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Portland for the third time in a year -- lucky Van, BC CH returning in October with lots of eating targets

grayelf Sep 16, 2012 02:49 PM

Greetings, Portland Hounds! You've been so helpful in the recent past I'm hoping to trespass on your good will once more. We'll be in town Oct 3 to 9, staying at the Park Lane Suites again (good deal!). We are driving down from BC so will have wheels. In case you want to see what we tried in our previous two trips, here are the links to my long writeups: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/838708 March 2012 report and http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/852925 for May

I'm most interested in making choices for our six evenings in order to reserve where possible as I'm not much for lining up. The Sunday dinner will be for 6 people (two non-gluten types) and Laurelhurst Market is the front runner right now for that one.

For some reason, I'm finding dinner options more difficult than other meals so appreciate any guidance you may wish to offer. Need help in narrowing down all the great options!

So far OX seems to be the top new place that appeals, but resos for parties of 6 plus only at 5, 6 or 8pm and later.

Also interested in Luc Lac (we don't have any cocktail forward, "modern" Viet restos at home; Podnah's (brunch also) and Toro Bravo are in the running for evening, non-reso places.

Artigiano for an early pasta dinner is a strong cart contender.

Wed night only: risotto at Bar Mingo (apparently they make it to order from scratch
)Maybe Higgins' back bar for soup one night?

Pata Negra (we have very little in the way of Spanish tapas)

St Jack's (butter lettuce salad, steak tartare -- can you just order hors d'oeuvres here and make a dinner?)

Laurelhurst Market (menu just looks tasty, albeit beefy, and they had various padron pepper preps at the moment; also love that they list their bacon cheeseburger under Salads, woot!)

Cafe Allora for gnocchi, straight up pasta or maybe Accanto for gnocchi

Lucky Strike -- worth a bash for Sichuan or no? The SO might like the soy and Guinness braised ribs...

Tabla for the prix fixe dinner

brunch: Tasty'n'Sons, Country Cat, Navarre (Sat/Sun only), Podnah's and Grain and Gristle (gross name but scrapple and beignets, mmm) short listed for a brunch outing at some point, prolly a weekday to try to minimize lines. And looks like Otto is open 7 days starting early too...

lunch: Also looking for a really great burger that is not too fancy (Gruner's lunch offering is in the lead; we've been for dinner and loved the spaetzele especially). I like the sound of the burger at Jade Teahouse too. Also Las Primas for a butifarra sandwich as we have little Peruvian at home. Been hankering to try a "fancy" banh mi so may hit Double Dragon for their pork belly rendition (the sweet tea with lemongrass and Thai basil sounds good too). Xico's lunch window appeals (Sonoran hot dogs!). The recent addition of pre-dinner fare at Riffle might be an easier target than dinner too, no? Sok Sab Bai cart for their Cambodian sandwich. The puccia sandos at Oven and Shaker sound worthy, as do the non-alcoholic drinks. Rabbit and cornbread for lunch at Clyde Common? Yes please, La Estacion for the cochinita and other Yucatecan tasties, and Ocean City for dim sum (maybe coals to Newcastle but we haven't tried dimsum in Portland yet), People's Pig for porchetta sando

Evoe is a must, though prolly for lunch/afternoon snacks since they are only open till 7 W-Sun.

Other: Meat Cheese Bread for a breakfast burritto with hash browns INSIDE IT, Verde Cocina at PSU farmers market if we can't make it out to their bricks and mortar place, baopdx at 9th and Alder pod for a pork belly bao, tortillas and potosinas from Three Sisters, Roman Russian Market for cheburashka, An Xuyen for Viet/French pastries (check out the lotus paste pigs! http://www.anxuyenbakery.com/products...), DiPrima for zeppoli (if they have them), Cheese Bar (for a stinky and a blue board, natch), Coco for doughnuts, arancine for a daytime snack at Eastmoreland Market

I expect there will be a fair amount of coffee sampled, including the new Sterling, Maglia Rosa, Public Domain (as a Buffy fan, I feel it is my duty to check out the Slayer machine!), Case Study, Courier (revisit mainly for their baked goods) and Coava (revisit) and some beers sampled, including Bailey's (revisit for bats, maybe bring in a snack from Santeria) and Apex.

