon or Sat as well.
With all the rave reviews, I probably will attempt to head over to PokPok for at least one dish to share (so we can try another place as well!) . We are staying at the Westin Hotel at 750 SW Alder.
We ventured into EaT last month, partly because of the glowing reviews we read on portlandfood.org and partly because of the proximity of EaT to where we live. As I entered, I thought to myself, "I hope it's great; it's so close to home..." We were greeted by one of the owners, who was shucking oysters; he directed us to sit at any unoccupied table. Easier said than done as all the unoccupied tables were in some sort of disarray: dirty dishes and glasses from previous diners were prevalent; the cleared tables hadn't been wiped clean. No worries, though, we really wanted to sample the fare.
That they were short-handed was clear. One server on the floor, backed up by the owners- no biggie. However, when we gave a drink order to one person, repeated it to two others and were still cocktail-free after 15 minutes, I settled into whart I believed would be a long haul. When I asked the server how long the resaturant had been open, she replied, "Three months...I'm sorry if it shows." Not exactly a confident upbeat response. She then took our drink order (this would be the 4th time), and went behind the bar to make the drinks. I saw the glass of white wine and the bloody mary I had ordered on the bartop. She had put the Bloody in a fancy big mai tai glass, and then an owner intervened to remake it. It was delivered to me in a tiny juice glass. In my 3 plus decades of consuming alcohol, this was a first, and later when the bill came, I saw that I was charged $7.00 for the privilege. WTF!
We ordered oysters on the half shell, which were fresh and delicious; oysters rockefeller (the spinach too pureed for my taste, topped by a paltry amount of cheese). Two gumbos arrived, piping hot, but leaving a curious oily residue on our palates after the first bite. We continued to observe the operations, noting the server chewing her own lunch while she delivered plates to other guests and cleared spent dishes from others. We remarked on the hygiene of leaving opened packages of saltines as part of the table-top setting.
Bottom line: we spent $70.00 for an unappetizing experience, and in retrospect were simply happy that nothing made us sick. Compare that to our Happy Hour experience at Ten01 the previous day, where we spent 10 or 15 dollars more, had several cocktails, a bottle of wine, and several plates of amazingly good food.
I hope the guys at EaT get their shit together. It's a nice physical space, albeit somewhat dirty with a good amount of storage on the floor behind the bar and in the kitchen. Service issues abound, however. We're willing to give it another try, but I think we'll sit the next few months out.
Ambitious list for sure, but a delicious one as well. Definitely do CC for dinner. Pok Pok really is excellent and *not* your typical Thai food. If you're into pizza, Ken's Artisan is pretty hard to beat. It's "hyped," but in my opinion, really that good. You'll wait for a table there, though. Papa Hayden on NW 23rd has a pretty ridiculous dessert menu. (In a good way.)
calmossimo, that is a pretty good itinerary, albeit a generic one. No surprises there. But you have a car. That is an advantage. At some point on that journey, not for a dinner but for a breakfast or lunch, you really need to get to Gravy on N. Mississippi. Gravy IS Portland, as exemplary of local flavor as there is -- and the food is both good and plentiful. Think of Gravy as Byways (which we love and frequent) on steroids.
Between Gravy and Byways, Gravy would be my choice, both for food and ambience. Byways is excellent and close, but it has all the benefits and all of the detriments of its location in the Pearl. For one thing, you may see the same diners you have seen in your other stops, as Pearl habitués tend to run around in clubby groups. The menu is more extensive and varied at Gravy than at Byways.
Gravy is in a real neighborhood. Although Gravy is good enough to be a destination, and does attract people from all over the metro area and from outside of it, a substantial portion of its clientele can walk to Gravy from the place they sleep and maybe raise their kids. And it's a really neat neighborhood, too.
You are much more likely to be annoyed by a diner at the next table having a loud cell phone conversation at Byways than you are at Gravy; you are much more likely to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger on the sidewalk out front while waiting for a table at Gravy than you are at Byways.
We like Byways, but Gravy would be our choice if choosing only one.
I usually have a hard time picking Italian when I travel, feeling 'I can get that anywhere'. Only because I have been in and out of Portland over and over the last two years did I end up trying it. So if you go a second time... it's a must. So good. But I'd choose some of the others first, just for the regional cuisine, for sure.
We ended up shortening our menu quite a bit for a few reasons, but happily, still made it to some amazing places!
Saturday brunch at Gravy. We loved this place -- he ordered the fried egg sandwich with sweet peppers, homemade sausage, garlic, cheese. I had corned beef hash with a side of hash browns and eggs over medium. My corned beef hash was, IMO, monstrously huge portion! I couldn't even finish half of it, but I liked it a lot. His fried egg sandwich was even better! It tasted sort of like a 'breakfast' philly cheesesteak, with the peppers and onions and cheese.
