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Portland recs?


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Looks like I'm definitely going to be in Portland this weekend. I was looking over some of the older threads and jotted down a list. Can you tell me which ones are no longer good, and which are must do's? Thanks a bunch!

Most of these I saw on ExtraMSG's site. Thanks a lot for the pics and the grades. Those really helped a lot.

Gelato:

Mio Gelato or Staccato Gelato?

Breakfasts/Bakeries:

Original Pancake House or Mama's Corner Cafe?

Ken's Artisan (definitely going here)

St. Honore (saw those pics on ExtraMSG's site!) or Pix Patisserie for French style?

Lunch:

Higgins (I wanna try the burgers)

Wildwood (because Dixon said it was great food, great deal, burger)

High End Portland:

Caprial's Cafe

Wildwood

Paley's Place?

I'm definitely going to Bewon. By the way, here's the link to the real Biwon, forbidden garden of the kings.

Also, I am going to have to go to Hung Far Low so I can take a pic of me in there.

I wanted to try other things, but looks like we'll be pressed for time. Oh well. Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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Haven't been to Mio, but I do like Staccato Gelato (and they're at both the Wed and Fri farmers market downtown. Ken's over St Honore (Ken makes the best croissant this side of the Atlantic...I've heard that St Honore doesn't make the ones they sell)' Park Kitchen, the Gotham Coffee Shop, or the Higgins burger for lunch (only served in the bar); and clarklewis for dinner...if you only go to one restaurant, make it clarklewis (lunch on weekdays, too). But make a reservation now.

I'll also be at the farmers market Sat, 8/7, which is the annual bread festival (aka Summer Loaf), so come early if you don't like crowds.

Jim

olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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I'll second Jim on Ken's over St. Honore. I don't really get why St Honore is popular. Ken's breads and pastries are much better and so are Pearl's.

My top choices for a meal in Portland would be Castagna, Park Kitchen, or Clarklewis.

Rodney

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Gelato:

Mio Gelato or Staccato Gelato?

Depends. Staccato probably has more interesting flavors on occasion, but Mio probably has better texture and all the standards. Staccato is now selling at the Portland Farmer's Market, though, which is nice. (Including Saturdays. I've also seen them driving around little bikes with the stuff.)

Breakfasts/Bakeries:

Original Pancake House or Mama's Corner Cafe?

Ken's Artisan (definitely going here)

St. Honore (saw those pics on ExtraMSG's site!) or Pix Patisserie for French style?

I don't really like breakfast, so I'll let someone else go there. Although, on Sunday, Daily Cafe in Pearl has a fixed price brunch that was excellent, even to me.

If you have a car, or even if you don't, I'd recommend hitting Ken's, St. Honore, and Pearl. Basically they're enough different that each has their advantage. St. Honore is better for French breads and a wider selection of pastries. Ken's emphasis is on sourdough. Pearl does Italian breads. They're all within NW Portland, with Pearl being in the Pearl, near Powell's, and Ken's and St. Honore being up in Nob Hill on opposite ends of the area. You can get to all three by Streetcar, but it'd be about 10 blocks to Ken's and a few less to St. Honore (each in the opposite direction of each other). If you want to work off some calories, though, it's an interesting walk down 21st to Burnside up to 23rd then over to Thurman and down to 21st again and back. Well, some of it is less interesting. But there are markets, boutiques, restaurants, music stores, etc, along the way. I used to work in that part of town and I often took really long lunches walking around there. The blocks aren't big and there isn't much up and down. Some highlights:

Restaurants: Wildwood, Paley's, Papa Haydn (dessert case only), St. Honore, Ken's, the four restaurants of the Italian apocalypse (Serrato, Mingo, Tuscany Grill, and Basta's), etc.

City Market NW: a collective with: pastaworks, selling cheese, salumi, produce, and wine; Newman's Fish Market, selling fresh shellfish and quality fish; Viande's, selling meats, both prepared and uncooked.

Movie Theater: Cinema 21, an arthouse theater

Music Store: Music Millenium

Too many little shops to mention

High End Portland:

Caprial's Cafe

Wildwood

Paley's Place?