Whew, that's a lot of ground to cover in just six days! Thanks for reading this far and any comments or suggestions you have will be both appreciated and carefully considered.

Thanks, grayelf

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  1. s
    SCF RE: grayelf Sep 16, 2012 11:44 PM

    We just got back from PDX and can't wait to go back. Some excellent meals were had at:

    * Irving St. Kitchen: Especially the charcuterie plate, with its amazing little jar of (IIRC) duck foie gras topped with gelled duck fat.

    * Kin: Find of the trip. Chinese steamed buns with pork belly--think peking duck buns but with pork belly instead of duck. Oh so good, melt-in-the-mouth fat and pork. The duck and beef entrees hit just the right notes for Herself and me.

    Beast: We finally got to Beast for a brunch, and it's just as good as at dinner, just a little quicker and more casual. If you've never been, *no* substitutions except for a few things that can be removed easily, and it's prix fixe, so you have to be happy eating what's put in front of you. But well worth the trip out to Concordia for it.

    Genoa: amazing Classical Italian restaurant, with a truly knowledgeable and personable sommelier. Go here for that special night out. Mostly prix fixe, with choice of vegetarian or omnivore menus, and choice of secondi.

    Little Bird: Le Pigeon's downtown little sister. Great marrow bones, and really loved the pork chop we had there last time.

    Gruner: You know them, but I missed reading of the smashed fingerlings, the maultaschen, or the hazelnut-powdered donuts, which means you've missed three key items (or I missed it in reading your prior reports).

    Castagna: MG gone nuts, but really inventive. I'd go there if I'd already gone to Genoa.

    I'd recommend against the Heathman Restaurant. It gets raves at Yelp, but I can't imagine why; we found all courses very ordinary and of only average execution. Definitely missable.

    Also skippable is 3 Doors Down, an okay neighborhood Italian restaurant. If you're in the area and don't want to bother looking around, it's fine, but expect really old-school preparations and fairly bland dishes.

    You're already keyed into Laurelhurst, which was very good. Get some bacon and sausage for the next morning at the butcher counter before you go. Also leave time to look through Millennium Music across the street.

    Looking forward to another excellent trip report from you!

    19 Replies
    1. re: SCF
      grayelf RE: SCF Sep 18, 2012 04:51 PM

      Thanks for the tips, especially Kin and the maltauschen at Gruner, which were not on my radar. Pork belly! German ravioli! Also good to know about Millennium for the SO, who does not live by bread alone :-).

      Beast and Genoa haven't made the cut yet because of the limited choices (and the sheer volume of food!), which isn't to say they aren't great options, just not for us. Did you have a dekko at Accanto on the way in or out of Genoa? Seems like that might work better for us...

      Appreciate the kind words also. Will of course ramble on in a report post-trip.

      Ack, I just came across some more notes for beer places to hit up in Portland from flowbee, a fellow Van Hound: Upright Tasting Room (Fri-Sun only, ware banjo on Sun) and Breakside Brewery near Podnah's (dark stout brownies, anyone?), Amnesia Brewing for the Copacetic IPA which is reportedly dark, resinous and piney, Saraveza for yet more beer and possibly pasties for the road (so close to the I-5!), and Beer Mongers for some take-home brews. Oh and maybe kale for Japanese comfort food. Like I needed more options...

