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Little Bird remains amazing. I was planning on going elsewhere last night, but my own laziness found me walking two blocks rather than twelve, and I'm not upset about it. The sheep cheese gnocchi with asparagus, pea puree, morels and black garlic butter sauce was amazing. Like eating spring on a plate. The roasted lamb neck with peppers and pea shoots was also fantastic. I love eating at the bar here.

Also finally got around to trying out Multnomah Whiskey Library (I say finally, but they've only been open since October). Great spot for a cocktail. It's quiet, so if you can get in you can actually have a conversation along with your drink. Very extensive whiskey collection, and very knowledgeable bartenders. Great addition to downtown. Love seeing places opening on the west side of the river, as that's where I always stay.

Finally, just as an aside, I always find McMenamins' beers average at best.


More from this trip:

Imperial - It's right next to my typical hotel (Vintage Plaza; among Kimpton Hotels Monaco is better, but at times Vintage Plaza is as much as $100 per night cheaper, and at that point the Vintage Plaza is totally the way to go). I've never been, and it's only been open about a year. They carve their own ice and it's beautiful. If you want a cocktail you can do far worse. We ordered very light last night, but our scallop crudo, the grilled broccoli with anchovies, our roasted cauliflower, and our "meat plate" were all outstanding. I'd recommend it, and will probably be back soon.

Teardrop Cocktail Lounge - My bartender at Multnomah Whiskey Library told me this is the best cocktail program in the city. I'm not qualified to make that judgement, but it is a damn fine cocktail bar, and I'll happily come back. On a Thursday, it wasn't slammed, the service was beyond reproach, and the drinks were inventive and spectacular. I'll fully recommend it if you're out drinking in the Pearl.

Park Kitchen - I've been to Park Kitchen at least a dozen times in the 10 years + they've been open. I've never had a bad meal. Tonight, given my drinks at the Teardrop, I found myself both in the neighborhood and in the need of food. It was fantastic. The beet salad was delicious, if not particularly inventive. The scallop dish, with a fried savory carrot cake, was both delicious and inventive, and my final small plate, with a house made lamb sausage, pickled turnip and walnut grits, was also outstanding. I'll keep coming back here. It's a real gem.

Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub - I've never eaten here but I've drank here a ton, including a brief stop yesterday. It's fine, you could do worse. But it's Portland, if you want to drink beer you can do far better.

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Stayed in Portland, OR to play after work brought me there.  Visited the following and can elaborate at a later date if there is interest: Ned Ludd Perfect introduction to Portland scene--twee an

I have so so so so so many Portland recommendations, but I will limit myself to a handful right now: Farm Spirit is doing some pretty astonishing things with Northwestern ingredients.  It's a veg

Jianbing and roujiamo from Master Kong on SE Division.  It's a small, cozy place with excellent options (I wanted to try so many more things) and apparently a terrible wait on the weekends, but at ope

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Jake's - I can't hate on this place, but realistically it's the Old Ebbitt of Portland, with the negative fact that it's owned now by McCormick's. It feels super Portland to me.

Bunk Sandwiches - It's great. I wish they were on H Street. The pork belly Cubano is fantastic, and we also loved the roast beef sandwich. Tiny, divey, and awesome. Love this place.

I continue to enjoy Raven and Rose, and I can now say from experience that it's a good place to meet a group in the upstairs bar. Vinopolous is one of my favorite wine shops anywhere. Saturday Market is fun, although less things I think I'd like to buy than I'd expect.

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A first swing through Portland took us to Olympic Provisions, Roe, and American Local.

Best to...quite good

Roe - we're not cooked fin fish people, so this place might be even better for people who like cooked fish.  Still, it's mindblowingly good even for "not cooked fin fish people".  Great techniques and flavors and ingredients.

American Local - Very close to Roe, so we wouldn't resist an encore here.  Despite it's name, the menu is actually a lot like what an Izakaya would offer.  Lots of crudos, things grilled on skewers, small dishes prepped with local produce.  The grilled skewers might be the best, but the crudos were also really good.  Great place.