I think Caprial's and Wildwood uniquely speak of Portland better than most high end dining. Though that's not to say they're necessarily the best in town. Although each are among my favorites. (Although my last meal at Caprial's was executed poorly.) Paley's is in some ways superior to each. They definitely have better service and the space is cozier. Wildwood has some serious detractors, too. Do a search on Chowhound.com to see people's complaints.

Other fine dining to consider:

* Hurley's: upscale small plates. Try the savory flan.

* Park Kitchen: midscale place with interesting local dishes

* clarklewis: very much the trend in PDX, get anything small, normal, or family

* Bluehour: Portland chic, but with quality dishes

I'm definitely going to Bewon.

Make sure you go for dinner and get the fixed price meal. The place is exponentially better that way.

A few other things to consider:

* Split a snack of falafel from Karam in downtown

* Banana blossom salad from Pho Van Bistro

* A trip out to Tortilleria y Tienda de Leon for guisados (I'll drive!)

* Khao soi from Sukhothai

* Po pia sod from Cha Ba Thai

* Try some cheeses at Pastaworks

* LOW's lamb ribs at the Portland Farmer's Market (and some brisket)

* Pambiche for Cuban and a fabulous dessert case

* Dessert spring rolls from Saucebox

* Mother's Bistro white chocolate banana bread pudding

* Korean meatballs at Chinese Delicacy

* Jerky from Gartner's Meats

* Whatever fruit is fresh at New Seasons

* Nuestra Cocina or Taqueria Nueve for regional Mexican

* Pix for desserts that finally earn the word "decadent"

* Esparza's for chips, salsa, and bbq pork nachos

* Andina for ceviche and their free rolls

Oh wait, you wanted to narrow your choices. I guess it's good I didn't get into the suburbs. :wink:

Edited by ExtraMSG (log)
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i was just in portland last weekend.

ditto on the clarklewis front. shockingly good. a smart concept what with the multiple permutations of each dish, i.e. small/large/family portions. we ate on a monday and had no problem getting a reservation a day or two beforehand. but that could be because it WAS a monday. go for the 'chef will cook for you' approach. for $30/person it'll knock your socks right off. it's a mindblowing bargain. refreshing to have a warehouse space that actually works. though it was claustrophobic due to the extreme heatwave that roared through the city.

bewon. oh yes!

pambiche has a stellar happy hour menu between 2 and 6:30pm. oodles of things are $2.50. grab a bench table outside and a palm beach cooler, and eat your brains out. cuban's so near impossible to find here in sf. everything was delicious, plus they've got all sorts of relatively unusual dishes like frituras and ajiaco criollo.

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Here's my 2 cents.

Staccato has more interesting flavors, but the texture is not as good and she makes it too sweet and serves it too cold for my tastes. The marionberry was pretty good the other day. Mio has a great texture and on a good day they serve it at the right temp. Some of his flavors are great (raspberry and pistachio) some suffer from adding some kind of flavoring agent that masks the natural taste of the fruit (the melon flavors and grapefruit). That bugs me. Bottom line is that if I was near either and the weather was hot, I'd go to either. I think it all depends on what neighborhood you're in at the time. I like taking a brioche bun from Ken, having him cut in half and then getting it stuffed with gelati from Staccato at the farmer's market. Traditional Sicilian breakfast, and very tasty.

I think the stuff I've had from St. Honore stinks. I wouldn't go out of my way to go there or send someone there. Yeah, opinionated, that's me. Ken's country blonde rocks, his baguettes are great, and his croissants on a good day evoke memories of the ones I used to buy at Tassajara bakery before Just Desserts bought it and ruined it. I like munching on the canneles too. I always take out of towners to Pix, it's a fun place with very playful desserts. I find the desserts too sweet to have very often, but I'll usually drink a nice Belgian beer while they indulge. Hedge House, which is right next door, is a nice brew pub too.

