Report on March 2014 visit by Vancouver BC Hound with pup
Using this enquiry thread, I was able to finetune our plan http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/965740 and we had a great visit with our 5.5 year old niece.
We went straight to Mr Green Beans on Mississippi to pick up our Hot Top roaster and 16 lbs of green beans. It had moved but luckily only half a block. Then it was off to the hotel to check in and get ready for an early dinner at Davenport.
We arrived at 6 or so to a quiet room and were smilingly seated at a perfect table with a banquette on one side. The Girl was v. happy colouring on the bench beside her and everyone was fine with a small being on the premises (we had emailed in advance but still a relief).
She had a bite of everything that arrived at the table per our agreement, but mostly focused on the outstanding cauliflower soup. The grownups enjoyed the salt cod fritters, the scallops and my beloved beet salad, a holdover from Evoe days. The standout for the evening was the nettle dumplings which, though not hugely attractive, were executed with finesse and tasted delightfully green, hearty without being heavy. We'll be back for sure.
After dinner we went to Zupan's to get some yogurt and fruit, and some baked goods since it was someone's birthday the next day. Yes, we had birthday cake for breakfast on Friday at Courier Coffee (not our finest hour as childminders but fun). We augmented our cappuccino and housemade vanilla syrup steamed milk with one of their wonderful muffins.
There is a cool sculpture across from Powell's that had to be explored, then it was time for a return visit to the Portland Zoo, where much merriment ensued. It really is top drawer, whether you are big or small.
Lunch found us at Burrasca's, located in one of the cart pods we had visited last June. It's a nice one, anchored by Captured by Porches' beer truck. The review I had read was spot on: this gentleman knows his onions.
We enjoyed a handmade tagliatelle with beef ragu, inzimino (squid and spinach in tomato and red wine with cart-made bread) and peposo (beef shank stewed in tomato, red wine and black pepper, served with polenta). The pasta was tender and cooked to a turn, the ragu was rustic and delicious, the squid was al dente and exotic with the spinach, the bread delightful, the beef stew homey and the polenta cheesy good.
And all this for $24. Outrageously good value. The small had a grilled cheese sandwich and pronounced it very fine, especially as this repast was eaten in the top of a double decker bus.
After lunch we wandered in the nabe a bit, poking our heads into several stores, including a wool shop that the little niece found enchanting. We found ourselves at Heart in time for an afternoon coffee and one of our beloved buckwheat scones. The weather just got better and better, and we were able to sit in the window. We also got to see the end of a roast in their big ol' Probat.
We walked back to the car on the side streets, admiring the spring blossoms and checking out the homes and gardens. Next stop: Hawthorne, for a bit of retail therapy. We had earlyish reservations at the Farm Cafe for a birthday celebration with my brother and sister-in-law, who were due in from Vancouver.
This restaurant seems to fly a bit under the radar, and nothing looks cutting edge, but we loved pretty much every dish -- beet salad, deviled eggs, cauliflower fritters, gratin, flame-grilled Idaho trout, cabbage roll and gnocchi. The standouts were the fish, mushrooms and gnocchi, whereas the beet salad was a bit pedestrian.
We all shared a tasty berry cobbler dessert as we were pretty stuffed. Beer (Mt Hood Hogsback oatmeal stout, Feckin Brewery's Dublin Pale) and cocktails (RCTID, with Douglas fir eau de vie) weren't too shabby either :-). The room is very cozy, inside a heritage house, the service is casual but attentive and the prices are very reasonable. Great place to celebrate the aging process with family.
Some photos: the big one is the Evoe (now Davenport) beet salad, then their salt cod fritters, the scallops and the nettle dumplings; birthday cake for breakfast!; Burrasca offerings x3; the roaster at Heart on Burnside; mushrooms, eggs, trout, gnocchi and dessert at Farm Cafe
Saturday morning saw us at PSU Farmers Market. We got rock star parking, quite literally one space from the market, which was rather grand. The boys went off in search of fine espresso based beverages in town, whereas the girls had at the market wares.
I made a bee line for Lauretta Jeans, nabbing a ham and cheese hand pie and a warmed biscuit with butter and jam. Heavenly as always. The SIL got a gigantic platter from Verde Cocina that made her very happy. We meandered around for a bit until the boys returned.
