Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

[PDX] Dinner for a group on short notice


Recommended Posts

At the end of March, HWOE will be in Portland for a conference of the American Society for Public Administration (government practitioners and academics). I hope to go with him. We're expecting to put together a group of unknown size to have a great meal. Help!

Here are the requirements:

  • Cheap to moderate prices
  • Within easy access of the DoubleTree Hotel
  • Food that people who keep kosher but still eat out in non-kosher restaurants could eat (this is a maybe)
  • Able to take a group of up to 10 or 12 people on fairly short notice, on either a Sunday or Monday night
  • Good wine list important to the 2 of us, maybe not to other folks.

It's been 10 years since I was in Portland, so I have no idea of any place other than Genoa (btw, might that work?).

(Also: if I go, I won't be "conferring" the whole time and would love to get together with some of you, if we can arrange it.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are two Doubletrees I know of. One is near the convention center in the Lloyd Center area of Portland and one is in Jantzen Beach, much farther away from downtown. Which one you're staying at will determine a lot.

Also, how close is close? Will you guys have cars at all? If not, at Jantzen Beach you're pretty much stuck with the immediate area. With Lloyd Center, you'll have the lightrail line, which is free in that area, to access most of downtown if you wish.

Finally, how cheap is cheap. NY and PDX have quite different relative scales. It's almost impossible to find an entree over $25 in Portland. 90% of restaurants don't have entrees regularly over $20.

I guess one more: how strict on the Kosher thing? You could certainly find dishes that were pork free and didn't mix milk with meat -- that sort of thing. But there are few places in Portland that are truly Kosher.

PS For Portland, this is not short notice. Short notice is the same week.

Edited by ExtraMSG (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jantzen Beach.

If I go, I will probably get a car, and others may have cars as well. There will also be some locals who might be available to transport (Multnomah County folks and Portland department people).

Sounds like cost is now a non-issue. :cool:

The couple of kosher-keeping guys I'm thinking of are fine with eating fish anyplace; they just won't eat anything with meat or poultry or forbidden seafood. At the last conference, we even ran into one of them at a Southeast Asian restaurant. Certified kosher is not necessary.

Thanks for your help in refining the search criteria.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Okay, to give you a sense of where you'll be then....

Jantzen Beach is on an island between the main part of the Columbia separating Washington and Oregon and NW Portland. You're along one of the two major interstates that run N-S and box in Portland, I-5. I-5 runs down through the middle of Portland along the Willamette River which separates East and West Portland, although the land area of West is much smaller than East. Downtown Portland is on the west side between the west hills (probably mountains by East Coast standards :wink:) and the river. Close-In East Portland is the area just on the east side of the river for about 30 or so blocks. Over the hills is Beaverton and Intel and Nike and lots of suburbs.

There isn't much north of you in downtown Vancouver, unfortunately (except a decent movie theatre). I used to work down there and it's all rather mediocre. Your best bet there would be Thai at Thai Orchid, which is decent, but nothing special. It's not a dive, though, rather pleasant inside. I guess next to the theater is a Rose's Deli, which is okay deli food, but probably not that great compared to what you're used to in NY. But I bet they have Kosher items. Something to especially keep in mind for lunches or quick dinners.

In Jantzen Beach itself, the best bets are Stanford's, a mid-range steak and wood oven/grill type place, BJ's, a deepish dish pizza and pub grub place that brews its own beer, and Newport Bay, a seafood restaurant. All three are local or regional chains and decent for what they do. At least, I consider them all a definite step up from chains like Friday's, Olive Garden, and Applebee's.

However, Jantzen is maybe 5 miles from downtown Portland and near-in east Portland. You could get anywhere in these two areas in about 10 minutes, probably. I think you'll be just missing the opening of the interstate Max line which would have allowed you to just take light rail from the Expo center one exit south of JB. But evening traffic will mostly be going the opposite direction you'll be going. And Portland traffic is nothing like NY traffic.

One thing you'll find is a lot of our restaurants don't seat that many people, however. A lot of our better restaurants have less than 20 tables.