The partner is a dedicated burger eater. He looks for a good meat, an appropriate bun (soft but substantial) and yummy fries (not really a part of the burger, but still...) His favorites have been the burger and fries at Cafe Castagna, the fries really are good and rumor has it they use some duck fat to fry them...whatever they're doing is good.... and the burger at the now defunct Buckman Bistro. Higgins has good meat, although a little dry (it's sirloin, when chuck is better for a burger) and great pickled vegetables, but it comes on a chewy crusty bun with a side of mesclun salad. In his (Greg's) defense, I don't think it's even listed as a burger on the menu. The bar always has a really nice selection of stuff on tap though.

For cheap and plentiful breakfasts we go to Fuller's downtown, the partner digs the American ambiance and 50's counters, and says getting four slices of bacon is a necessary cultural experience for a foreigner. For nicer breakfasts I like Henry's Cafe on Clinton, or Genie's on Division, but that's because they're near me and buy produce and eggs from people I like.

I've enjoyed my lunches at Wildwood, they have a pretty tasty fish and chips too.

If you go to the farmer's market, which I recommend, and you love chocolate, stop by Sahagun chocolates. Elizabeth makes some of the nicest chocolates I've tasted, and I'm not just saying that because I consider her a friend. I dream about that caramel one...seriously.

enjoy your stay,

trillium

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Ditto on the chocolates (Elizabeth is an eGer, too, as are the LOW boys -- chefrodrigo, above -- so you know they care about food). I very much appreciate that they're not over-sweetened, they have a great texture, and the flavors are noticeable, but not overpowering. Now that Lemiuex (sp?) left, they're probably the best truffle-like concoctions in town. Way better than a place like Moonstruck.

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Ditto on the chocolates (Elizabeth is an eGer, too, as are the LOW boys -- chefrodrigo, above -- so you know they care about food). I very much appreciate that they're not over-sweetened, they have a great texture, and the flavors are noticeable, but not overpowering. Now that Lemiuex (sp?) left, they're probably the best truffle-like concoctions in town. Way better than a place like Moonstruck.

Way, way better then Moonstruck.

And actually, I think they're better then the ones Paul Lemieux made, there is an intensity of flavor that his didn't really have, the flavorings seem matched to the chocolate very carefully.

regards,

trillium

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I think I do like the classic truffle, though, better than palets (sp?). More ganache and the ganache is more evenly distributed when you bite down. I'll take your word on which has better flavor, though. I never had the two close enough together to know.

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If you go to the farmer's market, which I recommend, and you love chocolate, stop by Sahagun chocolates. Elizabeth makes some of the nicest chocolates I've tasted, and I'm not just saying that because I consider her a friend. I dream about that caramel one...seriously.

I definitely love chocolate, so thanks for the rec. It didn't occur to me to ask you guys for chocolate for some weird reason.

What is the best place to get good cheese? Does Ken's sell cheese? I don't recall cheese in the pics, but that would be convenient.

Wow, I got a lot more than I bargained for. But I must say, Hung Far Low is still a top priority. :laugh:

On a side note, I always liked Caprial's show. I guess it was cheesy, but I do love cheese. She seemed like a nice person doing good things. Is she still on? Haven't seen that show in ages.

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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Cheese? Pastaworks, hands-down. See pics here:

http://www.extramsg.com/modules.php?set_al...=view_photo.php

And here:

http://www.extramsg.com/modules.php?set_al...lbum.php&page=3

The selection isn't going to impress like Cheese Board or the place at the Ferry Building, but in many ways I like it better. It's a manageable selection that changes and on average the cheeses are of higher quality, I think. There are a few mediocre domestics thrown in, but most domestics are top cheeses. And they let you try most everything, unlike Whole Foods or some of the other places that have good cheese selections. I do wish they'd carry a 4+ year aged gouda however.

Unless you were talking specifically about the PDX Farmer's Market. There, it would be either Rogue Creamery or Juniper Grove, imo. The Crater Lake Blue at the former and the chevre at the latter.

