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Thanks and a trip report

j
Jase Sep 1, 2011 10:13 PM

I'm going to break the days up into different replies to make for easier reading.

Previously solicited feedback from this thread which also contained link to my previous trip report. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8005...
Thanks for all who chimed in on that.

Wednesday
Loved the Max, airport to downtown PSU area was a breeze. Was checked and settled into my hotel by 3. Davis Street Tavern was a good stop after the initial walk through downtown and stopping at the visitor center to pick up materials. I had the duck wings, chicken liver mousse and half dozen primitivo oysters. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality and quantity of food given the prices. Oysters were light and slightly briny, good refresher after a long trip. The mousse was rich but not heavy, I liked the bread. The wings although meaty and substantial disappointed me a bit. I love duck and but it didn't have an overly ducky taste. The coating was fried crisply well but the bottom sitting in the chile oil had gotten soggy quickly and ruined the wonderful texture on half of it. I did like the oil with the wing meat.

After relaxing a bit and perusing my maps, I packed up and decided to make my trek to Laurelhurst Market down Burnside. Despite the unfortunate timing of being in town on one of the hottest days of the year, I enjoyed my walk. The sights along the bridge and through the neighborhood was very entertaining and I worked up quite an appetite by the end of my trek.

I decided to start off with four appetizers and go from there. I chose the sweetbreads, marrow bones, tartare and the small charcuterie plate. I loved the duck and mortadella the best out of the charcuterie. The duck tasted meaty and had the essence of duck. The mortadella so was creamy, so unlike the flabby mass produced ones. Marrow bones were good but not great. Liked the sweetbreads a lot, crisp on the outside but still creamy on the inside and I liked the beans and broth that came with it, well balanced with the sweetbreads. I wasn't as enamored with the tartare. I liked the richness and beefiness of the meat. But as a tartare, it didn't quite work for me. It needed more pop from some of the other ingredients and I missed the contrasting saltiness of some capers.

Service was very attentive throughout, people were very nice. The appetizers were delivered in pairs, after the second pair was dropped off I asked my waitress to check back with me when I was halfway through to see if I would want to order the steak of the day. She was very prompt but unobtrusive. I did try the bavette cut with the frites. I normally get my steak rare but server recommended medium due to the cut. I was happy with it, still juicy and tender while also loving the sauce. The fries were wonderful, very well executed. I really enjoyed mopping up the sauce with the fries. As much as I liked them, they gave such a huge portion I couldn't finish the fries.

Well sated, the great serving staff offered to call a cab for me. I had decided that a long day of travel and all that food meant not enough energy to walk back to the PSU area. All in all a great start to my trip.

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Laurelhurst Market
3155 East Burnside Street, Portland, OR 97232

Davis Street Tavern
500 NW Davis Street, Portland, OR 97209

  1. j
    Jase Sep 1, 2011 10:21 PM

    Saturday
    We spent most of the morning snacking at the farmer's market. It was all very good and I didn't do a very good job with notes or photos to jog my memory. We didn't get there early enough to beat the line at Pine Street. Neither of us felt like standing in that long slow moving line so we reluctantly passed. The other disappointment was not being able to get any cooked foods at Tails and Trotters. I was under the impression they would have something but no go. If I had known this, I would have gotten the pork chop at Laurelhurst instead of the bavette cut. That way I could have tried a T&T product. Oh well. Does anyone know the name of the pizza place that heats up from the stove on a trailer? We liked that and thought the veggie slice we split was tasty.

    After cruising through galleries and comic book shops, we headed over to Pok Pok. I had high anticipation for this place. I love Thai food. I'm not a snob by any means but have been spoiled a bit by numerous trips every year to Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas and having Thai Town living in Los Angeles.

    We got there early enough for the wait to be only 30 mins with first available. We walked around the food pod across the street but didn't see anything that grabbed our attention for a appetizer to split.

    A quick wait and we got seated in the back near the bar and bathrooms. My dining companion and I don't care for cilantro and unfortunately that restricted the menu a touch. I had studied the menu online but also mentioned to the server and asked to be warned if I chose something that had it. The server was great and very helpful. I knew the game hen was up but she said the boar collar which I really wanted wasn't going to work either. We ended up ordering the wings (of course), papaya salad, pork belly stew, green chile dip with the sausage and the broken crepe with mussels.

    The wings deserved their reputation, good thing we ordered a lot and this dish was so generous, otherwise my buddy and I would have had to fight over it or order another plate. The depth of flavor and interplay of different spicing was wonderful. Other favorite was the pork belly. With some sticky rice, the rich sauce and a bit of meat was a great combinaton. We ordered another sticky rice just so we could wipe the bowl clean with it. Also loved the sausage, the grind was a bit coarser than other Thai sausages I liked, but this was good. Loved the juiciness and flavor. The chili dip was very good but didn't blow me away. The Thai Nakorn version in California is still my fave.

    Although we liked the papaya salad and mussel crepe, they wouldn't be repeat orders. The salad seemed about average for top quality Thai. Maybe it was my high expectations for this place. But both dishes seemed like something I could easily get elsewhere, unlike the other three. The mussel dish might have been tinged a bit by my expectation of it being closer to a mussel omelet served at other Thai places. I love the interplay of rice flour, egg and the mussel meat then having the bean sprouts contrasting. But this dish felt like just some scrambled eggs with mussels. Good but not great.

    We wiped everything clean and was pretty full. But couldn't resist the affogato. So glad we could squeeze this in by splitting it. Loved the coffee, the condensed milk ice cream and how it all came together. The bill was inexpensive to me given the quality, quantity and service. Pok Pok was as good as I hoped.