Saturday dinner at Sel Gris. We had seats at the chef's counter and were able to enjoy watching the kitchen at work. We shared the ris de veau, veal sweetbreads with the quail egg enclosed in a little puffy pastry kind of thing. I had the beet salad (LOVE beet salads!) and he had lobster gnocchi. For entrees, I had duck magret and he had lamb two ways. My duck was good but not great, but we both looooved his lamb! (he had better luck ordering during the first two meals). I liked Sel Gris a lot for the quality and presentation of the food. It was fun to see everything done in the kitchen and it was a lot more crowded than I had expected (tables closer together, smaller space) but I liked the feel. Our entrees somehow ended up getting ordered late, so we waited quite a while in between our courses before they were served, but since we had awesome seats, neither of us really minded. We were too full for desserts and didn't even go out for ice cream afterwards... just went back to our hotel to digest and lounge for the night!
Sunday brunch at Simpatica. I loved the look and feel of the space here! We had good weather and so it was warm and well-lit. I had fried chicken and waffles with dried fruit syrup, while he ordered the meat platter with pork shoulder and brisket, mustard greens, and some beans and eggs. We ended up eating mostly off of each others' plates this time -- he loved the fried chicken and I loved the pork shoulder and mustard greens. We were also very glad that they were able to seat us even though we arrived pretty late and they were almost ready to stop seating people. We had great service here.
Sunday snack at Pix Patisserie. He ordered the Amelie, which is (from their website):
"Orange vanilla crème brûlée sits atop a glazed chocolate mousse with caramelized hazelnuts, praline crisp, and Cointreau génoise." He ate most of this dessert before I even got settled in my seat. I am a macaron fiend, so I ordered 'one of each' kinds of macarons they had on hand, which ended up being nine. Blueberry, margarita, tawny port, chocolate cinnamon, raspberry, kalamansi lime, passion fruit... and two others that I forgot. The tawny port was BY FAR my favorite... I should have ordered more of these! I wish they had the salted caramel and pistachio available, too.
Sunday dinner at Clyde Common. It was definitely loud and bustling when we came in around 9:30 on Sunday night. I ordered crisp beef tongue and he had pork rillettes for starters. He couldn't stop raving about his pulled pork rillettes but didn't like my order (but I did!). I had some sort of crispy pork with mushroom sauce and lemon rind. The lemon strips made the sauce and the pork really refreshing and they weren't bitter at all. I liked having that flavor in the dish. He had ravioli of sweetbreads, which he finished, but didn't love. He ended up eating a lot of my portion since I couldn't finish and he thought that my dish was the best of the whole weekend. We were stuffed but went ahead and ordered dessert -- pineapple upside down cake with vanilla panna cotta and pistachio meringue crumbles. AMAZING! We both looooved this dessert and I especially liked the panna cotta, which had a softer texture and not too gummy or firm.
Monday morning at the food carts. I ordered the soup dumplings from Asian Station and devoured them. They were deliciousssss but much smaller than I had thought they would be (other soup dumplings that I've had are usually larger). He had a lamb super gyro which we both liked, and we had Thai tea from one of the Vietnamese stands. I would definitely come back for those dumplings -- I actually probably enjoyed those dumplings more than my duck at Sel Gris (although eating on the street in the chilly wind doesn't compare to the chef's table at Sel Gris).
Monday afternoon at Sahagun and Papa Haydn. The hot chocolate at Sahagun was, as everyone has been saying, the best I've ever had. Incredibly rich and chocolatey. We bought some of the salted caramels to eat there (they were just ok) and the nut barks to go (haven't tried them). We were talking to the owner about our trip and she had us sample these new creations called Sun Drops -- dark chocolate surrounding sunflower nut butter with honey. These things are like heaven in your mouth! You pop it in and eat the whole thing at once, the way you do with the caramels, but I liked these a hundred times better. The sunflower flavor with the chocolate is unusual but works very well. After our samples, I had to buy a whole bunch of these to bring home for us and for our friends! We had panna cotta (again) at Papa Haydn and autumn meringue cake to go. The panna cotta was just ok -- it was huge, but the smaller portion at CC was much better. The autumn meringue cake is super chocolatey and it's too bad we were too full to eat it then, because I think the meringue would have been crunchier and added better textural contrast if we had eaten it before our trip back home.
Whew. That was the end of our weekend of gluttony. We had to get back to Seattle earlier than anticipated so we weren't able to do more on Monday, but I'm glad we got to sample some of Portland's finest! This was the first time I've used chowhound to scope out foodie places before visiting a place, but I'll definitely try to use it more often! Thanks, everyone, for the thoughtful responses, tips, and suggestions! We will be visiting Portland again and I'll try to make my way to all the places I missed this time around. I'm disappointed I didn't get to try ten-01 and pokpok but we didnt have room for happy hour every time we were near ten-01 (which was a lot of the time!), and he really didn't want Thai food when I wanted pokpok. Next time...
Thanks for the report. Hope you've recovered sufficiently to prepare for a return!
Yes I too like Sahagun's newest, the Sun Drops.
Surprised you weren't blown away by the caramels. I can't stand caramels but love theirs.
My favorite bark is the Oregon Bark.
Papa Haydn set the bar for great dessert, but that was 20 years ago. I don't see them as at all relevant or top of the line by today's PDX standards.
Sorry you missed Bunk, K & Z, Pok Pok & Ten01!
Seriously, Pok Pok I doubt fits his idea of "Thai food".