If you go through these two sets of pics, you'll probably see some examples:

http://www.extramsg.com/modules.php?set_al...=view_album.php

You can walk to Park Kitchen, Powell's, the Chinese Garden, and Pearl Bakery from Hung Far Low, at least. Get your picture and be off, I say.

Caprial has a show with her, also cheesy, husband, John. It's better since they got rid of the audience, but it's still not a good show.

Edited by ExtraMSG (log)
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I have to concur with everyone's replies about Mio Gelato and Staccato Gelato - I'd go for Mio Gelato for authenticity, hands down over Staccato Gelato. It's not that Staccato Gelato is bad, it's just that there are enough subtle nuances in the gelato carried by Mio Gelato that make it better, flavor and texture-wise. But Mio Gelato still is too thick/dense in texture for me - it still seems more like ice cream than gelato, if that makes sense.

We tried Bluehour last time we were down, and if you are just eating with one other person, don't get the caeser salad expecting it to be small. It's huge! But the desserts are quite good. We had black cherry profiteroles and I think chocolate mousse something. And we were at Wildwood three months before - good, but not knock-my-socks-off good - it was all too "clean". Very Northwest. I know that doesn't make sense, but Bluehour's food was better to me.

Ken's is definitely the place to go - the sandwiches are quite good, the macarons are amazing and the croissants are to die for. Please go the Portland Farmer's Market - it's a splendid one and you can get Rogue Creamery's Butter, and fish and lamb and flowers and black calla lily bulbs and beautiful heirloom cherries. And avoid Moonstruck - the quality has gone so downhill, it makes me sad. I wonder what happened to them? Ten years ago, they were awesome.

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skyflyer3, that description is appropriate, I think. The Northwest style is very "clean". clarklewis is even moreso. Either here or Chowhound, or maybe both, I've heard some complaints about the depth of flavor at clarklewis. Except in the winter with braises, I just don't think that's the northwest style. Many of the best things are often lighter, maybe more Mediterranean. Like light Spanish or Italian dishes.

Edited by ExtraMSG (log)
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Thanks so much for your recommendations and great comments! We had a great time, and it turns out that our host is a foodie type and I barely had to do any work this time! I have to admit, it's nice when I can just sit back, relax and let someone else do all the driving, choosing, and ordering. However, when I told our host about your recommendations, he was really happy to have some more places to try. :biggrin:

Unfortunately, I was forced to lend my camera to someone so no pics. :sad: Oh well. We'll definitely be back though.

First night:

Got some vanilla bean infused martinis at Brazen Bean. Happy hour special is $3 for a martini! I'm not much of a drinker, but I sucked down 1.5 of these in no time. I tried a straight martini, but retreated to my vanilla bean girl drink. It was like drinking vanilla scented lemonade. The pomegranate wasn't too bad.

We went to Caffe Mingo for dinner. Our host ordered the best gnocchi I've ever had, we also had the the haricot verts salad (great) and a really decent panna cotta, among other things. I actually liked the olive oil here. I'll have to call and ask what they use.

After that, it was bar hopping, starting at HUNG FAR LOW! Our host remarked that it was a less sleazy crowd than usual ("very fratty tonight"), and we ordered a couple of drinks, including the Hung Far Lowng Island. Strong, but not that great. We also ordered the crab puffs, which eventually resulted in a stomachache for one of us. I didn't eat them, but I did split one open and poked at the innards, looking for evidence of crab in the mayo filling. Didn't find any.

Tried the Cellar Bar and got good screwdrivers with fresh squeezed orange juice. We checked out Yur's, a cross between Denny's and a raucous pool hall. I forget what other bars we went.

Second day:

We went to Byways Cafe for breakfast. A kooky diner, they had some decent blueberry pancakes. I had the blue corn pancakes, which were pretty good with maple syrup and the pecan (honey?) butter ball that topped it.

We rode the trolley (free, and comes with live commentary!) to the Farmer's Market where I grabbed a bottle of the Leonforte 2003 harvest olive oil from the warm and friendly Jim Dixon and introduced myself. I didn't get a chance to try all the stuff I wanted to get, but it was still a pretty neat.