You can look through the recommendations for Portland, almost everything is in your range that will have been suggested probably. You're probably don't want to wind your way to Sellwood or anything farther east than about NE or SE 30th. You also want to avoid Beaverton, Tigard, or Hillsboro, but you won't find to many recs for there.

I would highly, highly recommend Wildwood. It's in NW Portland (just north of downtown), one of our areas with the most decent restaurants and lots of funky and interesting nicer shops. They are the gold standard for NW cuisine in Portland. Until recently, my second choice would have been Cafe Azul, but they're gone now (sob, sob).

Otherwise, check out this list I recently made:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=34996

Good luck.

Edited by ExtraMSG (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

btw, there's a Zupan's, a local gourmet grocery chain, in Jantzen on the east side of I-5, that might be interesting to go to. They're not the best local gourmet grocery chain, that'd be New Seasons, but they're decent.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll definitely want to get together, guys. :biggrin:

Actually, by "last minute" I meant calling the day before or day of, since the group won't be put together until we're all there. But I do like to do my research ahead of time, lest I forget to do it at all. :raz:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If it's not a Friday or Saturday, you'll probably be okay. I imagine if they're booked they'll still try to fit you in. That's been my experience here in Portland. There aren't many restaurants here that can afford to turn away people.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

I'm back! as it's getting closer. We're arriving on Friday, 3/26 (plane supposed to land about 8pm) and will be leaving Wednesday morning, 3/31. Not sure yet what days HWOE may want to shepherd a group, but I'm looking at the posts here and on PortlandFood.org. This will be a mini-vacation for me, so other than Sunday morning, I'll be out and about. Any suggestions for sights to see (food or otherwise) will be gratefully accepted. It's been 10 years since I was last in Portland, so I imagine there must be more than Yamhill Market.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmm. I'd hit the Japanese and Chinese gardens. You can take the Max up to Washington Park, I think, where the Japanese Garden is, though I'm not sure how far the stop is (I'd probably just drive). The zoo and rose test gardens (which won't have roses this time of year) are up there.

Take a quick trip out to Multnomah Falls. It's only a half hour outside of town into the gorge. I'd really suggest making a loop of it by going to Multnomah Falls via the old scenic highway, cross the river at Bridge of the Gods in Cascade Locks, maybe stop at the dam first and see the big fishes at the dam and the hatchery, and then come back on the Washington side where you can see the gorge better. And if you go out that way on 84, either going there or coming back, take the 181st exit south to Glisan, take a right and go down to 162nd and eat at Tienda y Tortilleria de Leon. Mmm.

A day trip to the coast or mountain is always nice.

Forest Park is impressive (it's 4500 acres of mostly forest).

I think the Saturday Market has started up again. That's always worth some time. The Max goes right by it. You're close to Karam for excellent Lebanese food and Mother's for upscale comfort foods. If it's not too cold you could walk along the waterfront to Riverplace. There are little shops there and Lucere in the Riverplace Hotel offers some decent NW cuisine.

You should definitely go to Powell's, especially the Cooks and Gardeners store on Hawthorne. Pataworks is right next door and you can try the cheeses there and have a look at one of our small gourmet markets. There are lots of funky stores on Powell's if that's your thing, too. There's a used clothing store with velvet paintings of Elvis, dogs, and naked women, but I can't remember its name.

If you go to Powell's big store, hit Mio Gelato right across the street. You'd also be only a block or two from Pearl Bakery. This is the southern edge of the Pearl District which as several decent restaurants, some gourmet cooking shops like Sur La Table and our local In Good Taste, a Whole Foods, and lots of shops and art dealers.

From the Pearl you can take the Portland Streetcar to NW/Nob Hill where a lot of the best Portland restaurants are -- Wildwood, Paley's, Laslow's, Tuscany Grill, Hurley's, St. Honore Bakery, Ken's Artisan Bakery, etc. It's spread out primarily on two streets (21st and 23rd) over about 20 blocks and there are lots of little semi-high end shops throughout (and corners with 3 or more coffee shops on them). The dessert case at Papa Haydn can be fun. As can Moonstruck Chocolates.

