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96 hours in Portland: quick itinerary review

  • Windy Aug 27, 2011 01:26 PM
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I was in town last summer from San Francisco and managed to pack in a lot of great eats: Pok Pok, Tanuki, PSU farmer's market, Kenny and Zuke's, Cacao, Pambiche. This year, I'm bringing a friend, and we have 4 days.
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/722068

Current list:
St Jack, Toro Bravo, Alder Pastry, Little Bird, Tabor, Nong's, maybe Clyde Common + PSU, Pok Pok or Whiskey Lounge, a cart pod or two, and a pastrami sandwich for the flight home.

Beast is closed that week. And the menu for Le Pigeon didn't do much for me.

Curious about Bent Brick, Otto, and Natural Selection.

Anything we should swap out or not miss?

We're staying downtown, game to walk or hop on MAX. Trying to eat healthy, so 4 days of charcuterie and donuts is out. Not looking for beer or pizza.

Pinot in the City is on. Anyone been to recommend one way or the other? My companion loves wine but doesn't drink much; how's the food?

Would like to find a cafe for people watching with great coffee or tea. Is there a juice bar or good spot for protein shakes open early downtown?

Also where can I buy foietella? Ideally somewhere we can taste it too. Was thinking Steve's Cheese (corrected: Cheese Bar) or Laurelhurst Market.

Thanks for all and any ideas.

-----
Clyde Common
1014 SW Stark St, Portland, OR 97205

Pok Pok
3226 SE Division St, Portland, OR

Le Pigeon
738 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214

Laurelhurst Market
3155 East Burnside Street, Portland, OR 97232

Pambiche
2811 NE Glisan St, Portland, OR 97232

Toro Bravo
120 NE Russell St Ste A, Portland, OR 97212

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  1. Steve's Cheese is closed. His new place is Cheese Bar, SE 62nd & Belmont. On the way there is a good cart pod, 42nd & Belmont. Get something at the Sugar Cube.

    This is the first annual Pinot in the City. Food is a good but not top-of-the-line list of wine country restos. It is more of a wine than food event.

    Your list looks great!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Leonardo

      Thanks Leonardo, this is fun research.

      Cheese Bar + the Sugar Cube seems like a good combination. Especially if we walk to Mt Tabor.

      1. re: Windy

        http://www.cheese-bar.com/Cheese%20Ba...
        New menu. 61st not 62nd. Steve won an international cheesemonger contest a couple months ago.
        About 3.5 miles from downtown, gentle slope especially by SF standards!

        Other east side high recs would be Navarre and Noble Rot.

        1. re: Leonardo

          Hadn't heard of Navarre, but the pictures on their blog look great. It's more fun to drink wine with small plates anyway. Thanks!

          And yes, we need some exercise to work off all the calories, preferably with good scenery.

    2. Windy, you and I keep going to the same places around the same time(will be there mid Sep)!! First NY, now Portland, what is up with this?? :P

      The foie gras profiteroles don't interest you at Le Pigeon? I admit, that's pretty much the only reason I want to go there. Otherwise, your list is really similar to mine...

      -----
      Le Pigeon
      738 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214

      8 Replies
      1. re: baloney

        Great minds eat alike.

        I can only do one foie gras dessert per trip. Hence the foietella.

        If you have time, come meet up with us at Alder Pastry or for a food cart crawl. The more the merrier. We're in town September 8-12.

        1. re: Windy

          Damn! Foiled again! I'm meeting up with some friends the next weekend, 16th-18th. I'll have to find an opportunity to eat up with you sometime in SF.

          Here's to hoping the kouign amann(an obsession of mine) is better at Alder than at Bouchon Bakery, which I had today in Beverly Hills and was meh. The croissant and pain au chocolat were even worse.

          1. re: baloney

            That's too bad about Bouchon in Beverly Hills, but not a big surprise. Hit me up next time you're in the Bay Area.

            BTW Did you manage to get to Guluoglu (the place with 20 kinds of baklava) in NYC? My friends bailed after Momofuku Milk Bar the last night, so I didn't get to try it.

            1. re: Windy

              I did not, that sounds wicked cool though I'm not sure how many types I'd be able to power through even with my sweet tooth!

            2. re: baloney

              The kouign aman at Alder St will not disappoint. But as long as you're in that part of town, I'd recommend drinking your coffee at Crema rather than Alder St, and walking over to Alma Chocolates while you're at it.