Olympic Provision - pretty solid brunch, the charcuterie sausages were a bit young and underseasoned for my taste.  Definitely get the pork rillettes handpies, that was amazing.  This place might be proving the case that there is such a thing as too much butter in your food - we had a sausage biscuit that sort of fell apart because the biscuit was so moist with butter.

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While I still remember, I was in Portland the last weekend in May. A few thoughts:

Beast - Spectacular. Just a really cool dining experience, and it's great to be able to see Naomi Pomeroy put out beautiful and delicious food right in front of you. In many ways it feels like a very cool dinner party, but with better food.

Expatriate - Owned by Naomi and her husband, who runs the place, this is a fantastic bar, and a great place to grab a drink or two before dining at Beast. I wish it were closer to where I stay because I could see visiting this bar regularly during my times in Portland.

Imperial - This is turning into my evening office. It's right next to my usual hotel, the food is consistently very good, the drinks are spectacular, and the bartenders are wonderful. I will keep returning.

Little Bird - Can't say enough good things about this place. Perhaps my favorite restaurant currently in Portland.

Kenny and Zukes - They have a really good pastrami sandwich.

Roman Candle Bakery - On Division. Good pizza, good spot in general. Don't know that I would travel to the east side for it again, but it worked for the get together we were having.

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We had some very fine meals in Portland before catching our flight out yesterday (or today, if counting by Pacific Time).  In order of favorite to least favorite, for this leg.  Overall for Portland, I'd put Roe at the top, American Local in the same range as Pok Pok and Little Bird, and Olympic Provisions just above Le Pigeon.

Pok Pok - +1 asked me if I'd rather have Bangkok Golden (which we love and go to regularly) or Pok Pok in my neighborhood.  I admitted that I'd prefer Pok Pok based on our one experience. Good strong flavors, good ingredients and prep, good service and beverage program.

Little Bird - I found Little Bird much more enjoyable than its famous sister.  I liked the food we got a lot, I really liked my cocktail, and the staff here took good care of us.

Beast - really good food, maybe on the same level of execution as Roe (Le Pigeon was also technically flawless), just didn't quite enjoy the menu as much as Roe.  I still enjoyed it plenty, however.

Bunk Sandwich - very good sandwiches and carne asada fries, seem to have a good bar and beers on tap, though I'm not the best judge..

Le Pigeon - I had the highest hopes for Le Pigeon and felt slightly let down by it.  Part of it was flavor combinations that didn't work for me, as +1 liked everything we had a bit better than me.  Bigger part was the somewhat awkward service and atmosphere.  It's hard to put my finger on anything specific being obviously wrong, I just found it a lot less attentive than Little Bird and enjoyed it much less.

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For a "very Portland-ie" breakfast, try the Tin Shed at 1438 NE Alberta St.  It's one of those places where you want to try every single dish on the menu, and each one is very difffernt from the next.

They also have a menu for dogs!  (Dogs eat free on Tuesdays!)

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I spent a few nights in Portland over a long Labor Day weekend.

Bunk - I continue to love their sandwiches. The pulled pork sandwich this last time was great, and the pork belly Cubano continues to be fantastic. I'm glad this place isn't on H Street as I would gain fifty pounds.

Swank & Swine - A new restaurant, or combination of two restaurants, in the Paramount Hotel. Swine is the bar, featuring a fair collection of American whiskeys and elevated bar food. Swank is the higher end restaurant on the other side of the lobby. I enjoyed our pre-dinner drinks at Swine. And while we liked our meal at Swank after, nothing really hit. I can't bring up their menu online right now, but there seemed to be one thing about each dish that missed just slightly. So while I wouldn't recommend against going there, I also wouldn't strongly suggest doing so either, if that makes sense.

