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Al Dente

Portland, OR

111 posts in this topic

We're heading out to the Pacific Northwest for a much needed vacation in August. We're basically doing Seattle, Portland, various coastal areas, and maybe head down to Bend as well.

What should be on the menu in Portland? We'll probably do one upscale dinner, and then search around for some local color for our other meals. Beer, obviously, will figure heavily into the equation.

Thanks,
Al

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We're heading out to the Pacific Northwest for a much needed vacation in August. We're basically doing Seattle, Portland, various coastal areas, and maybe head down to Bend as well.

What should be on the menu in Portland? We'll probably do one upscale dinner, and then search around for some local color for our other meals. Beer, obviously, will figure heavily into the equation.

Thanks,

Al

We had a great meal at Wildwood in Portland. I don't remember the specifics now, but we sat outside in fabulous weather, had nice wine pairing, fresh ingredients, etc.-- all the right elements of a great meal.

You must go to Lark in Seattle.

Have a great trip! It's a beautiful part of the country.

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Beer, obviously, will figure heavily into the equation.

August is a smidge early for Märzen, but I remember being amazed by the keg of Widmer's that Michael Jackson brought to one of his DC tastings at the Brickskeller in the '90s...probably the best I'd had outside of Bavaria. Let us know how the brews are out there nowadays?

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We had four nights in Portland and Clark-Lewis was so good we went twice. Very hip, very tasty. Call early for a res or go in early for walk-in. make this your upscale destination.

Apizza Scholls is a great pizza joint in a funky strip -- Hawthorn Blvd. -- that's well worth knocking around in addition to the good food readily available. Picture Adams-Morgan back when it was still cool. Apizza scholls would be a contender in NYC, the owners are known as the "Pizza Nazis" for their somewhat purist view of how pizza should be served -- just don't try to get more than three toppings and you'll be OK. Another plus: you can cop a beer at the bar and drink on the sidewalk as you wait for a table. For a cheap date there's a movie theater nearby that sells decent wine by the bottle to enhance your viewing pleasure. There's also a brewpub or two in the 'hood.

If you are going to be in Portland on a Saturday morning, treat yourself to the farmers market even if you can't cook anything. Fucking awsome, blows anything in DC away.

If you need a place to camp in Southern Oregon, PM. We got your spot for you.

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Hmm. We also are going out to Portland and Seattle to see family, eat good food, and drink good wine. Maybe we will see you wandering from restaurant to restaurant!

Portland: In no particular order, Wildwood; Paleys; Lewis and Clark (though some critical errors have been noted recently); Higgins (for lunch, especially).

Seattle: We have had good luck at most of Tom Douglas's restaurants. Had a nice brunch at Cafe Campagne in the Pike Place neighborhood. If you don't mind waiting in line as the price to pay for an unbelievable lunch (mostly takeout, but a small eat-in table), go to "Salumi," the salumeria run by Mario Batali's father, Armandino. If it is toward the tail end of your trip, ask him about packing up some salumi for you to bring back; you won't regret it, and you will wish you could find a place like that around here!

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I went to the Pacific NW in April. In Portland, I had a fabulous meal at The Heathman. Went the Rogue brewpub, and fell in love with their Hefewiezen.

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My gf and I just returned from a trip to the Pacific NW (just added a SEA-specific post in that thread), and sadly had time for only one dinner in Portland.

We chose Olea, led by a chef formerly of the French Laundry. Like Chef Ziebold's at CityZen, the food at Olea is simply conceived and flawlessly prepared. However, Olea is far more modest in ambition, far more casual and incredibly cheap, relatively speaking of course.

We started with grilled fava beans with serrano and manchego, and grilled dates with parma ham and vanilla-pepper oil. Both were outstanding and -- dare I say -- the dates were comparable to those served at KOMI.

For mains, I chose the duck -- breast and gnocchi accented nicely with sweet potato foam -- and my gf went with the lobster "pot pie", which was basically a whole lobster stewed in what I could only assume was a pound of butter and topped with puff pastry.

All this, plus a bottle of local pinot, for around $130 including tax and tip...a great meal and, comparing quality with cost, quite a bargain as well.

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Beer:

The Horse Brass - English Pub, excellent ambience and great beer lineup

Hair of the Dog - brand of beers brewed in Portland. If you see them, get them.

Alameda - one of the few Portland brewpubs that stood out

Tugboat - Live music, good beers (although they brew in plastic so lots of other brewers look down at them)

Food:

Higgins - Tremendous (and a great beer lineup to boot!)

Awesome city. I want to live there.