An evening of casual small plates and wine might be enjoyable. SE 28th in Laurelhurst near Burnside has 3 wine bars/small plate places: Tabla, Noble Rot, and Navarre. They're all within a few blocks of each other on that street. Also on that street nearby are Esparza's Tex-Mex and Taqueria Nueve, both excellent. North just a bit is Pambiche, too, tasty Cuban food with an impressive dessert case reminiscent of Papa Haydn's but with tropical flavors.

There are several other neighborhoods with decent qualtiy food and nice little shops. You might like to see a New Seasons, one of our three local gourmet/natural chains along with Zupan's and Nature's (now converting to Wild Oats). You could explore based on a New Seasons location, really.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nick pretty much nails it on what to do - but wanted to add that Yamhill market is no more. Replaced by a real estate appraisal firm, a Bally's gym and various retail and foody places. But Portland offers so much more these days I don't think you will miss it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmm. I'd hit the Japanese and Chinese gardens. You can take the Max up to Washington Park, I think, where the Japanese Garden is, though I'm not sure how far the stop is (I'd probably just drive). The zoo and rose test gardens (which won't have roses this time of year) are up there.

Minor nitpick: The Max trains go within a block or two of the Chinese garden in Chinatown/Old Town. There is a Max stop at the Zoo (Washington Park), but the Japanese garden isn't within walking distance. I think there's a bus between the zoo and Japanese gardens though.

Of the two gardens, the Chinese Garden is probably world-class, largely due to the general scarcity of classical Chinese gardens. The Japanese garden is okay, but no competition for the Japanese garden in San Francisco.

I don't remember the Japanese garden having any food; the Chinese garden has food IIRC, but there are several decent dim sum restaurants in the neighborhood that would be a better bet if the timing is right.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow! Thanks, already. I read about the dinner at Karam and definitely want to try it, so it's great to know I'll be close.

Breweries :biggrin: Strip clubs :unsure: Giuliani :angry:

A question: how do you guys define "walking distance"? Because to me, that's anything up to a couple of miles, depending on the weather. Remember that where I come from, it's foolish to drive (pace Fat Guy :laugh:). I mean, if there are sidewalks, it's walkable. And maybe even if there aren't, so long as it's not all highway.

Edited by Suzanne F (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Of the two gardens, the Chinese Garden is probably world-class, largely due to the general scarcity of classical Chinese gardens. The Japanese garden is okay, but no competition for the Japanese garden in San Francisco.

I actually like ours better in many ways. SF's has a nice multilayer effect and some cool structures, but I think ours holds together better as a singular garden and I love the view.

A question: how do you guys define "walking distance"? Because to me, that's anything up to a couple of miles, depending on the weather. Remember that where I come from, it's foolish to drive (pace Fat Guy ). I mean, if there are sidewalks, it's walkable. And maybe even if there aren't, so long as it's not all highway.

I think you'll find our walking distance is closer to LA's conception (ie, non-existent) than NY's. Plus, it rains a lot here, or rather, often. However, the Zoo, Japanese Garden, Rose Test Garden, and Washington Park are on the side of a hill (mountain to you easterners), so it's a matter of adding in all the up and down, too. Our public transit is pretty good for a western city though.

Bus & Max (light rail) website: http://www.trimet.org/index.shtml

Streetcar website: http://www.portlandstreetcar.org/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Okay, you'll be at Jantzen Beach; that's roughly equivalent to saying that you'll land at Kennedy, and want to see NYC, even though the distance is smaller.

Jantzen Beach isn't especially close to Portland via mass transit, AFAIK. There is a Max (commuter train) from the airport to downtown, but I don't know about Jantzen Beach access to the train. (I commute on Max every work day, and am reasonably familiar with it).

Given your limited time, I think a car might be your best bet for exploration in Portland, even given the tragically limited parking downtown.

Once you're in the city (downtown), most restaurants are within a mile or two, but the city is divided by the Willamette (Wi'-lam'-ett, not Will-a-mett' river, and Oregon is Ory-gun, not Ora-gone, BTW) river, and although downtown is on the west side of the river, much of the funkier stuff is on the east side (Caprials' bistro, for example, if you happen to be PBS fans). Mass transit is good, but perhaps not as good as NYC if you want to pack the maximum experience into the minimum time.