      1. re: grayelf
        grayelf RE: grayelf Sep 20, 2012 11:52 AM

        Figured out a plan of attack:

        breakfasts will be pastries and coffee at whichever is convenient to our day's plans, choosing from: Bunk for breaky sandos, Nuvrei (cinnamon danish, canelle, pretzel croissants, Courier for baked goods

        Maglia Rosa, Sterling, Coffeehouse NW, Spella, Case Study, Ristretto for coffee

        Saturday will be PSU Farmers Market (Verde Cocina, maybe Pine State) and Tuesday will be either Tasty'n'Sons or Country Cat for a hearty breakfast for the road

        Afternoon snacks will be at: baopdx or Kin (pork belly bao), La Estacion (cochinita), Eastmoreland Market for arancini, share a muffuletta or hoagie, People's Pig for porchetta (9-3), Tasty n Sons happy hour 2:30-5/Ristretto, Di Prima zeppoli, Coco Donuts, Cacao for hot choc

        Non-reservations dinners (will go to these on weeknights to try to minimize waits):

        Artigiano pasta cart

        Luc Lac

        Podnah's

        Bar Mingo

        Lucky Strike

        Reservations-made-already dinners:

        Pata Negra for tapas (and hopefully padrones!)

        Riffle NW for our celebratory dinner

        Laurelhurst Market or Ox for our group dinner

        after dinners: Bailey's, Upright Tasting Room, Apex, Breakside (by Podnah’s, dark stout brownies!), Amnesia (Copacetic), Saraveza or Grain and Gristle

        lunches: Las Primas Peruvian, Gruner (may reserve for this), Evoe (can't wait!), Tasty, Country Cat

        We're planning to grab some pastries on the way out of town at Saraveza for an afternoon snack on the road.

        Anything on here I should lose/swap out? Should we sub in Caffe Allora or Tabla for one of our dinners?

        1. re: grayelf
          l
          Leonardo RE: grayelf Sep 20, 2012 06:26 PM

          Saravesa is a great freeway-close idea, but they make pasties not pastries.
          I've been unimpressed by the food and service at Lucky Strike since their move.

          1. re: Leonardo
            grayelf RE: Leonardo Sep 21, 2012 09:45 AM

            Thanks Leonardo -- I do know they are pasties (love!) and savoury but obviously had pastries on the brain from earlier in my post.

            I heard from a local hound that Lucky Strike was not up to our hometown Sichuan options but he hadn't been in several years ie. prior to their local goods focus (which is what intrigued me, none of that here in such restos). Your comment has caused me to summarily dismiss Lucky Strike from my list :-).

            1. re: grayelf
              JillO RE: grayelf Sep 21, 2012 12:52 PM

              Our best Chinese food anywhere in the Portland metro and suburbs would pale in comparison to anything you might describe as merely "good" in Vancouver, BC; NYC; and San Francisco...sad but true.

              1. re: JillO
                grayelf RE: JillO Sep 22, 2012 08:16 AM

                We are indeed blessed, if you know where to go and what to order ;-). But the opposite is true for Van BC Mexican, which is why I will have to sub something out for Uno Mas -- either an afternoon snack or a lunch prolly. I've been eyeing this place's progress for a bit and I think it's a must try for us after seeing an opening menu this morning, though I'm not usually such an early adopter.

                1. re: grayelf
                  l
                  Leonardo RE: grayelf Sep 23, 2012 12:09 PM

                  Any visitor from Van/Bay Area/LA shouldn't bother with our Chinese. Really.
                  How about Mi Mero Mole?

                  1. re: Leonardo
                    grayelf RE: Leonardo Sep 24, 2012 03:02 PM

                    Message received! MMM is on the (long) list of Mexi-possibilities.

                    I now know where I'll be on Saturday at some point -- this one's gonna make the SO happy too as he enjoys the hoppy stuff:

                    Saturday, October 6, 2012 | 10am - 4pm
                    Event: The Wedge - Portland celebrates cheese! Over 40 Oregon artisan cheesemakers & food producers
                    Location: The Green Dragon
                    Address: 928 SE 9th Avenue, Portland, OR 97214
                    Cost: $5 donation requested to benefit the Oregon Cheese Guild non- profit
                    The Green Dragon pub & Buckman Botanical brewery will be hosting a beer garden pouring World Class beers to accompany World Class cheeses and other fine foods.

