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Quick weekend in Portland 12/15-12/17/06


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Hi,

I'm heading south from Vancouver BC to Portland for a weekend. My sweetheart is meeting up with some of his friends and I'm planning on wandering around and eating as much as possible (with or without them)

I've booked a table for 2 at Andina for Friday night.

Saturday I'm planning on going to the Farmer's Market and wandering around the Pearl district - any good lunch spots?

Dinner - no idea, the guys are going to Kell's and I admit I'm not that excited about it.

Sunday breakfast - I was thinking Simpatica but... open to suggestions.

Thank you!

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Just a quick response before I head out the door. For breakfast, I recommend Le Pigeon. Tres trendy, but really good and full of homemade (not store-bought or interior-designed) character. Dinner/lunch options . . . check out the tip sheet at www.extramsg.com. I've got a few personal favorites, but his list is invaluable. Gotta run . . .

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Concerning the farmers market, if you're coming this weekend, 12/16, then you'll be fine. But I believe this is the last weekend of the market for the season.

There are plenty of good restaurants in the Pearl and environs. Bluehour and Park Kitchen come immediately to mind. But yes, check other websites and sources such as extramsg.

Check out our Fooddoings and more at A View from Eastmoreland
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If you like pasta, we've become quite fond of a place called Pastini. It's got four locations in Portland (we eat at the one on SE Division across from New Seasons.) The food is incredible, and every time we've eaten there so far we've gotten our meal lightning quick. Just up the road at about 34th and Division is Pix Patisserie, which has beautiful desserts and sandwiches, as well as homemade ice cream.

A friend of mine has eaten at Carafe, a bistro downtown, and loved it. (We're going there New Years' Eve for their five-course foie tasting.) I haven't eaten there yet but I've looked at their menu online and it looks awesome.

If you want to try something that's likely to be new (not wanting to make any assumptions), Lung Ta is a Tibetan restaurant on NE Sandy at about 42nd. Very stick-to-your-ribs, not highly spiced. It's wonderful stuff. I especially recommend the beef shah momo (dumplings), steamed bread, and lamb curry.

"d00d where r u???"

"im in ur kichen cookin ur f00dz!"

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You ask a big question. The subject of Portland dining is extremly varied. Again, I recommend www.extramsg.com's tip sheet. But here is my own very fast take on personal favorites (not in any order; you can find their contact info on the web and extramsg's tip sheet. And I need to say, because of what I do for a living, that some . . .I think manybe two . . . of these restauranrts advertise in my magazine. The others do not, and it doesn't matter because I'll recommend anyone I think is good, regardless.):

NOSTRANA. I have a thing for chef Cathy Whims' food: I can't get enough of it. This is where I go with business, family, and friends for lunch (dinner is perfect, too). Italian food (big wood-burning oven). This was The Oregonian's restaurant of the year, and Cathy was a delegate to the SLow Foods Terra Madre. Informal. Lovely.

PALEY'S PLACE. The spot for a blowout gourmet treat. Vitaly Paley is a whizz with local ingredients. James Beard Winner, his menu is seasonal and everything is a winner as well. Not inexpensive, but one of the best in the Northwest from a chef who really knows his stuff. Dining here is a craft (and the staff is the best in town).

ANDINA. Peruvian, brilliant flavors, unusual combinations, unique experience. Not cheap, but raucous, wonderful, and satisfyingly different - - a real treat.

WILDWOOD. A Portland classic. New Executive Chef Dustin Clark was handpicked by founding chef Cory Schreiber, and the ethic and vibe are fully sustained. Local ingredients, superbly cooked (had lunch there today and the house-cured pastrami was excellent), great NW wine list. Tell Sommellier Randy Goodman hello!

OLEA. Lots of national press, excellent menu, reliable and satisfying in the cool Pearl district. Meditteranean meets the Northwest, with some intriguing twists that are very tasty.

ten01. Very new, intriguing menu mixes multiple food ethnicities, great raw bar, cool atmosphere (and across the street from Powell's back door . . . how good can it get?)

ALBERTA STREET OYSTER BAR. Wonderfully inventive flavor combinations on the menu. Way more than just oysters. Finely crafted food, a bit funky on the decor, but great and creative food that feels like it was crafted with love. I like this place a lot.

23 HOYT. New, from a proven Portland chef and restaurateur. Solid, if standard, menu, but impeccably prepared food: European style with Northwest attitude. I rarelty order a steak, but their was the best I've had in I can't remember when.

HURLEY'S. Expensive, really, rerally good, haute cuisine unlike anywhere else in Portland. SOme of the best dining I've had, but also some of the molst expensive in town. Tom is a perfectionist, and his food is superb . . . but isn't everybody's idea of "value" (small plates, intense and balanced flavors, high prices).

