Van BC Hound planning return siege on Pdx in March
One month out from our fourth trip to Portland, it seems appropriate to post a query on Valentine's Day, given our burgeoning love for your city :-).
Combing through my 38-page list of Portland eateries netted way too many "short list" choices for our five dinners, five brunches/lunches and myriad snacks/coffees/beverages/happy hours (see LOOONNNGG list below). We'll be in town Thursday night to Tuesday noonish with a car, staying nearish downtown. We're line up averse, especially for dinners, so would prefer places that take reservations. We prefer to eat dinner around 7/7:30, primetime as you might say. I've starred our potential return engagements, but we want to try lots of new places too.
Note that some obvious places aren't listed as we've been already. These include Clyde Common, Tasty'n'Sons, Gruner, Le Pigeon, Teardrop Lounge, Deschutes, Metrovino, Ken's (pastry and 'za), Tabor, Lardo, Helser's, Wildwood, Aviary, Olympic Provisions, Nostrana, Cascade, Cafe Castagna, Saraveza, Luc Lac, Pata Negra, Racion (popup), Laurelhurst Market, Breakside, Firehouse, Country Cat, and a few I'm forgetting I bet.
All feedback and additional ideas welcomed! Can't wait for our visit...
5 dinners (Thu-Mon):
*Ned Ludd -- been for brunch, salads!
Podnah's -- Texas Cobb salad, brisket, burnt ends, also tempted by brunch on weekends
Ava Gene's -- pasta, veg dishes
Roe -- four course dinner, seafood
Smallwares -- mapo dofu, Cobb salad (seasonal re shisitos I think)
Simpatica -- Fri/Sat only
Lincoln -- new American, signature baked egg dish
Bar Mingo -- elusive risotto when it returns, otherwise pastas such as chitarra
Broder -- abelskivers which are apparently also available at dinner
Riffle NW -- seafood/fish
St Jack -- French, but also for pastries in the daytime
Apizza Scholls -- now that they take reservations
Luce -- not sanguine though re lineups
Navarre -- modern Mediterranean
El Inka -- worth the drive to Gresham? Or Las Primas in town?
Beast -- are they in the new digs yet?
DOC -- Italian, tasting menu
Dove Vivi -- another kind of pizza
Ox -- early and on a weekday only
Hokusei or Tanuki for omakase
*Evoe -- can't stay away
PDX671 -- because I've never had food from Guam (combine with Boyd's Coffee?)
Grain and Gristle (see also brunch)
Chef Naoko's Bento Café
brunch (chosen for lack of huge lines and food!):
Interurban -- salted caramel French toast plus savoury dishes
Grain and Gristle (see also lunch, beer) -- beef hash, scrapple, beignets
Otto (wary of them not being open when they say they are though)
Sweedeedee -- corn cakes!
*Matchbox Lounge -- Must.Have.Burger
Whiskey Soda Lounge -- som tam thawt and fish sauce chicken wings
Imperial -- drinks sound good here
Double Dragon -- pork belly banh mi plus sweet tea (combine with Apex)
Cackalack's chicken sandwich
Kir Wine Bar -- happy hour
Spints -- happy hour
Brasserie Montmartre -- because it is featured on Grimm, and JillO recommended the HH there
Coco or Blue Star doughnuts
People's Pig -- porchetta
brewers to watch for: Rogue, Ninkasi, Lompoc, Double Mountain, Migration, Coalition, Burnside
**Bailey's Taproom -- love the vibe here, must try a bat next time
Hair of the Dog
Horse Brass Pub
Apex (combine with Double Dragon)
Grain and Gristle
coffee (some we've tried, lots we haven't; anything noteworthy since Oct 12??):
**Sterling Coffee Roasters -- haven't tried the newish location yet
**Coffeehouse Northwest -- good coffee close to hotel!
**Courier Coffee -- great baked goods too
**Coava Coffee Roasters-- Nuvrei pastries
Boyd's Coffee -- just to try some old school brew (combine with PDX 671?)