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Hmm. We also are going out to Portland and Seattle to see family, eat good food, and drink good wine. Maybe we will see you wandering from restaurant to restaurant!

Portland: In no particular order, Wildwood; Paleys; Lewis and Clark (though some critical errors have been noted recently); Higgins (for lunch, especially).

Seattle: We have had good luck at most of Tom Douglas's restaurants. Had a nice brunch at Cafe Campagne in the Pike Place neighborhood. If you don't mind waiting in line as the price to pay for an unbelievable lunch (mostly takeout, but a small eat-in table), go to "Salumi," the salumeria run by Mario Batali's father, Armandino. If it is toward the tail end of your trip, ask him about packing up some salumi for you to bring back; you won't regret it, and you will wish you could find a place like that around here!

In Seattle: For Salumi...to avoid the crowds and get a table (especially for a group), we are there at 11am when they open. They have just started selling their salumi at my neighborhood grocery store, Metropolitan Market, so that makes me happy.

If you like Vietnamese, Seattle is strong in this area. Monsoon for upscale, Tamarind Tree is more casual and authentic and has good 7 courses of Beef, and Green Leaf is more casual yet, but really excellent. Their bahn xeo is the PNW foodie group's favorite.

Tom Douglas' restaurants can be hit or miss, but are a good example of Seattle cuisine. Lark is another favorite, as is Union for wonderful food.

I regret I have no recent info on Portland, but 2 websites/blogs that are very Portland centric are extramsg's blog and Jim Dixon Real Good Food

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anyone have thoughts on Olea or Carlyle - info on food, atmosphere, service? if you had to pick, which one? is either better for dining at the bar?

thanks!

Carolyn

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Of course I didn't ask what Three Pigs have to do with Interstate/Vergos/Gridley's/Payne's/etc. in Memphis although I did address the comment about K. C.

For that which is truly unrelated I had a great meal at Portland's Fore Street last night, a restaurant that I swore I would never return to. And, curiously, there was no hesitation this time to give me a decent sized wine glass.

Fore Street actually good Q, too, although they're not known for it...

...please feel free to delete as you must...

Edited by Joe H

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I'm in Portland, Oregon right now, and a fantastic spot that hasn't yet been mentioned is the Park Kitchen in the Pearl District. We had a fabulous meal there last night for a fraction of what something of similar quality would cost in D.C. -- i.e., the brillant four-course tasting menu (each composed of a different dish for each person at the table) costs a mere $45. Mine included hangar steak salad, duck and chanterelle dolmas, Carlton Farms pork with pickled watermelon rind over a watermelon sauce, and fresh melon with housemade gelato. The other tasting menu included shaved razor clams with grilled peppers, gnocchi with local corn, Chinook salmon with diced cukes and caraway, and a piece of huckleberry cake.

We got to talking to the bartender there, and he mentioned that he wants to head out to the D.C. area to try one place in particular: Restaurant Eve (not surprising, as Scott Dolich -- the chef at Park Kitchen -- was, like Cathal Armstrong, a F&W Best New Chef). He also recommended that we try a new place here in Portland called Le Pigeon, which has been getting lots of great press among the Portland food community. The chef there is the former souschef at the recently closed Gotham Building Tavern. Le Pigeon reportedly serves the best burger in Portland.

And Anthony Bourdain has been filming here recently. He predictably liked the Heathman, but he also took in the bacon-topped maple doughnuts ("bacon maple bars") at Voodoo Doughnut.

Also, re the comments about Lark in Seattle, believe the hype. Absolutely amazing. Similar in style to Avec in Chicago, Au Pied in Montreal, etc. But that's a post for another topic heading.

Michael

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Spent 10 days in Oregon mid-August seeing family and visiting restaurants and vineyards. Herewith a brief summary.

Upon our arrival in Portland and checking in at the retro “Hotel Deluxe,” we walked to Olea (www.olearestaurant.com) in the Pearl District for its Happy Hour bar menu. Airy, open restaurant with competent and friendly service. Not crowded. Van Morrison music playing in the background. Good selection of food at a reasonable price. Veggie pizza was outstanding, as was the salumi plate and cornmeal-crusted shrimp. Lobster “corn dog” could have used a bit more lobster, just as a promising peach tart could have used some more peaches. A-to-Z Pinot Blanc went with everything.

Onward to Astoria, where we tried the funky Columbia Café for lunch. Small; just a couple of banquettes and some counter stools, but it would put any DC-area diner to shame. The chef did a terrific job with a small flat-top grill and two burners. Eclectic food with generous use of spices and hot peppers. We each had the café’s “mercy” selections (so-called because you can specify the amount of seasoning from mild to “mercy”) – seafood for me and veggie for Mrs. Dcdavidm. Mine had a truly outstanding, and large, piece of smoked tuna that the chef had acquired that day. Incredible bargain.