Mediterranean Exploration Company - This is the newest (I think, but it's at least relatively new) spot from the folks that brought you Toro Bravo and Tasty & Sons. Like those spots, it's small plates. This is kind of their Zaytinya to Toro Bravo's Jaleo. It's fantastic. The standouts for us were the Oregon Albacore with a beet-olive salsa, the fennel salad, and the fried chicken with aleppo pepper and honey. But everything we ordered was at least very good, and it was just a fun place to have dinner with a lively atmosphere. We were able to walk right in, but this was on a Tuesday night, the day after Labor Day. That is likely not the case on other days.

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I was back in Portland last week for work. Unlike on some of my previous trips, I didn't get out and about much to newer places, but here are a few notes at least:

Three Degrees - This restaurant is located in the Riverplace Hotel (now a Kimpton), and is, as the name suggests, right on the Willamette River. When the weather is nice, they've got a great patio with fantastic views, and it's an extremely pleasant place to have a drink. I chose it for dinner with my parents, because my dad does very poorly in loud restaurants. This fit the bill, and the food was good to very good, if not great. I wouldn't seek this place out, necessarily, but also wouldn't be opposed to returning, if that makes sense.

Imperial and Park Kitchen - I've written about both of these places before, and I continue to really enjoy them. The chef from Imperial is, incidentally, on this season of Top Chef.

Nong's Khao Man Gai - She's now got two food trucks, and a brick and mortar restaurant, but I've only been to the truck in the Alder Street pod (near the corner of 11th). She serves chicken and rice. It's wrapped up in butcher paper, and comes with a small container of broth. And it's spectacular. I don't really know how to describe it, but everything, from the chicken, to the rice, to the sauce, is just perfect. And, despite the fact that she's attained some degree of fame via Chopped, and now has the other locations, you'll still see Nong working her first cart on a regular basis.

Le Bistro Montage - I haven't written about the Montage before because it's been a few years since I've been back. The Montage is an ostensibly Cajun restaurant located on the east side directly under the Morrison Street Bridge. We used to go in college because it's open late (the kitchen is open until 2 am on weeknights, and 4 am on weekends), and because there aren't that many places you can go to when you're under 21 late at night after rock shows. I don't think I've even eaten there before 11 pm, so I don't know that I can describe what a "normal" dining experience there looks like (although I suspect that eating there at midnight is essentially a normal dining experience). I like the Montage a lot. I pretty much only order oyster shooters ($1.95 a piece), alligator jambalaya ($13.75 for a large order, and that's essentially the top of the price spectrum here), and cans of Rainier beer ($2). This is the only restaurant where I've seen Mickey's widemouths on the menu, and I have a distant memory of having ordered one or more of those on occasion as well. I see now looking at their website that they have a quite extensive list of wines by the glass, and cocktails, and all of these are under $10 (most of the wines are under $8 a glass). The various mac and cheese options are extremely popular with my friends. The food is good, and I've never had a meal here that I'd describe as bad, yet it's not a place I'd go out of my way to eat at either. It's an experience. All of the seating is communal, service is typically fine, and irreverent, and they wrap up your leftovers in foil works of art, some of which are as big as three or four feet tall. And I can tell you that my jambalaya (although probably not the Rainier) was absolutely essential to my general well being at 12:30 am on Friday morning.

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More on Portland and Oregon in general later...but, just got back.

After trying to get in to Le Pigeon (failing for all 3 days), we opted for Clarklewis, Paley's Place and then (after we were kind of mislead by the Le Pigeon folks on the phone...) at Castagna. Paley's was the best of the three we tried.

Glad to have west coast coffee, Peet's was quite nice.

Voodoo donuts are indeed great. The maple bacon lives up to the hype, too.

Outside of Portland, we dined all over.

Peerless in Ashland is very good. And, if you stay at the hotel, the breakfast is amazing.

Sammy's New Cowboy Bisto (in Talent), is as good as they say and we were only able to get in for lunch.