Cafe Velo -- for pourovers
Case Study Coffee
Stumptown Coffee Roasters -- want to check out the roastery this time
The Fresh Pot
Castagna -- drop in if we ever have room after dinner :-)
Tanuki does not serve sushi, and that is what I would primarily go to Hokusei for...and though I LOVE Hokusei and am thrilled to have it in PDX, I can't help but think that you can get awesome sushi in Van BC. Tanuki is like nowhere you have ever been...and I am saying that having no clue where you have or haven't been. ;o)
I'm not a fan of Luce or Navarre (owned by the same chef), personally. I have been underwhelmed every visit.
If you have a Peruvian rotisserie chicken place where you live, El Inka is probably not worth the time and effort (it is very much out of the way)...but it is one of the very few places you can get it here.
Podnah's is great Texas (heavy on smoke, rubbed not sauced) BBQ. Some of the best brisket and ribs you will find of this genre anywhere, including (I am told by many native Texan friends) Texas. That said, the smoked prime rib is also stellar, if it is on special the night you go.
I haven't been to Roe yet, but I love Wafu (the restaurant it is in the back of) and will get my ass there as soon as I can save up the scratch - it is one of the more expensive places in town if you do the chef's counter tasting...which I would absolutely do.
Bar Mingo is solid, Ava Gene's is brand new...but they are kind of similar in the rustic Italian upscale-ish food they serve. I'd pick one and do the other on another visit.
I really like St. Jack, but we don't have a lot of good French food here. Still the specials and cocktails/wine there might still be worth it for you. Make a reservation here or you will wait. If you get there for happy hour, you might get to taste a cocktail at a discount, and the charcuterie is usually discounted too at HH.
I'd add Heart and also Oblique to your coffee list.
Lauretta Jean's for pie is another great (and much more casual than Castagna) dessert choice. Sour cherry a la mode is a fine choice. They also make great biscuits and a great breakfast sandwich on those biscuits.
Random Order is also a great pie joint. It's up not too far from Salt & Straw on Alberta.
Spints is a great no wait brunch on the weekend, good breakfast cocktails too. The french toast with sweetbreads is a great start to your weekend day.
Other good brunches I have had recently (no wait): Accanto, Swift Lounge (dive bar by night, just started brunch service and it is really good), Sanborn's (4 words: apple bacon German pancake) - although I think their coffee sucks.
I have recently discovered Kir Wine Bar and love it. All of the food we tried and all of the wines we tried were delicious. It is a very tiny space, and the wine list is only on the large blackboard...and it is underrated, IMO. Probably going there for dinner tonight, in fact!
Are you sure I recommended Brasserie Monmarte's HH...that would be odd, I have never eaten there. ;o)
...and thanks for reminding me that I haven't gone to Matchbox yet for their burger!
Wow, thanks for the detailed response! We do have a lot of sushi and izakaya here, so I'm thinking we'll brave Tanuki if we do Japanese, though I am chary of lineups as mentioned. Any tips on timing there? Also would you pick Wafu over Tanuki, if money was no object?
Luce/Navarre 86ed! Gotta cut that list down... helpful comparison on AG and BarM; it may come down to whether they bring the risotto back in time at Bar Mingo.
I'm thinking either Ned Ludd or Lincoln, not both. Am I wrong to "pair" them? May also pull the trigger once Ned Ludd posts the March menu.
We have precisely two Peruvian restaurants in Greater Vancouver (one is probably as far away as Gresham) and neither do rotisseries chicken. Will think on...
We also have no decent bbq here so I'm very tempted by Podnah's, though I'm a bit worried by the heavy on smoke (do prefer rubbed not sauced). This may be a hard sell for the SO as he doesn't fancy bbq (but then again neither of us have ever had the good stuff). Thanks for the tip on the prime rib.
I am not a huge French food fan, and tend to prefer more casual bistro fare. I'm leaning towards going to St Jack for the patisserie in the daytime.
We tried Heart and I must admit, I was not a fan. But really appreciate you pointing out that I had missed Oblique -- it was on my list if only for the building, and I somehow deleted it.
