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Weekend trip report: Del Inti, Screen Door, Hayden's, Simpatico

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Last month my husband & I spent a weekend visiting friends who recently moved from the SF Bay Area to Lake Oswego. Neither my husband nor I have been to Portland for years, and I was quite surprised at how large the city was, and the general quality of food -- quite a change from my impression of it's being a boring dumpy city 14 years ago!

After being picked up at the airport, we had Friday dinner at DEL INTI in Portland where we tried about 2/3 of their menu with sharing. Very solid, with our favorite dish being the ceviche traditonal.

For drinks we went to DEPARTURE at the top of the Nines Hotel, a very slick bar which would be at home in a more cosmopolitan city (not to say Portland isn't cosmopolitan, but it seems more down-to-earth and casual than most cities its size). The outdoor sky terrace had a lovely view of the downtown, and the cocktails were decent (though not as good as drinks at the Screen Door or VQ), though the service was super slow.

Saturday we had a delicious brunch at HAYDEN'S GRILL in Tualatin. I really enjoyed my salmon hash and my friend's corned beef hash -- the grated potatoes were beautifully crispy & added great texture to the dish.

Then we went wine tasting in the WILLIAMETTE VALLEY, hitting up Argyle (nice bubbly & dessert wine, but a little expensive), Seufert (well priced pinots), Stoller (good pinot but wished they poured a wider variety; pretty winery), Archery Summit (really beautiful setting but overly pricey wine; only place we didn't buy any bottles), and Erath (lots of choices so easy to find something to like).

For dinner we canceled our Le Pigeon reservations and instead went to the Southern comfort food SCREEN DOOR knowing quite well we would likely wait an hour, and sure enough that was the case. However the amazing fried chicken made the wait worthwhile, and the collard greens and sweet tea were outstanding as well. The other dishes we tried -- fried green tomatoes, bean cassoulet, ribeye steak, pecan trout, pecan pie -- were fine to ho-hum. My spice-loving husband's favorite find was the restaurant's house-made habanero sauce, which lent a flavorful kick to the meal.

We finished off the evening at VQ, the bar at Veritable Quandary, where I had a delicious Bloody Mary made with beet juice. I have to give a shout out to Portland for its well crafted and very well-priced drinks, most of which were in the $8 range -- quite a refreshing change from $12-16 range in San Francisco, Vegas, etc! My husband's Old Fashioned was only $5.75 at VQ -- can't remember when we've had a cocktail with such positive return on investment!

Brunch on Sunday was supposed to be at Tasty N Sons, but with the two hour wait and our friends' two young (1.5 and 3 years) kids in tow, we decided to change to SIMPACTICO DINING HALL instead where we could secure reservations. Like Screen Door it's a casual, somewhat loud room where diners can peer into the open kitchen. The fried chicken was definitely not as good as Screen Door's, and I felt the biscuit in the biscuits & gravy was overthought. It was a satisfactory meal but nothing special.

For dinner we decided to stay close to our friends' house and had take-out from the BLAST BURGER in Lake Oswego. Their Blast Burger with fried jalapenos, roasted anaheims, pickled serranos, pepper jack cheese, and chipotle aioli was delicious paired with a Kobe beef burger -- something worth going back for! The Handsome Devil burger with bacon had tasty bacon, but was otherwise a pale shadow of deliciousness compared to the Blast Burger, and the Kobe beef here seemed to lack beefiness with the plainess of the other ingredients. The chocolate malt was a little lacking on the chocolate intensity.

Overall we had a very enjoyable trip and look forward to visiting Portand again!

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Le Pigeon
738 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214

Veritable Quandary
1220 SW 1st Ave, Portland, OR 97204

Del Inti Restaurant
2315 NE Alberta St, Portland, OR 97211

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