Yachats River House in Yachats is quite, quite good.

Bay House in Lincoln City (just south of actually) is also quite good. And, one of their waiters there, Mac, is a true professional and also very engaging. ANd the lamb that I had here was truly outstanding.

Joe Palmer House in Dayton is mushroomy good, but more so in a n old school way. Not a terribly disappointment, but a bit of a let down from my trumped up hopes. Nick's Italian Cafe in McMinnville just a bit west of Dayton is far, far superior.

In the Columbia River Gorge area, in Hood River, the Full Sail Brewery is located there and they have a pub and tasting area. Their beers are very good, but they made one of the best fish and chips I have ever had for lunch there.

Believe it or not I finally found my notes on my dinners out there.

My notes on Clark Lewis (from Fall 2009, but an internet search indicates they are still around)--

Good Bread. Funky and inventive space.  A nice excellently seasoned fig and cheese salad. A rigatoni dish was sauced quite well and was a nice pairing for the 2007 Patricia Green Pinot Noir Ribbon Ridge Estate we were drinking (hay, smoke, fresh ripe cherries, smooth).  Well executed salmon with super crisp crust. Perfume artichokes with better potatoes. Solid. A scallops dish also involving pork shoulder, onions and mushrooms - excellent. A cavatappi dish the was marred by underdone peas but was well seasoned. Still decent. A pork shoulder dish with hazelnuts, figs and corn. Really genius. Finished with a plum tart (which was nice and tart!) paired with olive oil ice cream. Solid.

If they are good as this dinner still now these days, I'd go back.  Still Paley's Place was a few rungs above this for sure. Sadly, I was having such a mind blowing time at Paley's I do not think I took notes. And they have Underberg on the menu! Castagna was fine but not really noteworthy.

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Just some quick notes:

Little Bird - It's great. when flying to Portland on the direct flight on Alaska I do my best, with the help of the fruit and cheese plate, to hold off and eat either here or at Imperial after I land. Great cocktails, great food, great service. Love this place.

Le Pigeon - I hit both of these places up on this trip. It had been a few years since I'd been to Le Pigeon, and it's still fantastic.

Verdigris - Went here on the recommendation of a coworker. It was a very nice neighborhood restaurant, and with the deal they were offering ($30 for three courses, with wine pairings added for $15) it was a heck of a good deal. I don't know that anything we had was special enough for me to travel out of my way to sample it again, but it was still quite good.

Cascade Brewing Barrel House - They focus on sour beers, and they make some wild stuff. I liked the beers I sampled, although that much sour really wore out my taste buds. The food we had  (mostly sandwiches) was solid.

Nong's Khao Man Gai - It remains awesome. Really love her cart.

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Just returned from 5 days in Portland.  I absolutely loved Le Pigeon- despite the fact that my quail was slightly overcooked. But the flavors were so good that I overlooked the flaw.

Pok Pok - as everyone agrees is worth the hype. We benefited from having a large group and so they took a reservation. I was disappointed in Voodoo Donuts- found them heavy and way too sweet. Fell in love with the much more creative and lighter version at Blue Star Donuts.  The best ice cream I've ever had at Salt & Straw.

We had an unfortunate experience at Imperial- the wood-fired oven was not functioning. Our server repeatedly told us about all the dishes we were unable to order.  But the fried chicken was marvelous and I got a chance to talk with "Top Chef" Doug Adams.

Highlights of this and more are on my blog at http://beenthereeatenthat.net/2015/11/portland-oregon/ 

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Quick trip to Portland earlier this week. 

Q - This new restaurant is apparently from the team behind the (sadly) closed Veritable Quandary. As a huge fan of the VQ, I was excited to try this place out, and it did not disappoint. The menu very much reminded me of the VQ. I had the cochinita pibil sandwich, which was outstanding. It's a good downtown dining option. 