Quick trip to Seattle to see friends. Despite its proximity to the Pike Place Market tourist hubbub, we had an excellent brunch at the Café Campagne (www.campagnerestaurant.com). A bistro menu with simple preparations of excellent-quality ingredients. We had piquant bloody marys, a quiche, and poached eggs, along with selection of rose wines to go with the brunch food.

Spent a few days at Cannon Beach (been there before) and found good cheap eats at the Warren House Pub, which was adjacent to the place where we were staying. The “oyster burger” was head and shoulders above any po’ boy in this area, with succulent oysters arranged on a credible bun with a tasty chipotle sauce. A smoked salmon salad was high quality and generous. Pub has an associated brewery, and beers and ales were outstanding, including a summer-refreshing, raspberry-tinged wheat beer.

Stopped for lunch in McMinnville at the McMenamins Hotel Oregon (http://www.hoteloregon.com). Our string of finding good food at funky places came to an end. Hotel was appropriately funky, with some wonderfully cozy, period-piece eating rooms and great beers, but mediocre burgers, limp fries, and a botched food order. Nice view from the rooftop pub, though.

Spent a few days in the Willamette Valley wine country (can recommend the Tuscan-like Black Walnut Inn as a place to stay), and luckily found out about the restrictions on liquid carry-ons before we had purchased too much wine to bring back to DC. The Painted Lady Restaurant (http://www.thepaintedladyrestaurant.com) in Newberg was outstanding. Old-mansion décor; good food; excellent service. Prix-fix menu that changes with what is available. Corn fritter with lime aioli for an amuse bouche; just-out-of-the-garden beet salad; prawn bourride that tasted of the ocean; crispy polenta with vegetables and arugula pesto that sang; and halibut that tasted like it was just caught, complemented by homey fried green tomatoes. Since we are on a rose kick this summer, we had a J.K. Carrier Glass Rose Pinot Noir that went well with the meal.

Back in Portland, had an off-putting evening at the new, trendy, Fenouil Restaurant in the Pearl District. We miscalculated the time it would take to walk to the restaurant and arrived a half hour early for our reservation. Oddly, despite the place being only a quarter filled, the hostess said she could not seat us until our reserved time. In a busy place I could understand that, but at the same time, she was seating walk-ins! We opted to wander around the neighborhood to exhaust our half-hour penalty time, returned at the appointed hour, and were subsequently seated in a lonely second-floor isolation booth devoid of any ambience and the liveliness that characterized the open-air first floor, where tables still were vacant. (We cynically judged that she was punishing us for not wiling away our apparently mandatory wait time buying overpriced drinks in the bar.) We decided not to stay. To her credit, our server offered to put us in touch with the manager, but by then the dining mood had been destroyed and we just didn’t want to argue about it.

Instead, we walked (Portland is made for walking) to our old standby, Paley’s Place (http://www.paleysplace.net), and asked if they could accommodate us without a reservation. In contrast to Fenouil, they were glad to see us, welcomed us effusively, and sat us immediately and graciously. We had a creative mozzarella and tomato “three ways” appetizer with three variations on the summer cheese and fruit pairing; a spicy gazpacho; gnocchi with Dungeness crab; and a Dungeness crab/chanterelle risotto, with chanterelles that had just been picked that day. Wonderful.

We also went to another old standby, Wildwood Restaurant (http://www.wildwoodrestaurant.com), which we were curious about because we had heard rumblings that the place had gone downhill a bit. From our perspective, it had not. The drinks, food, and wine were all terrific. A roasted tomato soup was outstanding, as was an heirloom tomato salad with sautéed chanterelles, toasted bread, and scrambled egg. Main courses were a perfect mesquite-grilled chicken and an outstanding grilled albacore tuna accompanied by a Dungeness crab salad. A Bethel Heights Pinot Noir went with just about everything.

On a day-trip up the Columbia Gorge, we stopped for a late lunch in Hood River at the Columbia Gorge Hotel (http://www.columbiagorgehotel.com). Although a bit warm outside in the sun, we had a nice lunch (generous clam-filled chowder; well-prepared burger; credible pork sandwich; excellent beer) overlooking the gorge and a river filled with colorful wind-surfers.

