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Trip Report from (another) SF hound - Thanks Portland!

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Thanks to all the Hounds for helping out greyelf and pats38sox for their recent trips because it enabled me to benefit from all the advice for this past long weekend. Some friends were planning on being in town for the Rock n Roll ½ Marathon so I joined them to eat, drink and play.

We didn’t get to nearly enough of my 4 page to-do list, but what we did get to made me very happy.

Dinner’s included Ned Ludd, Nostrana and Clyde Common. Of the three the cocktails won at Nostrana and desserts (and that truffled popcorn) won at Clyde Common. We all wanted to love Ned Ludd but it ended up being our least favorite (sort of odd service, drinks good but not memorable, undercooked salmon, underwhelming pickle plate).

Dessert at Ned Ludd didn’t appeal so we headed to Salt & Straw and waited in line on Friday night and it was well worth it for the Banana with Spicy Monkey caramel and walnuts. Had a 2nd flavor as well but can’t read my writing after a couple of cocktails with dinner (maybe the sea salt caramel?). Loved the taste I had of the Honey Balsamic Strawberry with cracked pepper.

Hit the PSU Farmer’s Market early Saturday and made a beeline as soon as we could to the Pine Street Biscuit booth for breakfast. Enjoyed an egg, bacon and cheese biscuit. Would have loved to order more (and in hindsight should have) like the pimento cheese and yes, the fried chicken.

The market definitely made me wish I had a kitchen but I was restrained on shopping and only ended up with a curry salami from Chop, truffled salt from one of the mushroom vendors, and a few mini cookies from Two Tarts. Friends ended up with Anthem cider and garlic cheese curds. Which we all proceeded to carry around all afternoon, including our quick stop at Powell’s.

Saturday lunch we ended up at Deschutes Brewery. Since we had a dog with us we needed outdoor seating in the Pearl and it was a perfectly fine, if not exciting lunch with a Twilight Summer Ale (and the dog had a lovely nap under the picnic bench) while we enjoyed the warm afternoon.

Saturday dinner was Nostrana and a lovely experience overall. We were able to take our time with the menu and order rounds of foods. Never felt rushed. Great cocktails, including a couple of spring ones with rhubarb. Everyone was a member of the clean-plate club at this dinner. I especially loved the Primavera pizza with asparagus and the Insalata Nostrana. One caramel-y butterscotch dessert was shared by the table while I enjoyed a glass of icy cold Nocino.

Sunday was coffee and donuts day – started with Stumptown on our way to Voodoo, my cap was made with care but the espresso was a bit too bitter for my tastes. Voodoo was something we could say we did, but at the end of it not really worth the wait in the “partly cloudy” rain. It hadn’t really been on my real donut list until I started seeing people with their pink boxes but now I can say I’ve tried a Dirty Snowball (devils food, marshmallow frosting, coconut and a dollop of peanut butter). Maybe without the pressure of the huge line behind us we could have spent more time choosing what looked good.

Was hoping to get to Coco Donuts but didn’t make it this trip. My favorite cappuccino of the trip was at Spella Cafe on Monday morning. Smooth and flavorful and a very happy way to end the trip.

The teahouse at the Lan Su Chinese Garden was a lovely spot for a spot of tea and vegetarian dumplings while catching up with a friend. Made even better because we had a member’s pass as it doesn’t look like you can go to the teahouse without paying entry fee for the garden.

That was followed by a stop at the hotel for dry clothes since I made the mistake of taking off my rain coat before heading out for a walk that morning and then a quick post-marathon lunch at Newport’s on the water near River Place and Tom McCall park – good halibut sandwich and some local Pinot Gris during a rain shower. Not a destination place but near our hotel so it worked.

Our final dinner was the favorite – Clyde Common. We didn’t have reservations so went on the early side and were able to get a table upstairs (for 3) right away. Started with truffled popcorn – sort of wish I’d gotten an order to go for late night snacking. My Bourbon Renewal (bourbon, lemon, cassis, bitters) was a bit too lemony masking the bourbon too much for my taste, but they definitely have an intriguing cocktails list. Was feeling a bit full so only had the smoked fish appetizer and John’s Vegetables which turned out to be a raw plate of veg with a dipping sauce, but it really hit the spot and left more room for dessert. A lamb (three ways) with farro and goat cheese was also a big hit and required a request for bread (foccaccia-like) to wipe the plate clean of the sauce.

I don't have a huge sweet tooth but Clyde Common’s dessert menu was the first one of the weekend where I would have happily ordered all of the desserts (and that made me look up the pastry chef’s bio). We had a peanut butter chocolate tart, strawberry panna cotta and lemon pudding cake – we each took a bite of all the desserts and grabbed our own orders back and inhaled them. Great finish to the weekend’s eating.

Monday breakfast was at Bijou Café, which was the only spot we hit that I wouldn’t go back to. Menu sounded good, but the execution was off as orders didn’t come out very (thermally) hot, everything was a bit under-salted and the hash with harissa had no (pepper) heat at all.

Since I didn’t get to nearly enough on my list – only one beer! Only one donut! No wine! No Pok Pok! No food carts! – there will need to be another trip in the near future for sure.

Enjoy your eating in Portland!

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  1. Thanks for the report..It always makes me happy to read them! When you come back, the Sugar Cube should be open...

    1. Thanks for reporting!

      Teahouse at Lan Su is Tao of Tea. Yes you must pay garden admission in order to eat there. Their main teahouse and shop is on SE Belmont.

      Sorry to hear your chose touristy over quality when going for donuts. Another tourist bites the dust. I try warning 'em to no avail...

      2 Replies
      1. re: Leonardo

        Glad you had a good time, Celery, and were able to get some tips from "my" thread. We're just back this evening and my notepad and camera are still smoking from all the great food we experienced -- long writeup to come!

        Leonardo, there is something about Voodoo Donuts that draws us tourists in. I had no intention of going as I hate lineups, but we found ourselves at Voodoo 2 with free parking, no lineup and a yen for a sweet so... we both tried filled ones and they were lovely and fresh. No weird fillings for us though, we are too boring I guess. The sour cream cake donut I had from Tonalli's at Ristretto on N. Failing today was better though, as was the blueberry one I had there last trip.

        1. re: Leonardo

          Voodoo wasn't truly on my list, but the opportunity presented itself. And now next visit when I get donuts I can say with confidence how it compares to Voodoo. Sometimes it's fun to play tourist and Stumptown and Voodoo was it for me this trip.

        2. Shame you didn't have a good experience at Bijou. It's one of my favorite brunch spots on Portland. Simple, fresh, everything made from scratch with care (exception being bread, I believe), heavy emphasis on quality ingredients and letting each shine. They have a way with the eggs in their omelets--super fluffly and beautifully cooked. That said, I've never had any of their hashes or lunch items. Usually don't make it past the eggs or brioche french toast.

          Leonardo-where would you suggest for Donuts? I've only had Voodoo once, and only because it was right there while waiting to be seating at a nearby restaurant. They were good enough, but I thought the lines were mostly for the kitschiness and novelty, no?

          1 Reply
          1. re: crsin

            Voodoo: yes I guess that's the reason they go, suppose you're right. That's why I always ask people "Do you want interesting donuts or good ones?"
            For good donuts: Coco at two downtown locations. Get the "Coco". Sorry to some if I sound like a broken record on this. Others on this board also have their favorites that don't include VD.