Por Que No - This place has been described to me as "that hipster taco place", and that's pretty accurate, particularly the location I went to, which is on perhaps the most hipster street in the country, Mississippi Avenue. But it's still good, and not that expensive, and the tacos and beer really hit the spot on Monday night. Would happily return.

Sasquatch Brewery - I've only had beers here. It's good, and one of the few good options in this part of SW Portland. 

Mississippi Studios - Not a food recommendation, but this is a very good rock and roll club. I saw LVL UP here on Monday night (after the aforementioned tacos at Por Que No). Good sound, good sight-lines, good beer selection. 

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I have so so so so so many Portland recommendations, but I will limit myself to a handful right now:

Farm Spirit is doing some pretty astonishing things with Northwestern ingredients.  It's a vegan tasting menu and, despite being omnivorous, I had so much fun the first time I went in early March that I'm going again with my family in late April.  The beverage program is absolutely top-notch as well, focused on natural wines (as well as beers, ciders, and non-alcoholic choices) and offering some really, really interesting stuff.  One piece of advice, though, is to order your beverages a la carte rather than doing one of the flights -- unless they've adjusted the pricing, the flights were not good value (as in, you could order full pours of every one of the flight wines a la carte for just a little bit more cost than the half-pours you got in the flight). 

Chiang Mai is the tiny, warm Thai place clearly located in what used to be the living room of a cute one-bedroom house and turning out an extensive menu of flavor bomb dishes that you won't find very many places (the larb muang made with blood is earthy and herby and awesome) that you never knew you needed in your life.  A perfect antidote/counterpoint to the Pok Pok empire.  This is maybe my favorite place in Portland, which is saying a lot, because Portland has Nong's.

The Rum Club is the platonic ideal of a neighborhood craft cocktail bar.  Friendly, warm, comfortable, with fricking ridiculous and inventive and deceptively simple drinks (the finish of the Rum Club Old Fashioned goes on and on in about seven different directions), all reasonably priced, PLUS they have a little kitchen in the back that offers a well-curated menu of anything from bites to a meal, like the rockin' pozole I had here a year ago.  (Current food menu and current drink menu.)  Go to the Rum Club and you'll understand a little of what I mean when I lament at the quality of neighborhood bars in DC.

Tanuki is a one-woman labor of love that is an experience like no other.  Armed with a hotplate, a prickly attitude, restrictive hours (Thursdays through Saturdays if you're lucky, dinner only), a wide variety of sake, and an abundance of cheesy japanese horror films constantly playing in the dimly-lit room, the chef puts together dirt-cheap ($30 will get you more food than you can probably eat) omakase menus of Korean and Japanese bar bites in what looks like a dive bar, complete with old-school pinball machines.  The food is good -- sometimes very good.  But the ambience is something else.

Also, in a town awash with awesome beverage choices, I recommend swinging by the tasting room of Teutonic Wine Company.  Extremely friendly people and extremely cool wine that you're not going to find in very many places (I think they only distribute in Portland and to a small list of restaurants elsewhere; I first had a glass of their wine in Parachute in Chicago).  I recommend a glass of the Deep Probe if they have it.

I've got more recommendations, but that'll do for now.

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Stayed in Portland, OR to play after work brought me there.  Visited the following and can elaborate at a later date if there is interest:

Ned Ludd Perfect introduction to Portland scene--twee and chill, mostly glass structure hard to find since the tiny building is fronted by the peaked roof of a white tarp that protects a woodpile as large as the restaurant. Not sure 19th-century idealists did macrame, but that's what decorates interior walls along with copper molds that gleam under hanging brass lamps. Tables are separated from the kitchen by a barrier that resembles a woodpile. Meals are cooked within a large brick wood-burning oven by three bearded dudes wearing baseball/farmers hats so, of course, I ordered the unfiltered wine. Trout.  Rhubarb crisp flavored with star-anise. 