Lauretta Jean's is an ideal rec -- we like breakfast sandwiches, and on a great biscuit... we don't have ANY good biscuits here. Sour cherry pie is a serious inducement also, and pie is a breakfast food, right? Wasn't blown away by the apple pie we tried at Random Order, alas.
Spints just rocketed up the brunch list. Sweetbreads for breakfast? Yes please. Adding your other brunch suggestions to the list, particularly Sanborn's and Swift's which I hadn't heard of (chilaquiles at the latter, woot!). We don't usually have coffee with breakfast but rather head to a place that specializes either before or after, as the SO is a bit of a coffee head.
If you don't make it to Matchbox before mid-March, drop me a line and we can introduce you to it: "JillO, this is the delicious Matchbox burger. Pleased to eat you" ;-). Do splurge on the regular (non-HH) burg there regardless, it's worth the extra bucks.
Because the Internet is forever, I was able to find your post from last May here http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8469... that mentions Brasserie Montmartre. But I won't hold you to it, and I'm so appreciative of all your tips and ideas! Silly idea to go to a restaurant just because it was on a TV show anyway...
I will 2nd the biscuits and cherry pie @ Lauretta Jeans...go for brunch, no lines(yet)..just don't do the hollandaise, it tasted like mayo! At Las Primas, you must try the yuca fritters, sweet and savory, the sweet is with a lime simple syrup that is divine!!!
Just ate @ Hokusei and it was beyond...Tanuki is an entirely different experience...like day and night.
Blue Star donuts are addictive..the passionfruit with cocoa nibs, no, the dulce de leche...wait..the choc ganache...oh right, the lemon and lime curd filled....try them all!!!!
Thanks for the heads up on the hollandaise at Lauretta Jeans, I probably would have ordered it. Yucca fries as a dessert sounds great too. Blue Star sounds like it would be up my alley for sure, esp the curd 'nuts.
Will ponder what to do about the three Japanese options on the table: Tanuki, Wafu and Hokusei. Can anyone tell me if I need to book NOW for any of the dinner ideas I have on my list (of the ones that take reservations, of course? I don't want to miss out but haven't quite got it together so if there are one or two that are difficult gets, that might tell the story!
So far my faves at Blue Star are the Key Lime with Meyer Lemon curd filling, the one with the tiny chocolate balls, and a stout chocolate cake.
Never been, but have a hard time imagining anything's worth a drive to Gresham.
Had Sugar Cube yet?
I love Chef Naoko's, but perhaps you have something comparable in Van?
Not sure why Brasserie Montmartre is on your list.
Brewers: Lompoc, Coalition & Amnesia.
I would book as far as possible in advance for Ava Genes - they really fill up between 5:30 and 9 even mid week. We had better luck calling than using Open Table during the prime time slots and did manage to get in at 7:45 at the last minute on a Monday. We also had about an hour wait at Podnahs on a Saturday night (but it was worth it - great BBQ).
*Smacks forehead* -- how did Sugar Cube fall off the radar? We stopped by last trip because we were in that hood but did not sample.
Sheepishly removing Brasserie M. As previously noted, it was a Grimm thing, not really a food thing.
We don't really have a bento specialist here that I'm aware of. Thought it might be fun for lunch.
Adding Amnesia to the brews to sample list.
I'm not much of an early adopter so may end up saving Ava Gene's for a future trip when (perhaps) it's an easier get. Thanks for the phone call tip! Hoping to be back again in June if all goes as planned.
Will sked Podnah's for either a week night or brunch if we go.
Dinners are what I'm wanting to lock in most to appease my obsessional bad self, so I'm looking at:
Bar Mingo or Ava Gene's (Thurs)
Ned Ludd (Fri)
Apizza Scholls (Sun)
Roe or Riffle NW (Mon)
Will call all tonight to see how I fare on reservations, then regroup. Thanks for your help so far. I'll be back with an update soon...
That sounds brilliant, Leonardo, thanks. Moving up the lunch list, which I will bug you all more about later :-).