They had found Spella closed (duh, only open M-F) but remembered that Public Domain was open. Alas the Slayer was offline but they had good coffees anyway. We had slightly lame ones at one of the booths in the market :-(. J had a fine egg sandwich from Bingo Sandwiches.
We decided it was river time, taking a stroll along the boardwalk back to the so-called Saturday Market. A few enterprising young folks had set up a bubble fest for the kids which went over well with the niece, who ran around so much she got a blister from her new sandals.
On the way back to the car, we got to see the Hawthorne bridge raise for a ship, and make use of a metal toilet (!). Our lunch target was Meat Cheese Bread, since the green bean sandwich had been haunting me since October. The SO went next door to Beer for a quick (quiet) Goodlife Brown Ale, during which the runner dropped our meals and had to redo them.
Finally we all ate together. The bean sando was just as good as in memory, and others enjoyed the turkey and the meatball offerings. The bread pudding was excellent, though it could have been warmed through a wee bit more. The brownie was also delicious.
We worked off a bit of lunch by going to buy flip flops for the Girl and then walking around Hawthorne. A happy hour stop at the Bagdad found us drinking tasty beers and a decent sour plus apple cider, and nibbling on $2 fries and chickpeas before rounding out the day at a nearby playground.
Dinner at Basta's had something for everyone, and the portions were very generous too, particularly the good bread. A salad with fennel and avocado was a highlight, as were the tenderloin and skinny onion rings.
The potatoes were nothing special, and the nettle gnocchi was far too heavy and greasy. The pizza was tasty, as was the spicy spaghetti with shrimp and bacon. We had the perfect banquette table on the side of the restaurant, and the service was exemplary for a very well priced meal including a bottle of the house red for $26 (!) and a cocktail within walking distance of the hotel.
More pix: hand pie and biscuits from Lauretta Jean; Verde Cocina plate; meatball, green bean, and bread pudding from Meat Cheese Bread; salad, octopus, onion rings, tenderloin, spaghetti and pizza from Basta's
Coffeehouse Northwest was where we went Sunday morning for various beverages plus a hand pie and a buckwheat scone to sustain us till our brunch at Roost. We enjoyed our meal at Roost but unfortunately it was extremely loud in there, unlike when we went for dinner previously. The pancakes were particularly toothsome but I'd hesitate to return because of the noise level. A walk in the nabe and a stop at a playground preceded some shopping at the mall before our companions hit the highway back to Vancouver.
On our own for happy hour, we proceeded to Ecliptic to sample several beers, a sour (served with maraschino cherries at first!) and their burger and deviled eggs. All solid, and very nice to sit in their sunny establishment. Next we drove way out to an automotive store to pick up a part for the SO's new car, and found ourselves in want of further beverages. We happened across the Old Salt Marketplace which I had read about, so we bellied up to the rustic bar and had a beer (Upright Seven) and a cocktail (Kumquat Pisco Sour). A Fressen pretzel and some headcheese fritters were the appropriately bar snacky accompaniments.
Dinner was at Tabla, which was quite lovely inside and more casual than I'd pictured it. The SO ordered the winners, with the winter salad followed by the crab tortellini. My sformato was good but not transporting, and the cavatelli a bit weak, mainly due to the sauce which had chicken, green olives and something sweet. Very well priced, however.
Pix below: beer samplers at Ecliptic; pancakes at Roost; eggs and burger at Ecliptic; pisco cocktail, interior shot and Fressen pretzel at Old Salt; salad, sformato, ravioli and cavatelli at Tabla.
Glad you had another successful trip. Thanks so much for the thorough report back and all the pics! I need to try Burrasca's and Davenport, I think.
So glad you enjoyed Basta's. It's a solid place, but often gets overlooked as newer and flashier places open and command media attention. Serratto is another of those, though at a higher pricetag...glad you made it in at least for a drink and a bite.
I keep waiting for you to post that you have rented/purchased a place in Portland. ;o)
Still more to read, JillO, it's slow posting pix on CH today...
We made it to Spella on Monday morning, sitting in the tiny window niche to drink our cappuccino and mocha and to share an almond ring, which was light and crackly, if a touch sweet.