We went back to NW area, and packed a late lunch at Ken's Artisan Bakery. I think the breads are the best thing at this place, and I kept seeing their bread at restaurants we went to (luckily for me). We got some sandwiches to go, for our hike at Multnomah falls. Unfortunately, by the time we ate them, the sandwiches were smashed and stale. We still tried eating them. The lone cannelle I got as an afterthought fared the best, but it was only an okay cannelle. The croissant was not bad at all.

At Multnomah Falls, everyone walked around eating soft ice cream, but we held out for Mio Gelato's gelato. Whoever talked about the texture was so very right, extra creamy and rich. Small place, only like 20 flavors. I ate some other flavors but I kept going back to the hazelnut. Mango was artificially flavored. Plum was excellent.

We had dinner at Noble Rot. For the quality of the food, I couldn't believe the prices. $13 for an entree? The salmon crusted with cornmeal and pepper was great. They had a special, lobster mushrooms and spinach in phylo turnovers, which was good too. We had pinot noir flights for $17! One of them was excellent, (2nd one, name?). Hole played softly in the background.

We went to Holocene and I had an unremarkable screwdriver made with storebought orange juice. I wanted to go back to the Cellar Bar or the Brazen Bean. Afterwards, we ended up going to Savannah, a Caribbean (Jamaican?) restaurant, for what ended up being a second round of dinner. We had burnt shrimp on Uncle Ben type rice and some cold ribs that we had to send back to the microwave.

3rd day:

Had breakfast at a little crepe place that was a couple blocks from Bewon.

We went to a beach, Cape something or other. The weather was gorgeous and there were lots of people out there hanging out. It was glorious weekend weather.

On the way back from the beach, our host thought it would be a good idea to stop at a little general store and show us what the uh, backcountry is like. They had stuff like $.50 corndogs, puzzle books for the road, bait and tackle. We just got drinks. This store had a bunch of deer antlers and heads on the walls. When I inquired about them to the lady behind the counter, she claimed that her husband shot them all and had his friend, a taxidermist, stuff them. We got out of there pretty quickly. Didn't get a chance to have Tillamook ice cream even though it was 2 miles from the beach.

For dinner, our host took us to The Farm Cafe. The apps were good. I liked the ubiquitous sauteed goat cheese on greens app. The heirloom tomato plate was pretty good too. They had a good assortment of colors and flavors. We got more (Kens Artisan) bread to sop up the juices and portion out the goat cheese better. My entree (salmon) was bland though, as was the smoked gouda and broccoli with penne.

We went to Powell's Books and browsed the amazing selection. We then tried to go to Mio Gelato again, but it was closed. Then we tried to go to Southpark for dessert, but they had closed. Oh well.

4th morning:

We tried to go to Mother's for breakfast, but it was closed. We ended up going to Higgins for lunch (it was late in the morning) and all was good. Really enjoyed the oysters gratin, though it was small. I wanted the burger so badly, but I broke with tradition and got the pastrami, which was good, but no Langers Deli. I could kick myself for not getting the burger. The salmon over mashed potatoes was damn good.

More Mio Gelato and then back home, to the grind.

Thanks again. We had a great time in Portland and we'll definitely be coming back.

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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  • 3 weeks later...
This store had a bunch of deer antlers and heads on the walls. When I inquired about them to the lady behind the counter, she claimed that her husband shot them all and had his friend, a taxidermist, stuff them. We got out of there pretty quickly.

I enjoyed your rundown of your adventures in the Portland area but I'm curious about your experience at the general store. Apparently there was something about this woman's answer that caused you to be skeptical. Perhaps it was because she wouldn't make eye contact with you or was fidgeting. Perhaps it was because the idea of hunting was so foreign to you as to be unimaginable. Either way, it appears that this conjunction of facts made you nervous. Perhaps, being from Texas, I've been "inured" to the sight of dead animals on walls, but I can assure you that just because someone's a hunter doesn't mean they're going to make you "squeal like a pig" or don't like good, fresh food. After all, venison has to come from someplace, and the best place isn't your grocer's freezer.

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