                    1. re: grayelf
                      l
                      Leonardo RE: grayelf Sep 24, 2012 06:36 PM

                      Cool event. 4th annual cheese fest. Not just Oregon, but also from CA, WA, and ID. I'll be there!

                      1. re: Leonardo
                        grayelf RE: Leonardo Sep 25, 2012 07:50 AM

                        Hmm, time to get out the CH decoder rings so we'll recognize each other :-). Thanks for elaborating that there will be cheeses from several states, makes it even more appealing, as we don't get much US regional fromage in our neck of the woods.

                        1. re: grayelf
                          grayelf RE: grayelf Sep 26, 2012 01:11 PM

                          Replying to myself as I have another question: any thoughts on Firehouse? I like the look of the menu.

                          1. re: grayelf
                            l
                            Leonardo RE: grayelf Sep 26, 2012 03:30 PM

                            Love Firehouse!

                            1. re: grayelf
                              JillO RE: grayelf Sep 26, 2012 05:02 PM

                              Great food! Usually need a reservation if you don't want to wait. I love the roast chicken there as well as pizzas, mussels, fish...and leave room for dessert, they have a great pastry chef. Might score a deal on some items 5-6pm for happy hour...

                              1. re: JillO
                                grayelf RE: JillO Sep 26, 2012 06:54 PM

                                The chicken sounds really good (and I don't usually go for chicken in restaurants), plus I'm still looking for a Neapolitan style pizza that floats my boat so could be a good place to try one. SO loves mussels. And I read somewhere that the pork shoulder is worthy http://www.firehousepdx.com/menus.html Okay Firehouse is on the itin! I emailed to inquire about happy hour as well, though without mixed drinks that is less appealing for me.

                                1. re: grayelf
                                  l
                                  Leonardo RE: grayelf Sep 26, 2012 09:56 PM

                                  Call aheard to DiPrima about the zeppoli. They usually don't have them.

                                  If you go to Case Study, they carry Stumptown coffee and pastries from Bakeshop next door. Or just go next door. Bakeshop is also available at Extracto and Ristretto.

                                  Sok Sab Bai is very near the can't-miss Sugar Cube cart. Have you been?

                                  1. re: Leonardo
                                    grayelf RE: Leonardo Sep 26, 2012 10:15 PM

                                    Good tip on the zeppoli, will do. Have had Bakeshop stuff somewhere -- thought it was at Coffeehouse NW but prolly got mixed up and it was Ristretto. Sugar Cube beckons for sure but we're a bit less about the sweet treats, notwithstanding the hunt for zeppoli.

                                  2. re: grayelf
                                    JillO RE: grayelf Sep 27, 2012 10:13 AM

                                    I also don't usually order chicken in restaurants. I make a mean roast chicken at home. But I do order it at Firehouse (and also at Nostrana, on occasion). I don't have a wood burning oven, and it does fabulous things to a roast chicken, it appears.

                                    While Firehouse isn't known for their cocktails, I have had one or two there over the years (they do have a full bar), and while they aren't memorable as awesome, they also aren't memorable as "OMG, I am NEVER ordering a cocktail here again" either. Their wine list usually has some nice and reasonable picks, so I just usually go there...but their cocktails are fine.

                                    BTW, Breakside Brewing is right near there too, so you can stop there first for a taster/aperitif - they have a brew called Aztec brewed with cocoa and chiles that is rich and delicious: http://www.breaksidebrews.com/

                                    I don't live all that close to Firehouse so I don't get there that often, but I do love the place.

                                    1. re: JillO
                                      grayelf RE: JillO Sep 27, 2012 12:59 PM

                                      Thanks for clarifying re the hard stuff at Firehouse -- only wines listed on the website that I could see. Good tip re Breakside as well. I haven't had time to map all our targets out so will have to wing it a bit re geography :-).

                                      1. re: grayelf
                                        grayelf RE: grayelf Sep 27, 2012 10:10 PM

                                        Me again. Can anyone recommend a solid espresso near the Sat PSU Farmers Market? The SO is willing to get up early and check it out if he can be appropriately caffeinated within an hour of arrival :-).

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