We did a bit of shopping, then over to Christopher David to ogle the lovely flowers and try a couple of coffee beverages, including the house special cafe di nini, which is a shot of espresso in coconut milk. Sitting on the wooden sidewalk sipping one of those was not a hardship :-). Nearby Tanner Springs Park is well worth a look, with its rainwater collection system and intriguing design elements, all made of recycled materials, natch. Also saw a local riding an electric unicycle, which made me inordinately happy.
Lunch was at Addy's Sandwich Bar, in search of the duck confit sandwich. We also had the soup and some kale and quinoa salad, along with a turkey, brie and cucumber sandwich. We once again got rock star parking, and enjoyed our food here, though it was not quite amazing.
Another lovely visit to the Japanese Gardens, which were relatively crowded compared to the other times we'd been preceded a happy hour stop at Serratto. A Garden Party cocktail with black pepper, gin, cucumber and lime was perfect for the warm day and the SO enjoyed his local pilsner.
We'd heard good things about the burger and they were borne out in a tasty mid rare patty. The devilled eggs were also worthy, with a bit of trout on top. Very good rock salt on the table as well was a nice touch, along with excellent service.
Continuing the alternative powered theme of the day, we saw a fellow riding what looked like an electric Razer on our way to City Market to stock up on some beers to take home. We stopped into Remedy but it seemed a bit hotel wine barry so we proceeded to Belmont Station.
Now that place is something like, a real beer drinkers bar. Loved all the taps that decorate the wall while at the ready to be used. I tried the Bend Ching Ching, while the SO had a go at the Cask Hopworks Velvet ESB. I nipped around the corner to the Italian Market food cart and got a soft pretzel and spicy potatoes, ostensibly south Philadelphia inspired. Good with beer if a bit heavy.
For our date night birthday dinner, I chose Little Bird as we'd been quite impressed with it last trip. They gave us a prime table on the mezzanine, from which we had the perfect people watching vantage. A table with a small girl caught our attention as they came in around 9 and she was perfectly well behaved for the whole late meal.
We went for non-alcoholic drinks, housemade lemonade and soda which were delightful and not too sweet. We repeated the lamb neck salad from last time to great effect, and tried another salad that had bitter greens and a deepfried cheesy bit that was also lovely, though it was hard to compete with the lamb one.
We shared a pork belly appetizer that was simple but well executed and followed that with more porky goodness, a generous piece of hammy shoulder that was everything it should have been. We were too full for dessert but they sent out a madeleine and some house made citrus ice cream that were a great finish to an excellent meal.
Tuesday morning was a bit of driving around looking for a bottle of Aviation gin to bring home for Dad's birthday and a few other odds and ends. We stopped in at Coava for coffee and some pastries, including a superb rhubarb danish and a couple of items for the road.
We had an early lunch at Lardo, where we found the double burger a bit disappointing but enjoyed the 'chefwich' of the day, designed by Sarah Schafer of Irving St Kitchen. Proceeds from this fried chicken and tasso bacon sandwich went to Share Our Strength. Who knew eating fried chicken can make you feel a bit virtuous? :-).
On the way out of town we detoured to Cathedral Coffee which is in a nice setting but perhaps wasn't worth the extra drive.
Another great visit, and we're already looking forward to coming back in mid-May!
Final pix: coffees and pastry at Spella; nini and capp at Christopher David; front of Addy's; drinks, burger, eggs and cross section at Serratto; beers and interior at Belmont Station; two salads, pork belly and shoulder, dessert and interior at Little Bird; coffee and pastries at Coava; chicken sando at Lardo; interior shots at Cathedral Coffee
Sorry to hear about the burger at Lardo, and now I wonder if they've slipped. The first time we went we thought it was incredible. The second time, we were not as excited about it, but thought maybe it was just an off day. Maybe not, based on your experience.
If you routinely like to seek out beers to take home, try Pearl Specialty Liquor store. They have a large selection of beer by the bottle from all over the world, as well as your Aviation Gin.
Enjoying reading your posts. Thanks for putting so much effort into them!
Thanks for slogging through. They'd be much shorter if I put MORE effort in :-). Thanks for the tip on Pearl. We weren't really planning on buying beer, just kinda happened. And BTW I think it's called World, not City, Market.
I'd only had the porchetta sando and the fries at Lardo, and it was when he only had the cart. Maybe too much expansion??