Back in Portland, we had dinner with a friend at Higgins (http://higgins.citysearch.com/). As an example of good customer service, we had a reservation, but as we were walking to the restaurant, our dining companion called us to say she had been delayed by the extra airline security procedures. When we stopped in at Higgins to explain that our friend probably would be at least an hour late, they were only too happy to accommodate us at a later, indefinite time. When our friend finally arrived and we returned to the restaurant, they welcomed us warmly, even inquiring about the hassle of her flight. Food was excellent. We shared an appetizer special of Lebanese (!) delicacies (which the kitchen bulked up for the three of us). A simply-grilled salmon was outstanding, as was an incredibly rich lamb shank and a simple hazelnut pesto pasta, all accompanied by a Bergstrom Pinot Noir. Service was outstanding, and despite our late arrival, they let us hang around to finish unhurried even as they were closing for the evening.

Finally, on the way to the airport for our return trip, we stopped at a relatively new, urban-French restaurant in the redeveloping Hawthorn neighborhood, Café Castagna (http://www.castagnarestaurant.com/). Good burgers and a well-prepared, if pricey, Caesar salad.

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My lovely wife and I will be driving from Seattle to Portland in just a week or so. Any "must stops" along the way?

We've never found much interesting along I-5. Veer west, though, to the Long Beach Peninsula (Washington) and check out the Shoalwater Restaurant in Seaview; take a walk around Cape Disappointment; cross into Oregon at Astoria and have lunch at the quirky Columbian Cafe. Alternatively, veer east and spend some time (weather permitting) discovering what's left of Mt. St. Helens.

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It's been a couple weeks, but I am still thinking of the meal I had at Le Pigeon. When I last lived in Portland, East Burnside was full of methamphetamine and prostitutes. Now it's a burgeoning restaurant district and home to Gabe Rucker's (Food and Wine Best New Chef) tiny little restaurant. We got their early and sat at the counter. Gabe discussed nearly the entire menu with us before it got busy. Starters were good but not quite as impressive as the mains. They were tongue bacon and pickled egg salad and seared foie gras with apricots in puff pastry. I felt obliged to order the tongue after hearing how much work it took to make tongue bacon, but ultimately the tongue was kind of bland. The egg salad was nice though and I appreciated the creativity of the dish. My better half had the foie and loved it. For mains I had pork with curried fennel and she had beef cheeks bourgignon. The beef cheeks were the best I've ever tasted, fork tender and great depth of flavor. The pork and curry was really outstanding. The pork chop was sous vide, served on top of the curried fennel, with something else I can't remember. The flavors just worked. Dessert really sent this meal over the top. Profiteroles with foie gras ice cream. This dish was insane, made even more rich by a thick caramel sauce. I could have eaten 2 or 3 plates of these.

If you are ever in Portland, go to Le Pigeon. It rocks. This was one of the best meals I have ever had.

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I can't say enough good things about Clyde Common which opened in the Ace Hotel in Portland in May of 2007. My wife and I ate there back in June when we stumbled upon the place near our downtown hotel. It features communal tables, high ceilings, knowledgeable service, and seasonal cooking. There was a chicken liver appetizer on the menu back in June that was just exquisite (and I don't even particularly like chicken livers). IMG_3904.JPG

I look forward to returning while in Portland on business next Friday evening. I'll report back.

Another must visit in Portland is Pearl Bakery.

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After a birthday weekend visit to my hometown, the restaurant visits definitely deserve mention on this board. So I'm breaking down and writing my first post, despite no longer living in DC and having been a member for a couple years...so bare with me if I don't know how to link properly...

Evening #1: Alberta Street Oyster Bar and Grill http://www.albertaoyster.com/ Located in the newly revitalized Alberta neighborhood on the east side. Had an excellent Chateau De Vaudieu, Chateaunuf du Pape, 04. Highly recommend the Squash Soup with Chestnuts, Prunes, and housemade Rabbit Sausage; Diver Scallops with Beluga Lentils and Chicken Liver Sauce (won our vote for best plate); and the Escolar with Brussel Sprouts, Cous Cous, and Warm Bacon Vingaigrette (the last being a surprise winner).

Afternoon #1: Kenny and Zuke's Delicatessan http://www.kennyandzukes.com/ Located next to the Ace Hotel/Clyde Common. Open till 3am Fri/Sat with a late night menu. Seriously THE BEST pastrami I've ever had in my life. My boyfriend almost declared defeat with the Pastrami Eggs Benedict but managed to put down the last bite. I had the Pastrami on Rye Sandwich (with the mustard and special sauce on the side). Coleslaw and housemade pickles are worth an add on, as are the Latkes. I thought I was crazy until today when The Oregonian came out with its review. http://www.oregonlive.com/dining/index.ssf...enny_zukes.html Their catering is top notch as my parents used them for their annual holiday party.