              I love Le Pigeon, but now that Little Bird is on the scene, Le Pigeon has lost some of its appeal. You certainly don't need to go to both, so stick with Little Bird and don't let the Le Pigeonites talk you out of it.

              -----
              Le Pigeon
              738 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214

              Alma Chocolate
              140 NE 28th Ave, Portland, OR 97232

              1. re: joshua

                Cool, thanks Joshua. I'm glad our hotel has a gym.

                Does Alma still go to the Saturday PSU market? Was planning on chocolate buying there, but we can detour to the store if that's a better selection.

                1. re: joshua

                  If you're in that part of town, I would have to disagree and recommend coffee at Heart, which is just across the road from Alder. It's one of the best small batch roasters in the city, whereas Crema is bakery that does OK Stumptown coffee.

                  -----
                  Stumptown
                  4525 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97206

                  1. re: chalmers

                    Agreed about Heart. Also Oblique on SE Stark near 30th...great coffee there.

          2. Coffee for ppl watching: Stumptown in the Ace Hotel by Clyde Common

            Juice bar: Prasad in the Yoga Pearl studio is a vegan place that does juices and smoothies open in the AM. I mostly grab lunch there.

            Met friends for a really great happy hour at metrovino in the pearl district awhile back. impressed with the food though a friend told me the menu hasn't changed - not an issue for the visitor even though it might bore a regular

            -----
            Clyde Common
            1014 SW Stark St, Portland, OR 97205

            Stumptown
            4525 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97206

            3 Replies
            1. re: MyNextMeal

              I had heard the Metrovino happy hour was good; thanks for the reminder.

              Will send my companion off to Prasad after his early morning workout.

              BTW What do you recommend for lunch at Prasad? Suspect we'll need some veggies in between all this rich food.

              1. re: Windy

                @ Prasad my faves are the Bliss Salad and the Love Pasta (with an extra add-on of an additional scoop of cashew ricotta). My GF also loves the Feisty Tostada.

                1. re: JillO

                  That sounds really good.

            2. I think your list is pretty solid. I don't know if I'd do St Jack AND Little Bird - they're both French, but St Jack is markedly better. I think LB is nice but a little dull, though I think I'm in the minority on that here.

              I would skip Bent Brick - I like it but it's not a "don't miss" and whilst the food is very good, not that exciting. I would go to the chef's other restaurant, Park Kitchen, which is more creative, smaller, and quieter. I haven't tried Otto, but I would go to Natural Selection if you can fit it in - it's different and delicious.

              Good downtown people watching cafes: Stumptown Ace (as already mentioned), Public Domain and Cloud Seven in the Pearl (sit outside in Jamison park)

              -----
              Park Kitchen
              422 NW 8th Ave, Portland, OR 97209

              Stumptown
              4525 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97206

              5 Replies
              1. re: chalmers

                Excellent, thanks. Hadn't heard of several of those cafes. You're right about my weakness for bistro menus.

                St. Jack is our Saturday reservation, so that's solid. Little Bird is the first night, and could be swapped for something else downtown/in the Pearl, or turned into snacks. Can we go to Park Kitchen or Metrovino without reservations and sit at the bar?

                Last summer, I heard rumors that Stumptown was past its prime and skipped it. No idea if they've recovered from expanding out of state.

                Which reminds me: it sounds like quality at Clyde Common hasn't suffered since its owners opened the Beagle in NYC. I almost went to the Beagle a few months ago but decided we should have the real thing instead.

                -----
                Clyde Common
                1014 SW Stark St, Portland, OR 97205

                Park Kitchen
                422 NW 8th Ave, Portland, OR 97209

                Stumptown
                4525 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97206

                1. re: Windy

                  Wellll, it's probably true that Stumptown isn't AS good as when it was smaller and had fewer stores and baristas, but I think that happened well before they moved out of state, and it is still one of the better specialty roasters in Portland and still a darn sight better than 99% of coffee in this country. When people say it isn't as good as it used to be, they mean it has gone from being the absolute best roaster in Portland to one of the best. The Annex, which holds free public cuppings every day and has really friendly, educated staff who will talk to you for hours about coffee is still one of the coolest things in Portland's coffee scene. The Stumptown at the Ace is also just an excellent spot for people watching, because you can sit in the lobby and watch all the people come and go.