    Sunday
    Escape day. We slept in and just hit Pearl Bakery for road breakfast. Got some croissants and coffee. Loved the rich buttery flakiness of the croissant.

    Overall a very fun great trip getting to see some great sights and not having a single misstep in any of the meals. Thanks to everyone who helped out. Hope to visit the city soon again. I've been raving about it to my wife, the food, the friendliness of the people, the beauty of the city and the many other attractions. Great city for my tastes. Only wish I would have been able to hit some of the other places that made my list.

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

    Pearl Bakery
    102 NW 9th Ave, Portland, OR 97209

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jase
      l
      Leonardo Sep 2, 2011 07:16 PM

      Thanks for the report!

    2. j
      Jase Sep 1, 2011 10:20 PM

      Friday
      My friend was delayed coming down from Seattle. I slept in and was kind of hungry upon waking up. I wandered around town and ended up at Hog Time just when they were opening up. Got the pulled pork gyro. I liked the pita and homemade yogurt sauce and the gyro as a whole. But it's nothing I'd go out of my way, just a solid choice if you're in the neighborhood.

      My friend showed up and we stopped at The Frying Scotsman on the walk to Powell's. We got the cod and haddock and split it. The only other time I've had haddock in fish and chips was in London and it was much more distinctive than this one. I didn't find much of a taste difference between the two. The coating was done well, liked that. Also liked the homemade tartar sauce. But didn't care for the homemade cole slaw, it was just a gloppy mayo mess. The chips were just average.

      After spending the day at Powell's and walking back to the hotel, we had worked up an appetite and ready for Toro Bravo, easy drive to find it and we got there just when it started getting busy. Pleasant half hour wait with cocktails outside set the tone. We ordered two french kisses, bacon wrapped dates, grilled octopus, duck liver mousse, string beans, stewed spanish peppers with a sunny side up egg, pork rillette, stuffed squash blossoms and drunken pork on avocado salad.

      We liked the french kisses so much we ordered another pair for dessert. We liked almost everything with the highlight being the pork rillette. Loved the warm presentation, the pork flavor and richness came through cleanly without being heavy. The drunken pork was the only dish that didn't excite us. The pork was juicy but there wasn't anything special about the taste and the avocado salad just seemed like a separate component and didn't add anything to the overall dish.

      The ambiance and setting of Toro Bravo was appealing, service was good. But we did have some quibbles about the place. I found the hostess set up at the entrance very annoying and once it got busy, it was ridiculous how it force people to be jammed up against the back of the hostess. Also for as nice of a place as it was, I thought it should have been automatic to have our plates changed out after a few courses instead of having to ask for new ones. I also thought it was kind of silly for most of the plates to come with these humongous knives for serving. There's not much room on the tables and it also would have been easier to serve with a smaller knife.

      But these are just quibbles and we enjoyed our meal tremendously and liked the space a lot. A great way to catch up with my friend and to end my second full day.

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

      1. j
        Jase Sep 1, 2011 10:18 PM

        Thursday
        I had booked the 10 a.m. Best of Portland walking tour so just stopped by the Java man on 6th on the way to the Hilton hotel meeting spot. The mocha and blueberry scone was just okay. But all I wanted was some sustenance for the tour. After the (landlocked) three hour tour, I had worked up an appetite and swung by the People's Pig cart for the porchetta sandwich. Loved this! Meat was porky and juicy with a generous amount stuffed into good bread. The arugula paired well to cut some of the richness. The juices were running down my arm. Sufficiently refueled, I set off to walk to the OMSI. Beautiful scenery for the walk from downtown.

        After a fun afternoon at Omsi, I headed over to Olympic Provisions to catch the tail end of their happy hour. Special thanks here to Chalmers for pointing out the Eastside location and making me realize it worked well with my walking plans. As soon as I walked in and saw the big red neon Meat sign, I broke out in a smile and happily settled into a bar seat. I ordered the chef's choice of 3 item charcuterie plate and the pork rillette hand pie to start. I was a little disappointed no one warned me that the plate would come with the rillette and duplicated with the hand pie. Still I enjoyed all items and the flakiness of the pie crust. While nibbling on these items, I also decided to order 5 different items with their per ounce servings. I really liked how they priced these, getting an ounce of whatever you wanted for only $3-4 was very reasonable in my opinion and the flexibility is great for creating an individual tasting. I enjoyed everything, liked the distinctiveness of the individual meats, guanciale and pork liver mousse were my faves but I'm really splitting hairs. I slowly enjoyed everything with the generous amount of bread that came with the meats.

        Tastebuds and stomach happy, I slowly worked my way through the industrial area up to Burnside and walked into Le Pigeon. I managed to snag a seat at the bar pretty easily. It probably was the least desirable seat at the end of the bar next to the register and phone, but I really didn't care. Although I wasn't feeling full even after Olympic Provisions, I wasn't exactly hungry either. I wanted to make sure I had room enough to enjoy the foie gras profiteroles. I had been dreaming about those since I last had them two years ago. Therefore I stuck with getting the grilled quail appetizer before the foie. Loved the quail, juicy the meat contrasting well with the tripe richness and sweetness of peppers.

        No need to describe the foie profiteroles since it's been well discussed. But suffice to say that it didn't disappoint even after all this time. I wasn't stuffed after that dish and tempted to order something else but decided that I still had several days of eating, pushing myself on my first full day wasn't the smartest thing to do. I packed up and took a long leisurely walk back to the PSU area enjoying the evening along the bridge and downtown. Although I did wish for an ice cream place on my walk back.

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

        The People's Pig
        SW Alder St SW 9th Ave, Portland, OR 97205

        Olympic Provisions
        107 SE Washington St, Portland, OR 97214

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