Torre Bravo Highly recommend the tasting menu; great neighborhood favorite where sitting at the bar was lots of fun--got good recommendations for dining later in the week. Highlight: raddichio salad with green olive tapenade and charred toast. Grilled octopus tentacle draped over bright green fava beans. Flattened lamb chops and roasted half of an artichoke. Black truffles studding slab of duck mousse.

Portland Farmers Market at PSU 140 farms, fisheries, and food-related businesses. Long, long harsh winter meant asparagus was still around, but so were local morels and porcini/boleti -te or tuses. Tiny Mt. Hood strawberries. Tayberries.  The prettiest fava beans I ever did see--just bought a bunch to de-pod on a park bench for lunch.  Pine State Biscuit for breakfast, but skip the Reggie Deluxe and go for something more basic to have room for the hash. Or join the burrito line.  Or the ramen line near the guy with the truffles. Dried tart cherries came home with me--unsweetened.

Pok Pok

Salt & Caramel June's flavors conformed to recent trend of using vegetal parts normally tossed [on compost piles in this city]: celery root and strawberry leaf jam is an example. Crystal fragments in the ice creams I tried.

Fifty Licks  Since I was a fruit bat in a former life, I preferred this to the S&C closest to my B&B on Division.  Bluebarb and tart cherry scoops were great as was the honey caramel.

Blue Star Donuts  Blueberry bourbon. No room for the Mexican Chocolate cake donut and they were out of the buttermilk.

Ava Gene's  Cherry and radish salad, amazing. Great rye cavatelli with porcini and broccoli.

Andinia  Sea scallops on a white rectangular plate, each ringed and held aloft by yellow potato puree and capped by quinoa-crusted passion fruit glaze.

Parasol (part of the Biwa group)  Disappointing.

Farm Spirit Surprised and pleased to see the mention above. Loved this place, possibly the most. More later.

Ken's Artisan Bakery  Walnut roll, the best.  Ken Forkish. Regret not having an evening to check out his pizzeria and another to compare it to Ascholl's.


Broder's Cafe

World Market

Jacqueline's under a portrait of Bill Murray in tux and red wool cap. $1 oysters at Happy Hour every day of the week. Yes, there were pea shoots in the bowl of manila clams and they were good.

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On 7/3/2017 at 2:18 PM, peasoup said:

Holdfast Dining. Exquisite dinner. Incredible value.

The meal here was the most joyous and delightful dinner I've had in some time. The 2 chefs were so earnest and enthusiastic and utterly unpretentious. Their ingredients were pristine and beautiful, at the peak of ripeness, totally fresh. Their dishes were well thought out with no out-of-place components and well executed. The wine pairings were picked by the wine maker of Fausse Piste and were selected with obvious consideration for the food (c'mon, a 2001 Kalin Sauvigon Blanc to pair with the salty-sweet corn bread!)

Really glad I stumbled upon this place on the internet. I don't know how this isn't bigger in Portland. And it's only $105.

scallop with pickled green strawberry and apple, borage flower, lovage leaf, frozen hollandaise

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hamachi with squash, nasturtium, granola in curried yogurt

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squid and peppers with squid ink squid chips and anise hyssop in hazelnut romesco sauce

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cherry wood smoked sturgeon, pickled onion, dried morel, potatoes in bone marrow broth

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poached breaded and fried sweetbreads, tomato, artichoke, marigold leaves, garlic chips in a brown butter artichoke sauce

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beef brisket, cherries, and dried olive

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corn bread madeline with lardo, parmesan, and honey comb

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yogurt and honey

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lavender cream with blueberries

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We unfortunately had to cancel our reservation at Holdfast so that we could attend MusicFest NW with my brother as part of my sister-in-law's birthday gift. But that was a good decision. I'm not a music festival fan in general, but this was well done, and Iggy Pop put on an incredible performance. He's still rocking out shirtless at age 70. 