MURATA. Sushi. Here. Yes. Enough.

POK POK/WHISKEY SODA LOUNGE: Best Thai I've had in the Northwest . . . in the nighborhoods, casual, busy, unpretentious, righteously good and strong flavors. Thai one on here!

VINDALHO. Local chef David Machado's take on Indian-ish flavors and cuisines. I love the dishes here, and while it has an urban chicness, there's no pretension . . . but you need to like the spicy flavors set (I sure do).

HIGGINS. Another absolute standby. I stop into the more informal cafe side regularly. The best burger (that's a sad word to describe it) in town, but fantastic Alsatian-and-true-Northwest foods . . . plus the best beer list in town.

ELENIS PHILOXENIA. Doesn't get the great foodie buzz, but this is serious Greek-style food (as opposed to the more popular let's-all-shout-Opa-style places) well executed by people who know their stuff. Well worth a stop if you want to sample this cooking style. The original is in another location and lsightly different name. I haven't been to that onem, but I hear it may be better.

YA HALA. Extremely popular and extremely good Lebanese food, Great for vegetarians, but great for anyone. I loved the food here (but the dinner wait was long . . . yet you can sepnd the time at the neighboring international grocery.

LUCY'S TABLE. A Portland standby, and with good reason. Excellently prepared foods by a chef who doesn't get the buzz he should (some local foodies scoff at this "traditional" restaurant, but that is their loss).

MINGO CAFE. Great Italian, prepared with love and without the schtick . . . but popular and small tables are a tad inconvenient. Don't fret, adjacent TUSCANY GRILL is Italian and slightly more rustic in character, and adjacent SERRATO is Italian and slightly more highborw. All are good, but the vibve at Mingo is just right for the spot on food.

CLARKLEWIS. Was there last week and despite the turnover of chefs the food was excellent . . . I saw no loss. Local ingredients and simple preparations are emphasized, and dishes can be ordered in different sizes. If you are over 47 years old, take a mini flashlight to read the menu. The 2005 Brick House Select Pinot was superb.

FENOIUL. The see-and-be-seen hotspot with major dude French food that is extremely well prepared. Busy and buzzy, I still find the dishes to be superb despite the popularity, and I jump at the chance to go anytime.

SINJU. Excellent Japanese in a stylish manner. Great sake menu (oh, you don't think you like sake do you, then try a chilled junmai daiginjo in a wine glass for a revelation).

WONG'S KING. On Division . . . out there a bit. Authentic--you may be the only only non-Chinese--and a little difficult to order unless you know a lot about the cuisine. Fresh ingredients. Perhaps a little variable, but maybe the best Chinese in Portland (though you could do way better in Vancouver BC or San Francisco). Stop in the adjacent "deli" for a slice of what I call Dried Hanging Pig . . .

CASTANGA. The Cafe is informal and with good food. The main dining room is more formal and with superb food. A place to linger either way. Very solid and reliable.

CARAFE. Fine French food in a rfeal Parisian bistro atmosphere. Never had anythiung less than excellent. Chef Pascal Sauton does it right.

Oh, where do I stop? There's also THE HEATHMAN, PAZZO, EL GAUCHO (if you want a steakhosue steak, this is Portland's best . . .why go to Mortons or Ruths Whatever when you can go to a Northwest-owned-and-better steakhouse . . . if you want to go to a steakhouse, that is.) There's also ALBA OSTERIA, ROUX, GENOA, ESPAZA'S, PARK KITCHEN, CARLYLE . . .

I could go on. But I won't. I know I'm forgetting somone. But if something here sounds good, go look them up on the web and try them. I'm out of steam. Bye.

Cole

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Cole gives a great list. Here's a direct link to my tipsheet:

http://www.extramsg.com/uploaded_misc/portland_tipsheet.html

Andina is a good choice. I would do this:

FRIDAY

Dinner: Andina

SATURDAY

Breakfast: Ken's Artisan Bakery or Pearl Bakery

Lunch: Wildwood or Fenouil (more local, more interesting vs beautiful place with good fancy food)

Dinner: Le Pigeon or Wildwood (cheaper, more offal, more casual vs fancier, more local, more expensive)

SUNDAY

breakfast: Simpatica

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The only place I mananged to get to in Portland last summer was Simpatica. I enjoyed it, and would go again. I also ate somewhere in the Pearl District called Daily News or Daily Cafe. It was not very interesting food, but for what it was (sandwiches, salads, soups) it was quite good.

I did have take-out from Pastini, and personally did not care for it. It was overcooked and tasteless--all 4 types that we had (something with bolognese, seafood, mac & cheese, and I think an alfredo). And it was, in my opinion, really not so much better than Olive Garden. That being said, it was ordered for a large party, and I do realize that food often suffers when cooked in large quantities and transported some distance.

