Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Pdx Food Slides
Portland has smaller population than SF, but with almost as many great places to eat. Not only are there a high number of restaurants,they were consistently good. There's a homey soulfulness in the NW style of food. No hesitation to use bacon, butter or drink out of mason jars! My picks in order of preference:
Wildwood - decor seems sort of staid and out dated, but great service. The menu catches northwest cooking at it's best - seasonal ingredients prepared for heart eaters, sauces and other big flavors. If sf allows it's ingredients a delicate sonata, this cooking is sort of an Aaron Copeland composition, food I imagine a hungry chef would prepare for his family. Highlights, creamed morels with polenta gnocchi, fava puree accompanying halibut, milk braised pork shoulder, everything very flavorful and acting together rather than distinct nots delicately balanced. The cherry fennel hand pie was nice, but more impressive were the ice creams - one anise walnut, one candied cashews, very well balanced.
Nong's - second round of chicken rice this time I noticed the sauce loved it particularly the fragrant rice. The soup I had this time had cabbage and pork meatball and was not as salty, it was their first batch of the morning. They don't really get going until 10:30.
Podnah's BBQ - both the pork ribs and the friendly hospitality reminded me of my southern BBQ experience. Smoky and tender pork ribs were excellent with or without the sauces. The beef brisket was moist and tender and smokey, but lacked any other flavor and was a bit overseasoned. Sides were good and I appreciate honey on the table to go with the cornbread.
Whiffie Pies - a cart in the Cartopia pod in SE, specializing in fried handheld pies. I wasn't expecting much, but I loved this pie. The peanut butter and chocolate pie was crisp on the outside and beautifully flakey. There's no mistaking that this is a fully fried, it is rich, though not greasy. The molten peanut butter filling streaked with chocolate was well balanced and addictive. I had not intended to finish the whole pie, but it was gone before I knew it. I'd come back here to try one of their savory pies. It's simple straightforward comfort/junk food. Mounds pie, coconut cream w dark chocolate streaks, good crust, I pref the pbc.
Portland Farmers Market - ancient heritage dairy valentine great cheese. Also had a spicy sausage from one of the vendors, coffee pulled from coffee monkey a little bitter. Col... Bros - selling sweet or spicy sausages in the farmers mkt spicy one was delicious.
Ned Ludd - a cutesy Barn inspired decor in a nondescript strip of mlk between neighborhoods. There was something a little precious about the decor, but the food and service was very good. The hook is that everything is prepared in the wood fired oven. Charcuterie plate had bacon, pork rillete, pate di campagne, rabbit terrine, ham - good, L preferred it to OP. Little gem salad nice nuggets of bacon, but the buttermilk dressing was overly acidic. Peas and carrots w pistou ok fresh simple if a bit over seasoned, stuffed trout w lemon lots of dill, parsley and fennel, fragrant well balanced and good. The s'mores for dessert was well executed, good quality chocolate. Service was well meaning and nice, though they did drop the check on us.
Olympic Provisions - great charcuterie plate, fish served with a rich seafood sauce, and squid w rice overwhelmed by the salami in the dish too salty, fried cardoons well fried not greasy, nocino w vanilla good, espresso panna cotta good.
Tasty & Sons - cheese biscuit w egg and bacon, now this is the type of biscuit I love, light and airy, good bacon, also tried the sausage and polenta Ragu, which was essentially a sausage Ragu topped with cheesy polenta sever in a baking dish. I shudder to think about how much cheese was in that polenta. Would definitely return.
Ken's Artisan Pizza - Delfina-like crust blistered on top, but not much char or smokiness, really great tender chewiness to the crust and nice flavors. Enjoyed the tartness of the tomato sauce, high quality mozz, and calabrian peppers. All that was missing was a drizzle of olive oil to finish. Other items coming out of the oven looked great.
Gruner - downtown German food done with a lightness of hand in a modern environ. Spaetzle w chicken was nice toasted tender spaetzle lightly dressed in a mushroom thyme cream sauce with pieces of chicken, light and dark meat taken off the bone. Delicious and filling.
Spaetzle w chicken from Gruner
Evoe - This is a little eating counter next to a gourmet food shop. The food is prepped and cooked in front of you. Great selections on their menu. I'd lunch here often if I lived in PDX. Spring Onion Tortilla w Romesco nicely executed. Artichoke, Fennel & Guanciale nice combination.