                  One of the co-owners of Clyde Common, Matthew Piacentini, owns the Beagle. The other, Nate Tilden, is also an owner of Olympic Provisions and Spirit of 77. There's no reason those things should affect the quality of Clyde. Restauranteurs often have stakes in several different properties. There's a difference between a restauranteur buying into totally different projects and someone trying to replicate their small business, staff quality and product -- especially when that product comes from a single commodity that if sometimes not available in scalable quantities -- in more and more venues.

                  If you're just looking for straight up the best coffee roasters with cafes in Portland without regard for people watching: Coava, Courier, Water Ave, Heart, Public Domain, Sterling. If you include non-roasters, add Barista, which actually uses Stumptown as well as a few others.

                  I've never had trouble getting a seat at the bar at either Metrovino or Park Kitchen. On most nights, you can get tables there with no reservations.

                  1. re: chalmers

                    Perfect, thanks.

                    I do think there are often quality issues with owning multiple restaurants, especially when it's the chef who's famous. And having competing locations far apart often spells trouble in where your focus is. Glad to hear that's not been the case.

                    1. re: Windy

                      Metrovino or Clyde Common for downtown are solid choices. St. Jack is, indeed awesome, good choice.

                      The newly opened Wafu is also really good, but is in SE, on Division and 31st.

                      -----
                      Clyde Common
                      1014 SW Stark St, Portland, OR 97205

                      1. re: Windy

                        I agree as far as chefs are concerned, but one co-owner.... not so much.

                2. And we're home. The diet starts tomorrow.

                  Portland continues to impress. not just in quality and creativity, but also in attitude and price. Even our most elaborate meals were reasonable by San Francisco standards.

                  There were missteps, notably too much pork, bacon, salt, and charcuterie which left me craving salad, fruit, and water. But generally we had a spectacular time. And were very glad to have a gym at the hotel and another a few blocks away.

                  Highlights:
                  • Chicken liver mousse on rustic baguette and salad Lyonnaise at St Jack
                  • Lemon verbena soda, cauliflower crepe, and beet salad infused with hazelnuts at Little Bird
                  • Chicken rice at Nong's, especially the dipping sauce and plain soup
                  • Revival smoothie at Prasad
                  • Cappuccino at Heart (this was my pick for coffee, over Spella and by a nose, Crema pulling Stumptown)
                  • Berry tart at Alder Pastry; our mistake was getting too many similar items here. Lovely people.
                  • Gai yang with papaya salad and sticky rice at Pok Pok; spicy wings with tamarind whiskey sour at Whiskey Soda Lounge
                  • Biscuit with gravy and fried chicken from Pine State Biscuits at PSU market
                  • Blueberries at PSU market. We bought cheese, hazelnuts, peaches, and more. But the blueberries were the highlight, and half what they cost down south.
                  • Oxtail croquettes, artichoke bruschetta, and bacon stuffed dates at Toro Bravo
                  • Lamb and greek salad at Ayblas; fruit smoothies from Joe's pizzeria; and a bacon blue cheese burger and truffle fries from Rollin' Etta.

                  We also picked up chocolates from Alma and Moonstruck, and a few Xocolatl de David bars at Cacao.

                  Once again, I was thwarted in my quest for a schnitzelwich. Last year I came on the weekend when Tabor was closed. This week they were on vacation until tomorrow. Maybe next year. Sugar Cube was closed. I couldn't face another charcuterie plate and so postponed Navarre.

                  Departures, the rooftop bar at the Nines, was, as promised, atrocious. What a scene! We didn't bother ordering anything. We opted for Oregon Wines on Broadway over Pinot in the City, which I gather suffered from the extreme heat.

                  Minor complaints:
                  Loved the ambiance and menu at Little Bird, but the food was a bit one-dimensional. A peach tarte tatin was sickly sweet.
                  An otherwise perfect meal at St Jack was marred by a trout entree so salty it was inedible.

                  Tip: if you're heading to SE without a car, pick up a TriMet day pass. $5 from any machine, easier than $2.10 at a time cash only and dealing with transfers.

                  Thanks for all the great tips.