There are so many other intersting places in Portland, though, I wouldn't even bother trying it in house were I to visit Portland again.

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Oooh, we'll have to check out Wong's King. Ever since our favorite place (in which we were often the only non-Chinese) got taken over by Hung Far Low, we've been missing the good stuff. They had an awesome shredded duck soup there that my son still reminisces over. We've been going down to Woodstock to Wong's Garden, which is good, but much closer to the usual standard Chinese-for-Americans fare.

"d00d where r u???"

"im in ur kichen cookin ur f00dz!"

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I did have take-out from Pastini, and personally did not care for it.  It was overcooked and tasteless--all 4 types that we had (something with bolognese, seafood, mac & cheese, and I think an alfredo).  And it was, in my opinion, really not so much better than Olive Garden.  That being said, it was ordered for a large party, and I do realize that food often suffers when cooked in large quantities and transported some distance.

Interesting! We really enjoyed it, but like you said, the distance and quantity could have been a factor, as well as just a difference of individual taste. Which Pastini did you go to, if I could ask? Even that might make a difference in the quality of the food. I love their capellini pomodoro - freshly cut tomatoes and big hunks of garlic, but it is admittedly a much lighter sauce of that type than I've gotten elsewhere.

"d00d where r u???"

"im in ur kichen cookin ur f00dz!"

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Interesting! We really enjoyed it, but like you said, the distance and quantity could have been a factor, as well as just a difference of individual taste. Which Pastini did you go to, if I could ask? Even that might make a difference in the quality of the food. I love their capellini pomodoro - freshly cut tomatoes and big hunks of garlic, but it is admittedly a much lighter sauce of that type than I've gotten elsewhere.

I didn't actually go, but I think it was ordered from the one at Bridgeport Village and it traveled to Beaverton (plus we waited another half hour or so before we could actually eat.

My mother did eat at the Bridgeport Village branch once, and she also thought the food was tasteless. It really did seem like Olive Garden with slightly more ambition. The food was pretty popular with the rest of the crowd, though.

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I would check out Fenouil in the Pearl. We had a very yummy lunch there this past summer, it is very elegant inside and the food was very good. We have enjoyed nice meals at Paley's Place, Wildwood, Park Kitchen, clarklewis, Higgins, Bluehour and Silk (Formerly Pho Van Bistro.)

Our dinner last summer at the Heathman Hotel was excellent as was our brunch the next morning. You may also want to consider Hurley's for a nice dinner in Portland. My son will be eating his way around Portland soon!

There is also a place called Lovely Hula Hands that has recently moved into a new building, we haven't tried it yet but I have heard good things from those who have. Happy Holidays! :cool:

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Although probably too late for our original poster, one note about clarklewis. We stopped in last week for lunch and a glass of wine. However, because there's new ownership, they haven't got their liquor license in place yet. If this is an issue for you, I'd recommend calling for status before you go.

Check out our Fooddoings and more at A View from Eastmoreland
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  • 4 weeks later...

Thanks for all the great recommendations!

We ended doing dinner at Andina (I don't know, something about seeing his friends being more important than trying new restaurants? :raz: ) but it was amazing. While I didn't necessarily Love everything we ordered (I admit the Yuca Rellenos is not my thing) we did enjoy trying out new and different things and we pretty much loved everything else.

My partner had the very traditional lamb, fall off the bone tender and delicious. I tried the slightly more nouveau sea bass in broth - perfect after a long, cold drive.

Later that Friday night we made it down to Pix for dessert (introduced a couple of locals to it who normally frequent Papa Haydn's).

Saturday I was joined by a friend from Tacoma and we spent the day exploring the Farmer's Market and the, uhhh, yarn stores in the downtown area.

The quality at the Farmer's Market was really high and I contemplated trying to get some produce back across the border but settled for shopping selectively and planned on eating everything before Sunday night. I did OK all things considered.

Bread from the Pearl bakery & Pate from Viande for driving food on Sunday night

Dulcet mustards and dressings and nuts (I think I was particularly hungry when we stopped at this booth)

Tarts - frangipani & rustic apple (road food dessert) and a savoury butternut/bacon for my Saturday dinner

Ginger Rhubarb Jam

Wasabi Oil/Balsamic Vinegar dipping combo.

Chocolate covered cherries for friends at home.

Herb rub

No cheese (this was the hardest part) except for a tiny, tiny bit of Cheddar to go with some beautiful apples.

We're planning a return trip and hopefully we'll be able to stay for longer and enjoy the city a bit more (Eat More!)

Thanks!

:wub:

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