Evening #2: Le Pigeon http://www.lepigeon.com/ Located on E. Burnside, just across the river from Downtown. With all the press and recommendations to boot, my parents, boyfriend and I squeezed into a communal table with an 8 o'clock reservation. Note they do not take reservations for the counter or for anytime between 6:30 and 7:30. Everything, and I mean just about every detail, lived up to expectations. There are only 3 communal tables that fit approx 12-14, and while the I understand the point of sharing your eating experience with others, there is no way you could fit as many guests in that tiny space with individual tables. The place was packed on a Sunday night and had to turn away guests, which is no surprise to outsiders but for the city of Portland, that's amazing. Not a single plate proved a disappointment, but the highlights include: Sweetbreads with Parsnip and Fois Gras (my favorite, if only for the parsnip/fois accompaniment); Beef Neck Terrine with Truffles; Venison with Blue Cheese and Hazlenuts; and Gnocchi (the menu has already changed, but ours was Bone Marrow Gnocchi with Snails and Parsley).

Afternoon #2: Bush Garden, Japanese restaurant (not the theme park) http://www.bush-garden.com/ (website not that helpful) Located next to the MAX station at 9th and Morrison in Downtown. I've been going there for years and while under new ownership, still a family favorite. I usually sit at the Sushi Bar but they have super comfy Tatami rooms. Both Sushi Chefs were new but I ordered the Broiled Mackeral, Yellowtail Sashimi, and Miso Soup.

Evening #3: Amnesia Brewing Company, website down, located on corner of N. Beech and Mississippi on the east side. One of my favorite places in the city, if not the country. Beers are brewed on site and they have a huge (permanent) tent outside. Desolation IPA is outstanding, as is their ESB. They rotate some other local brews as well. Only serve sausages/burgers and while dog friendly, no kids allowed. You can purchase quarts ($7) to go. Might be wise to bring your own container, they sometimes run out.

That does it. Portland puts my new home of Denver to shame.

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Le Pigeon is a must-hit if you're in Portland. Oxtail, Foie, Fried Beef Tongue. All rich and delicious, and a bargain given the quality and quantity of food.

The Horse Brass continues to be one of the best places in the country to drink beer. Multiple casks, all of my favorite hoppy beers from the area. Full English breakfast that starts at 9am on the weekends. Stellar.

Belmont Station continues to be the best beer shop in the city, although it moved 4 blocks up from the Brass and now has a bar of its own. I picked up a 12-bottle styrofoam shipping box at Liner and Elsen at jparrot's recommendation, and stocked up on some tasty treats at Belmont.

Bailey's Taproom was a new one for me, and a great find. Right downtown, excellent tap list, and friendly propietor (most nights, he's the only one on staff, but he brings in another bartender on the weekends).

Clear Creek Distillery is making some really excellent eau-de-vie, and the tour is informative and fun.

New Old Lompoc is a cool brewpub in a city awash with cool brewpubs. Nothing stands out exceptionally here, it's just a solid brewpub with unusual beers on nitro (a personal weakness of mine).

Tugboat is a brewpub across the street from Bailey's. I had been impressed by the Chernobyl imperial stout a couple years ago, but found it seriously lacking this time around. They have boardgames and occasionally live music...the ambience is the only reason to go here.

Green Dragon (on Yelp) is a relatively new taphouse, and I wasn't impressed. They were really low on stock both times we stopped by here, and the stuff they had just wasn't impressive. Hopefully this picks up, it has great potential.

It was a good, good, good weekend. I'm probably forgetting a place or two, and I could go into more detail on each, but the gist is that you should go to Portland. Like now. Beers, even at the big multi-tap places, almost never reach above $4. The average 20oz pint was $3. Seriously. And with a $250 round trip from BWI, the weekend didn't put as much of a dent in the wallet as it could have.

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One notable place I forgot: The Carlyle - really nice cocktails and bar food (charcuterie plate, pork ribs) here. He's got several good rye whiskeys, and I was unlucky to arrive only a day before a shipment of Carpano was scheduled to arrive. Still had a couple delicious drinks.

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[Clear Creek Distillery is making some really excellent eau-de-vie, and the tour is informative and fun.

Did you have their Douglas Fir eau-de-vie? I thought it was interesting, but not anything that I'd want to drink regularly.

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It's pretty poor, nowhere near as good as Two Amy's or Comet. OK beer on tap.

Which is pretty poor Apizza Scholls or Pete's? And why so?

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