You're unlikely to be mugged in Portland, but you might be panhandled, depending on where you go. (I guess I've just blown my chance for that job at the tourist board. :smile:)

Hope this helps, and feel free to ask for better advice. :smile:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden (right across from Reed College on SE 28th and Woodstock) is in full bloom right now. It's amazing, certainly more so than the Japanese Gardens. Another highlight is a mini-hike to the top of Mt. Tabor for a view of our beautiful city from the E. Side. You can easily walk from there down to Surabaya (good Indo-Dutch food) or the Sapphire Room (nice ambiance, yummy drinks, a few real winners on the menu). Trek a bit further down Hawthorne Ave. and you'll be able to eat at Three Doors Down or Bread and Ink Cafe, a true PDX institution.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Given your limited time, I think a car might be your best bet for exploration in Portland, even given the tragically limited parking downtown.

All good advice, but I have to point out that one person's "tragically limited" parking is another person's "can you believe how abundant and cheap the downtown parking is". This is of course, spoken from the view of someone who doesn't commute and need to be there the whole day, and was used to $20 for three hours in another city. Smart Park rocks for 3 hr visits (0.95/hr) and many shops will validate with a minimum purchase.

regards,

trillium

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was thinking the same thing, Trillium. Also, note that the Max is free within downtown and out across the river a couple stops. You can park at the Lloyd Center Mall, eg, walk two blocks to the Max and take it free to downtown.

I second the rhody garden (western azaleas). If you're in that area, you're close to a couple neighborhoods, Westmoreland/Sellwood and Woodstock, both of which have food options. (Caprial's, eg, one of my Portland favorites for fine dining is not far by car.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Food...

clarklewis...new and really, really good...the chef will do a family style dinner for you...contact me for an email address if you're interested

Ken's Artisan Bakery...probably one of the best bakeries in the country

28th Ave...Navarre, Noble Rot, and Tabla offer small plates and good wine within a few blocks

New Seasons...just to see what every supermarket should be like

Bastas...most underrated Italian in town...across the street from Ken's

ripe family supper...served in the catering kitchen, $20 + wine + tip + $5 dessert, openings on 3/27 (email me if interested, but hurry), one of the chefs was Mario's sous

Gotham coffee shop...same owners as ripe (and clarklewis), breakfast and lunch only

My Cahn...Portland has incredible Vietnamese food, and this is my favorite

Paley's...for upscale sit down NW food

Not food...

walk the Waterfront Park-Eastbank Esplanade loop for the best view of downtown and the river

drive the Columbia River Gorge-Hood River-Mt Hood loop, a full day, but amazing if the weather is clear...eat lunch in the dining room at Timberline Lodge (worth the trip alone) fo surprisingly good food

drive around Sauvie (locals insist on calling it Sauvie's) Island, walk on beach along Columbia (or stop by Kelley Point Park, a few minutes from Jantzen Beach, for beach and river)

have a local guide you through a few of Portland's older neighborhoods (Irvington, Laurelhurst, Ladd's Addition)

trillium is almost right about Smart Park...you get 4 hours for .95/hr in the city-owned garages...be sure the garage says Smart Park, though (several in downtown core, 2 on SW 4th alone)...meters downtown are free after 6, and if you drive around the block a few times you can find a spot...or park near Lloyd Center and take Max for free downtown

Jim

olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ken's Artisan Bakery...probably one of the best bakeries in the country

.....

My Cahn...Portland has incredible Vietnamese food, and this is my favorite

Hmmm. A friendly quibble....I would argue that Portland has acceptable Vietnamese food. I'm not sure I'd venture into the realm of incredible. It's good, but not that good. Take my opinion with a grain of salt, I think I'm pickier then Jim, I was underwhelmed with my lunch at Ripe (er..sorry Tommy if you read this...I want something done better then what I can do at home when I go out). I have no idea how things are in NYC, but this is certainly not the best American city I've eaten Vietnamese food in, nor the worst.

Ken makes some of the best bread I've eaten, anywhere, including across the pond. I ventured into pate and cornichon making because I knew I had the right bread to eat it with. The other stuff is mostly good (the canneles or the homier stuff like upside-down cakes) but some things (like the éclairs and croissants fer instance) are just not that great.

regards,

trillium

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...