Dinner plans shaping up:
Matchbox/Whiskey Soda for arrival night (no resos)
Simpatico and Riffle NW Fri/Sat depending on Simpatico menus
Ned Ludd Mon
Apizza Scholls Tue (bagged a reso here, woot!)
Top lunch contendahs so far:
Uno Mas or NEW TO LIST Tienda Santa Cruz
NEW TO LIST Sok Sab Bhai for Cambodian pork gravy "banh mi", covered seating
Chef Naoko's Bento Café
This may be useful: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/890988
...and the rest will come later. Definitely recommend Heart, Courier, and Stumptown amongst your coffee slots.
Blue Star crushes Coco and Spints brunch is divine. Would also add Woodsman Tavern, Clyde Common, Gravy, and Imperial to brunch list.
Nuvrei is terribly overrated.
Evoe is excellent and Tanuki is a blast.
OX, Castagna, Roe (in that order) were by far my best dinners in the city - Beast lags FAR behind. Little Bird and Le Pigeon were excellent.
Looking forward to digging into your mega-post, uhockey, but had to read what you thought of Nuvrei. They have a cinammon orange danish thingy there that haunts my dreams. Will have to try the wild berry brioche too, though I'm more of a savoury pastry person. They also do a very tasty "monkey bread" that I got from Coava last trip. So I guess it depends on which items you actually choose.
Thanks, COS. I've only tried the buns that they supply to Foster's for their burgers. I have them on my "big" list but only for sweets so appreciate the tip. The lotus pigs are especially cute: http://www.anxuyenbakery.com/products... Is there a savoury item you particularly recommend?
Didn't know they have banh mi here either. I still haven't had a banh mi outside Vancouver so maybe...
I was thinking of pâté chaud which is pâté in a puff pastry.
Re banh mi, I would say they are one of the best in town with the other being Binh Minh. Double Dragon, while good, is what I would call Asian fusion or Asian inspired and I don't compare them.
An Xuyen also serves the obligatory Vietnamese coffee. It is quite cheap too, probably a sandwich and a pastry will set you back $5.
I think An Xuyen makes the best pate chaud in town, followed by Binh Minh. For the regular banh mi, I prefer Binh Minh (I go to the one on SE Powell around 79th) over An Xuyen...I usually add extra meat to my sandwich. I like the reg/special but I also really like the meatball one too. They are one and two in my book either way (and there is another place nearby, which has a drive-thru, called Best Baguette - not as good, but they do have a Saigon bacon option not found elsewhere that is definitely worth a try ;o). An Xuyen is on SE Foster near 54th, Binh Minh is on SE Powell near 79th, and Best Baguette is on SE Powell near 83rd - it makes for a good crawl, esp. if you can share the sandwiches. They all bake their own bread too, which is always a bonus. A stop at the Cheese Bar at SE Belmont near 61st could round out that trip on the way back toward downtown... ;o)
Thanks to both of you! I had read that the DD banh mi was quite large. Do either of you know if any of these spots have nem nuong in their sandwiches? That is my favourite filling. I'm not such a fan of the dac biet option as I don't like things livery (oops, there goes the micron of chow cred I'd built up!)
I don't think I've ever tried a pate chaud and they look drool worthy in a quick Google search. May have to try to find them at home too :-).
I think that of the 3 I mentioned only Best Baguette does nem nuong...but I am not sure. And no worries, my GF will eat tongues and feet and sweetbreads and marrow...but she does not like the livery bits either (Yay, more foie gras for me! ;o) And, since we are sharing, fyi - I will eat all of those but I can't stand goat cheese or blue cheese. We like what we like.
See now if you're coming around to this side of town (and that brings your chowhound cred way back up there again...because few tourists do), we have a few places that make their own tofu (Bui Tofu is my fave in the NE 70s just off of NE Glisan) and there is a fresh rice noodle shop (JC Rice Noodle Shop on SE Foster near 84th). FuBonn market is a welcome change from the more corporate Uwajimaya (and sells Watari Bune 55 sake for $35 - a great deal).