Pok Pok NW - I actually ate here twice, once for lunch and once for dinner. I'm not sure if it's just that incredibly high quality Thai food has become more common or not, but I wasn't as impressed by this location as I was by the original. It does take reservations, which is a nice feature, and it's still good. It just didn't absolutely blow me away like my first few meals at the original location. 

Green Room - Great cocktail bar, located right next to the Multnomah Whiskey Library. 

Kenny and Zuke's - I really enjoy this place for breakfast. The pastrami hash did its job extremely well, fueling me up for my ten hours of standing in a field watching music. 

Raven and Rose - I don't typically stay in this part of town, but we did this time. Raven and Rose has fantastic cocktails, and I love the upstairs bar space. 

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On 6/29/2017 at 4:43 PM, Anna Blume said:

Salt & Caramel June's flavors conformed to recent trend of using vegetal parts normally tossed [on compost piles in this city]: celery root and strawberry leaf jam is an example. Crystal fragments in the ice creams I tried.

Blue Star Donuts  Blueberry bourbon. No room for the Mexican Chocolate cake donut and they were out of the buttermilk.

Hahahaha yes to the incorporation of compost being SO PORTLAND! Salt and Straw's June flavor's were camping-related.  There was a mushroom-based (really! And you could taste them!) ice cream and one with spruce tips and huckleberries.  Interesting to taste, but I went with a flight ($9) of sea salt w/ caramel, almost brittle, lavender & honey, and strawberry & basalmic vinegar. All good, interesting, etc., but honestly I wasn't blown away like the first few times I've been, many, many moons ago.  Something about the texture, though the depth of flavor is impressive.  Maybe it was the (relatively manageable) line or that they were out of the coffee/chocolate, or just that high-fat ice cream in artisanal flavors is much more prevalent than before.  Go if you can avoid a crazy line, but I'd bet that you could get a similar experience at one of the many other ice cream shops.

At Blue Star I got an OG original and chocolate bergamot cake to take home, and the verdict was that both were excellent but perhaps not quite worth $3 and $4 apiece. 

More to come on other trip highlights but I wanted to note that the Alder & 10th street food cart pod is slated for destruction!!!!  Their last day is June 30th, and a big building is going up in its place.  When I passed by last week most of the tenants were still there, but only a few had signs updating costumers about new locations.  Hopefully something can be done to relocate the bulk of the group but either way, it's the end of a Portland era.

Also, the Washington Square mall in the 'burbs seems to be indicating a greater Chinese (at least food!) presence in the area, as they have a Din Tai Fung, an almost-built 85 degrees bakery, and a Taiwanese bubble tea shop slated to come.

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Papa Hadyn in east Portland. Buttery, cheesy (brioche is grilled with butter and parmesan) decadence in the form of a croque monsieur with cucumber salad.  The cucumbers were a better choice than the plain salad, but I do wish that the dressing had more dijon bite, or a vinaigrette dressing to better counterbalance the sandwich. The main was HEAVY but good but the star of the place is dessert - so many gorgeous cakes and pastries to choose from!  Every desert brought out was head-turn worthy pretty. Our mint chocolate cake slice was moist and delicate, yet rich with chocolate and mint flavor, with fun crunchy accents.  Worth the splurge. Also, this location has a lovely outdoor garden patio seating area.  The flowers were in full bloom, the hedge protected from most traffic noises/smells, and the umbrellas kept us cool on a sunny day.  It was not exactly what I'd choose for myself but a wonderful pampering experience of a business lunch!!

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Hat Yai, the new Belmont location. The Hat Yai combo with puffy, stretchy roti, thick and darkly flavorful curry, crispy/juicy/tasty fried chicken, including an extra wing, ordinary sticky rice, and various pickly/saucy elements. The food is absolutely divine if you are into SE Asian flavors, the vibe is a bit overly trendy, young, and shiny new, and the tall stools are deeply uncomfortable (hard, weird height). I almost went to the other location to have the same meal again the next day but ran out of time.