                  -----
                  Pok Pok
                  3226 SE Division St, Portland, OR

                  Pine State Biscuits
                  3640 SE Belmont St, Portland, OR 97214

                  Toro Bravo
                  120 NE Russell St Ste A, Portland, OR 97212

                  Whiskey Soda Lounge
                  3131 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97202

                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
                  12 Replies
                  1. re: Windy

                    Wow, well done, Windy! If you don't mind me interrogating you for a bit:

                    - Did you get the kouign amann from Alder? If so, how was it?
                    - As a whole, would you say St. Jack is worth going to for dinner if I've only got two dinners?
                    - Have you tried Pine State Biscuits at their brick and mortar before? I'm trying to decide if it's worth going there as opposed to trying the FM wares.
                    - Strawberries still available/good at the FM? It is duly noted to bring back blueberries if possible in my bag...

                    -----
                    Pine State Biscuits
                    3640 SE Belmont St, Portland, OR 97214

                    1. re: baloney

                      We did have a kouign amann at Alder (and a croissant, cinnamon roll, cannele, quick bread, and berry tart). I'd never had one before. It was buttery, and the shell shattered. Not my style of pastry, but seemed well done.

                      St Jack is lovely, but maybe have drinks and snacks. The other entrees going by looked great--but so did our trout. They are open all day, I believe, including for happy hour.

                      This was my first Pine State experience. The restaurant has a bigger menu, but they do a good job at the PSU market, so not sure I'd trek over there unless you were already in the area.

                      Yes, strawberries were very sweet. Chandlers I think. But need to be eaten same day. They really suffered a day later in the hotel fridge. Blueberries held up better. There were huckleberries too, and lovely peaches. And a lot of great looking purple and green beans and artichokes that I wished the restaurants we visited were serving. We picked plump raspberries at my friend's house.

                      1. re: Windy

                        Sounds like a kouign amann I'd like! I miss the ones from France terribly.

                        Thanks for the rest of the advice, I'll have to look at St. Jack's HH menu, maybe just try those madeleines from the bakery.

                        1. re: baloney

                          Have a great time. If you're on a pastry crawl, the goodies at Crema (3 blocks from Alder, 4 from Heart, 2 from Alma) looked amazing. We'd already cleaned out Alder so only had room for a slice of berry pie.

                          Little T American baker is not too far from Clinton/St. Jack.

                          BTW there's a kouign amann in the photo above.

                          1. re: Windy

                            Ooh, thanks for the additional info! I think it might end up being somewhat of a sweets/carts crawl! I was hoping to hit Crema since you gave high marks for their cap, having a good pastry selection certainly doesn't hurt. I noticed that picture, the kouign does look pretty good....

                            1. re: baloney

                              Crema has both Stumptown and Spella beans. Not sure what they're using for what, but it's a sunny spot (more laptops than at other cafes) and they sell the Sunday NYTimes.

                          2. re: baloney

                            Okay, take 2 on the kouign amann. Today I had my second ever, from Starter Bakery in the Bay Area. Now that was a pastry worth the calories! (Next time you're in SF....)

                            The one at Alder is a layered croissant with a glaze by comparison. Still a lovely bakery and cafe, and a worthy stop between Heart, Crema, Alma, and Laurelhurst Market.

                            1. re: Windy

                              Starter is on the list for my next SF visit! Do you know if they make it every day or if it's a special? I heard Patisserie Phillippe makes K.A.'s by special order, though I don't know how good they are. I'm sorta happy that more places are making it, but also kinda sad that more people know about it...does that make me a bad person? Still haven't found something to rival French versions, probably the superior butter over there.

                              1. re: baloney

                                Starter sells only at farmers' markets and now at a few cafes. They don't have a retail bakery. http://starterbakery.com/ I only first heard about them on Chowhound a few weeks ago.

                                Patisserie Phillippe has lots of other wonderful things.

                                1. re: Windy

                                  Hey Windy - I saw the wine tasting pic, and am curious as to where that is? I definitely want to get to a good wine bar, or anywhere that offers flights/tastings.

                                  1. re: greenidentity

                                    Oregon Wines on Broadway. A lovely place to taste. Two of us shared two flights (one regular, one premium), and had enough Oregon pinot to keep us happy for a while.

                            2. re: baloney

                              If you're ever in SF / Bay Area, this is the one to get -- it's amazing.
                              http://www.7x7.com/eat-drink/croissan...

                              (Oops -- I hadn't read all the way through the thread and I see it came up -- and apparently no way to delete a post.)

                              Anyway, if you ever tried one down here (since this thread was happening), would love to know what you thought.