And one of the best places for soup ever - a serious fave for those in the know - is HA VL - in a little strip mall space that is on SE 82nd. Go early (before noon) because they run out. They have a rotating list/schedule of Asian soups, they offer 2 each day and when they are out, they are out. It is a fave of many of the kitchen staff/chefs in town.
Ha, the SO and I have the same setup -- more foie-y goodness for him! One of the first things I ever made for him was liver and onions, a one-time only thing, y'unnerstand, but that was twenty years ago so worth it :-).
We don't discriminate on parts of town if there is good food! Best Baguette noted for NN. Have heard about FuBonn also so may swing by. And funnily enough, I added HA&VL to my snack list just two days ago. Need to try out their turmeric noodles which I think are available on Sundays. Slotting that in for elevenses after Courier and alongside Blue Star depending on whether we're feeling sweet or savoury.
Time for an updated itin (will rearrange to suit geography as necessary):
Thursday: Stumptown Roastery for a post-drive caffeine infusion, HH at Matchbox, Paa Dee or Whiskey Soda Lounge for dinner, possibly Castagna for dessert
Friday: Lauretta Jean's for breakfast, undecided snack, Evoe for lunch, Dove Vivi to split a pie for pm snack, then dinner at Simpatico (assuming we like the menu which is not yet posted)
Saturday: PSU Farmer's Market early, then St Jack's for pastries, Swift Lounge for an order of chilaquiles or Spints for the sweetbreads, PDX 671 for lunch, Artigiano's to split a pasta, Riffle NW for dinner (praying they have the petrale sole on the menu)
Sunday: Courier, then Blue Star or HA&VL (early) and Best Baguette for nem nuong banh mi and FuBonn to browse, either Naoko's or Podnah's for lunch, Spint's for HH or beer at one of several spots, Ned Ludd for dinner (finally figured out their monthly menu is buried on the website under About, so again will check when they flip over to March)
Monday: Oblique, People's Pig for porchetta and Manao for pork knuckle (lunch of champions!) or possibly Sok Sab Bhai, Uno Mas to try al pastor from the trompo (I read it's only available at dinner so we'll go at 6), Apizza Scholls for dinner (thanks again to fellow tourist uhockey for letting me know they take limited reservations now)
Tuesday: Courier to get some baked snacks for the road, Coava for coffee/Nuvrei goodies to eat and beans to take home, Podnah's or Naoko's for lunch, then on the road...
Sounds like a plan! Gotta love website that make it hard to find the menu...
Bui Natural Tofu is a must if you are in banh mi land. All kinds of lovely Viet goodies. Not much for eat in, more of a takeout, but there are tables and they would probably heat up some things for you to have there. They are friendly and helpful, and will be glad to explain what things are, as the signs leave something to be desired.
Hey Leonardo, I'm trying to figure out my Viet snax plan and I'm confused by your comment about banh mi land and Bui. They don't seem that close together on Google Maps, at least as compared to the evident proximity of HA & VL, Best Baguette and FuBonn. Maybe Bui on the way to Podnah's???
I had noted the SE Powell Best Baguette and then HA&VL plus FuBonn in that area. Sounds like Binh Minh is close by too but doesn't necessarily have my target meat, nem nuong.
We're going to try and go on Sunday and hit HA&VL for the turmeric noodles, Mi Quang, one of my favourite Vietnamese dishes.
FYI, Nedd Ludd posted their March 2013 menu on Facebook and it does have the Petrale Sole on it.
Looks good...maybe I can convince my GF to go, she refuses to go because when she looked at their old menu format, she found it to be too ridiculous to dine there. ;o) She really hated the "kalt bits" and "fore bits" arrangement. I went when they first opened and said I'd give them another shot (let's just say that it has been a learning curve using that oven and figuring out decent FOH service) - but I haven't been back yet. I have had some of their food at events and it has been good.
Thanks for the reminder to check my days closed on ALL selections, JillO. So sad to be standing in front of a Closed sign when you're hungry! Looks like it'll be Naoko for the road on the Tuesday.