Beast - great food even though its not really cooked a la minute. Every dish was a hit, no misses. The place and service is not as warm as welcoming as other PDX restaurants, there's definitely an attitude that you are lucky to have us serve you.
Paley's Place - Every dish was very good, with the bone marrow as a standout. The food was very rich and put L over the edge, but I thought it was an excellent French style NW food. A great place for a nice dinner with guests, warm welcoming professional service. Set inside a house almost across the street from Wildwood.
Bunk Sandwiches -a hole in the wall serving gourmet sandwiches. Lots of choices, I went for the roasted chicken salad w bacon and avocado and added some house marinated hot peppers. Very good sandwich served on a kaiser roll. I'm not a big fan of kaiser rolls, so that aside, it was very good moist chicken. Also had some creamy tomato soup which was not as good as the sandwich, it lacked balance, too tart, and was one note, not creamy. Still Bunk is worth returning to for a sandwich.
St Jacks Patisserie - could not resist the hot out of the oven ham and cheese croissant, delicious even though there were not as many interior layers as a traditional croissant. Roasted cherries with toasted pound cake and almond ice cream was delicious especially with the candied almond sprinkled on top. Service at lunch hour is painfully slow, though they are nice people. Would love to try dinner.
Toro Bravo - long wait, but ok to sit at the secret society bar next door. Comped goat cheese and bread nice. Duck liver mousse very good, salt cod fritters - ok, fried green tomatoes - no, spicy octopus and shrimp stew - ok, squid ink pasta - interesting lots of umami flavor, braised lamb w apricots and noodles - ok, jamon wrapped chicken - good jamon.
Coava Coffee - My favorite espresso in PDX. Great pull , super smooth, very focused menu. Loved it enough to have two caps. The yirga Jaffe was being dripped instead of poured. The drip isn't that good.
Barista NW - cap, using heart espresso delish. Also an interesting little neighborhood.
Spella Cafe - latte smooth, rich a nicely pulled drink.
Stumptown - nice light roast style.
Coffeehouse NW - cappuccino, nice service, pull was o.k.
Cheese Bar - nice people, great selection of cheeses. Good selection of beers.
Eurotrash - cart in the good food here pod. Fried anchovies nice crispy well executed.
Alder Pastry - nice pistachio ice cream, Earl grey peanut, cherry cacao, pbj, everything ok, gelato good.
Garden State - chickpea sandwich was good, not as crunchy as I imagined, but well seasoned with a bright aioli that brought it together, a dash of jalapeño vinegar and I was all set. I would be happy with this as a lunch, if I was nearby.
Eat Oysters - gorged ourselves on kumamotos. I liked the WA kumi's better than the Oregon ones, Hama hama's also good. Olympia's not very tasty. Good bloody mary's nice and spicy. Frog legs with comeback sauce, decent. Nice staff if a bit understaffed. Good for the bloodies and a snack.
Pok Pok - cool place really has the feel of a Thai food shack. Boar nice flavors, tart and spicy, Khao soi curry noodles w chicken just ok, duck larb over seasoned, whole fish stuffed w lemon grass nice, fish sauce wings far too sweet, clay pot Woon sen nice pork belly glass noodles a bit too sweet. Overall, the wings were not spicy enough, though the food was flavorful I felt that it didn't really speak to my palate.
Laurelhurst Market - 1:15 wait. Nice bar. Piedmontese flat iron tender though not med rare. Tapenade overwhelms beef flavor, short ribs were better. Nice duck confit salad. The wait is long because the staff and kitchen seem in no hurry to keep things moving along. I think the time from ordering to receiving food was about 40 mins - and that was for steak. I appreciate a laid back style, but I have my limits. Thank goodness for having good company.
Pine State Biscuits - nice traditional biscuits & gravy, biscuits are the substantial hearty style. Sausage gravy was fine, though I think I prefer the honey butter on plain. Def would not go out of my way for bfast here, let alone wait in a long line.
Pixie Patisserie - a few blocks from pok pok had an interesting blue cheese ice cream with chocolate, surprisingly well balanced and not overly sweet.
Ziba's Pitas - ok burek Bosnian style pita, not very flavorful or interesting.