Chicken rice at Nong's Khao Man Gai.  It's sad that the original and other carts are gone, but they have two teeny restaurants serving, theoretically, the same food.  While this was pretty and yummy and I was happy have this dish again, it didn't blow me away like the dish I remembered (I've had it twice from the original cart, years ago).  The soup is blander, with no pickled taste.  The sauce is fiery sweet but not...hmmm...life changing, which is kind of how I felt the first time I took a bite. It was nice.  It's a PDX institution.  But for my $ and calories, I'd go to Hat Yai every time unless I was feeling like I needed a cleansing meal.

Finally, no pics but I went to the Din Tai Fung location at the Washington Square mall.  It was a rather long line for a weeknight but a lot of fun per usual.  Pork XLB are still delicious and perfect, and the vegetable dumplings are good for vegetable dumplings if you must, but the brand-new fish dumplings were not a dish that I'd order again.  I had to try them in my quest for the West Coast version of China Bistro's sliced fish dumplings, but the mushy filling is overly fishy yet not particularly flavorful (I did ask in advance and knew it was not a sliced fish filling).  Meh.

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We ate well...and too much.  The two trip gems were Jacqueline and Berlu.  

Jacqueline is a lovely seafood place with a very lightly applied Steve Zissou theme.  Good (fresh, well shucked) dollar oysters during happy hour (limited to 1 dozen per person).  Good drinks, good vibe and service, really really good seafood at a good price with nice preps,  and large-ish menu.  It's so good that we went there twice in 2 days, even though we had tasting menus booked on both days (Roe and Berlu).

Berlu is a fantastic experience and great value right now.  Each of the 8 courses was at least as good as the best dishes at Willows Inn (which I admittedly was very disappointed with, especially at the current price point).  The closest East Coast comparable I can think of is Laurel in Philly, though the presentation is more Nordic.  It reminds me a lot of my 2 favorite Parisien restaurants, Sola and Restaurant David Toutain.  Though there is a lot more chef participation since they cook and prep in front of us and talks to us about the food.  Go, it's good.

Other places we mostly really enjoyed too, from my most to least favorite.

Maurice - I really really like it here.  It's a beautifully lit casual space and feels just perfect.  The food is also very good though not technically as good as some of the places below.

Ataula - we were considering staying away because why pinxto outside of Basque country, but the dishes here turned out really nice, nicer and more crisply executed than most pinxto encountered around Donostia.

Roe - still perfectly executed and we like the new space it's in.  Only nit was wish for 1-2 more courses of shellfish rather than fin fish.  We're not cooked fin fish people but we still really liked the 3 cooked fin fish courses we got.  This place is solidly wonderful.

Olympia Oyster Bar - the oyster selection was a bit misleading, the website made it look like they have over a dozen varieties, but they actually only have 6.  But they were pristine, albeit weirdly not slurpable because the bottom abductor muscle is not cut.  The other dishes we ordered were very good too.

Gumba - okay, we tried 3 bites each of 2 pastas and they were quite good. The portion was generous and no wait for us on Thursday night.  They're definitely much better than the surprisingly mediocre Il Corvo pastas, but I wouldn't say it's life changing pasta as opposed to very solid and well prepared pasta that tasted good and filled you up.

Little Bird - the menu is a bit truncated for my taste.  But everything we ordered was pretty darn good.  Just not clearly superior as the establishments above.

Eem - the BBQ fried rice (where's the smoke and bark?) and the Serious Eats touted pina coladas (sour and mild?) were busts, totally different flavor profile from what I'd look for in each.  The spicy chicken and lamb mussaman curry, on the other hand, were really really good.  Overall, I wouldn't wait in a long line here and remember enjoying Pok Pok much more.  

Hai Yat Belmont - I actually didn't love the spicy chicken here, though I thought the mushroom curry we ordered was delicious.  Eem's chicken (and Bantam 46 in Bellingham, from the same overall trip) were better in my estimation.

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