I was actually hoping the sole would still be on the menu at Riffle, didn't even think of getting it at Ned Ludd. I can't eat mussels so that may nix it but the whole trout and the steelhead sound great. We really enjoyed our brunch at NL (no service issues at all) and thought it would be worth heading back for a dinner. Glad they 86'd the cutesy menu descriptions.
You and the rest of the Vancouver hounds gave me some great recs in your area (Miku & Peaceful, we miss you so much!), so let me see if I can return the favor ...
I'd probably skip sushi in the area, but I'd do Bamboo over the two places you've mentioned. I've done Hokusei, and was not impressed by their service or the extremely long list of items that they didn't have in that day. The sushi I had there was fine but not inspiring, and the cooked food was OK but not particularly memorable. I might also slip in Mirakutei if Japanese is sounding particularly good to you.
Castagna ... I feel like everyone in town loves the place, but the one time we went we had one of the worst meals of our lives. The food didn't make us sick, but all the flavor combinations were bad, the service was ruder than hell, and the price was ridiculous given the quality of the food.
Lincoln recently entered our list of top places in Portland with a bang. Get the flat bread, and get the roasted chicken. Both are extremely good, the latter may change your worldview with regard to roast chicken.
Also on this best-of list is Podnah's. I realize that these are the "boring" choices, but I always get the ribs and my fiancé always gets the brisket. They're both incredibly good.
Bar Mingo and Doc I found OK, but not inspiring. I find Ned Ludd depends a whole lot on what they're serving, which can vary from 100% overly-cheffy nonsense to a bunch of very interesting things. I really wish they'd put their menu online, as being able to vet it before we went might increase how often we went.
St. Jack we went to once, had great food, and have never had an urge to go back. We both ordered the one appetizer and one entree that sounded good to us, so going back would probably entail the exact same meal. Again, though, what we had was very good.
Dove Vivi made me blink a bit. I like their pizza, but I guess I hadn't imagined it as a destination for out-of-towners. So if you're really in the mood for a different kind of pizza, definitely go for it, but I wouldn't sacrifice Lincoln or Podnah's (or Nostrana, Tasty'n'Sons, or Laurelhurst Market) for it.
Lastly, the last time I went to Whiskey Soda Lounge, the place stank and the food seemed to have gone downhill a bit. Possibly explained by an off night and an unfortunate fish sauce spill, but it kind of soured me on the place.
Thanks, BA for the suggestions. I'm leaning away from Japanese unless we do the bento place for lunch. We do have a lot of options at home...
Not much interest in molecular/modernist food so Castagna not really on the radar, though we definitely enjoyed Cafe Castagna's happy hour last trip and would go to Castagna just for dessert.
I keep waffling about Lincoln as I really want to try their baked egg dish (thanks also for the flatbread tip). May sub it in for Simpatica. But then again, may try it for happy hour on Friday (though no chicken then).
DOC's menu is not inspiring me at the moment, and I am after the risotto at Bar Mingo which is not currently available.
St Jack is tempting for either early-a.m. patisserie items or for the happy hour, though it is only 4 to 5 pm which is not an optimal time for us.
Till recently we had crappy 'za in Vancouver. Now we have some good options but they are all Neapolitan style. Dove Vivi sounded like a fun and different option but it may work best as a happy hour option (either splitting a pie or getting a couple of slices one afternoon before going elsewhere for dinner. We did this last time with Ken's/Nostrana to good effect).
We had a nice but not life altering meal with friends at Laurelhurst last time and a headscratcher of a brunch at Tasty'n'Sons that didn't make me want to go back for dinner.
There're a few items at Whiskey that I'm interested in since we have so little decent Thai in Vancouver. We'd combine it with my beloved Matchbox Burger, and could even bail if it is not meeting standards but thanks for the heads up.
I'm keen to try the Tex Cobb salad at Podnah's but not keen on the wait so it's a lunch option now.
I'll repost my updated list shortly and also throw out a request for everyone who cares to respond to share their favourite happy hours.