First two days of trip - great, good and average
So having arrived in Portland from a much nicer than expected train journey, thought Seattle to Portland would be prettier, we embarked on a day of eating and drinking. Having found accommodation and refreshed we headed out to pok pok for lunch, only a ten minute stroll. Having been defied drinks due to forgetting passport we decided to go for the vinegar drinks, a good choice, to make up for it. The tamarind suitably sour, the pineapple possibly the winner. The papaya salad was fresh with a nice bit of heat, would have personally preferred a bit more zing from the lime and chilli but nice enough, the peanut a good hit of salt and fat, but more coriander would also be welcome. The pork loin skewer were tasty and moist, the addition of the fat at the end of the skewer a welcome addition, the nut sauce good and the dipping sauce also.
A long stroll up to laurelhurst for dinner was well rewarded with excellent bread with ricotta, rich and lemony at same time, and a very pleasant charcuterie plate. Mains of bavette and frites was excellently prepared, the meat well rested giving good depth of flavour and succulence, shame we couldnt get the full grass fed that was at the butchers as think that would have been another class.
Day two offered more opportunity for a full day of eating and drinking. After a walk in along Hawthorne we went to Nongs khao man gai for the chicken and rice, we opted for livers and skin as additional. After a short wait and a long walk to find seating we stuck in, the walk was detrimental to the skin, soggy and disappointing, but the rest was moist, flavourful and satisfying. A stroll to barista was in order for the distinct coffee hit I have been missing, they managed to hit on one level but fail on many others. The espresso was good, a Guatemalan, short, thick, slightly salty and very tasty, but the rest was a total fail, service very poor and the knowledge of service staff lacking I think they were training but still, the barista herself very good though.
After a trip to powells we went to kenny and zukes to see what they had to offer, again disappointing, the pastrami was very good, but the service was distinctly average and our choice of bagel not a good one, like fake smoked salmon and cream cheese, no natural flavour at all, poor!
Before our trip to willamette we wanted to try some Oregon Pinot, be educated slightly if possible, so went to Oregon wines on broadway, well, yet again the service failed miserably and the interaction was very poor. The wine, from the premium flight was good and a nice introduction to the region, but the room lacked any intermacy and the person serving seemingly had no interest in us or the wine.
More coffee was required after the drinking, courier was on hand, the space was the nicest I have been to thus far in the north west, finally an intimate space, unfortunately for me the espresso failed, not an african single origin fan in that format, pulled well, but bitterness ensued, still well worth a trip.
Clyde common was next in line, really liked the space, bartender good for the majority of the time. All the drinks were good, particularly the bourbon renewal, like cold Shiraz, all oak and berries and the pre bottled Americano, all Campari and orange zest, tasty.
Wanting for more cocktails we went to teardrop, this delivered the hit of Portland so far, the wing and a prayer cocktail; not on happy hour. Pueblo Viejo reposado tequila, tamarind nectar, lemon, TDL blood orange Amer Picon, maple syrup, chilli threads, amazing! More than highly recommended, sour, sweet, depth of flavour, great.
After wine and cocktails i needed beer, we ventured to baileys to see what they had on offer, again am surprised by the space, too big a room for me but the beer good, so I guess that is what is important, mostly. The tasting paddle was good with a mix of ipa, through porter and sours, nothing stood out, possibly a fatigued palate, but was tasty enough.
Needing something to soak up the day we headed to por que no on hawthorne for a Mexican nibble or two. Following a queue and a try of horchata, first time and never again for me, like chalk in water, we sat down to tamales, quesadilla and taco. The food was nice enough, but for me lacked any depth of flavour and needed additional spice and acid; lime and cilantro was deeply needed, this seems to be my preference and maybe not how many Mexicans eat their food, my knowledge of this type of cooking is minimal.
All in all a good start to Portland, really enjoyed the day exploring, but I must say the service so far has been distinctly lacking, the food fresh but lacking any real depth of flavour, I hope the time in and around hawthorne tomorrow delivers more.
Sounds like you missed the best stuff at Courier, which are their baked goods, particularly the cannele. I enjoyed the cold brewed Colombian I had there but the SO had similar qualms to yours about the espresso.
Ristretto (several locations, Coffeehouse Northwest (serves Sterling), Sterling (I think they moved) and especially Coava all worth checking out for coffee if you find yourself near any of them, best of what we tried on our first two recentish trips to Portland.
Sorry to hear about the service issues. Can ruin even a good meal for sure!