Friday, January 21, 2011

Portlandia, Visit #2

My friend Leslie is a photographer. [website] A real good photographer. Though I might be biased. But I don't think so.

Leslie had to travel to Portland, OR, to do a photo shoot with the founder of Imbibe magazine, Karen Foley. And I am Leslie's TOP lighting assistant and free to travel as I please, so I joined her. We worked a total of two hours on a Saturday afternoon. So the remainder of our time together from Thursday afternoon through Tuesday morning was spent eating, drinking and vintage shopping our way through Portland. I actually arrived a couple days earlier to spend time with my friends Shelby and Russ who we stayed with.

Let me recap some of the great places we visited...with some of Leslie's photographs to illustrate...


Bagdad Theater & Pub: [website]
It was the BCS Championship Game between the Oregon Ducks and Auburn Tigers. I wasn't for either team but being in Oregon, I was caught up in Duck Fever for one night.

Bagdad is one of the McMenamin's in Portland. Therefore, we had beer and the cajun tater tots. While seated around one of the pool tables as real estate was at a premium for the night.

Going to a McMenamin's? Get the tater tots.


Tin Shed Garden Cafe: [website]
Today's brunch was provided by Tin Shed. I loved the menu: customizable for vegans and vegetarians. I love eating in Portland. I needed protein so I went with the basic two eggs over easy. But they came with some delicious vegan sausage, biscuit and potato pancake.

The setting is really casual. Get your own coffee. Delicious food.

"Hood to Coast": [website]
We went to the premiere of the documentary "Hood to Coast" at a local Regal. (Later in the week we got to a smaller local, non-franchise theater.)

The movie was well-done and inspirational for runners, like my novice self that is training for the Country Music half-marathon. It tells the story of the famed relay run from Mt. Hood outside Portland to the Pacific Coast, following four different teams. Check it out if you can.


The Dragonfly Coffee House: [Yelp]
Russ had a physical therapy appointment so Shelby and I visited The Dragonfly for our morning coffee and office time. Shelby swears by the honey & cardamom latte; I tried a sip and it was delicious. I normally only ever drink black coffee or an Americano but for some reason when I get to Portland, I have lattes, all the time. Maybe because baristas there know how to make them. So I tried the honey & almond latte; it was very good. And I needed a snack so I went with the gluten-free energy bar, which was an excellent choice.

The Dragonfly has pretty good seating options and the staff was friendly.

Piazza Italia: [website]
We did Italian for lunch in the Pearl District. It appeared to be a popular lunch spot among the businessmen crowd in the neighborhood. Fancy table settings with random decor. The vegetarian options were a bit limited as Italians like to add proscuitto and such to their pasta. I tried the penne with pesto and it was just OK.

Cool Moon Ice Cream: [website]
We decided we needed a sweet dessert after our lunch. At the end of the same block as Piazza was Cool Moon. They have handmade ice cream which include some unique flavors. I had the Kulfi flavor, which was pistachios and cardamom. Real good.


Pine State Biscuits: [website]
Leslie arrived! And with her a list of new food and drink and vintage shops. She consulted a "Best Of Portland" list before flying out and we knew we needed to try much of what was on that list.

We started with Pine State Biscuits. Leslie had seen the chicken biscuit on the website, walked right up to the counter and ordered it. She said it was a good as she imagined it to be.

The Regina at Pine State Biscuits
I went with The Regina, egg over easy with braised greens doused with Texas Pete Hot Sauce (pictured). An egg with hot sauce? Yes, please.

And they serve Stumptown coffee. There's limited seating so once you're finished eating, clear your plates and give someone else the chance to enjoy.

Pok Pok: [website]
This was a return visit for me. Shelby and I went to Pok Pok on my visit last March. But it was on Leslie's list and we loved it so much, we knew she had to go. We were anticipating a wait, which would mean a visit across to Whiskey Soda Lounge (we were OK with that). But there was no wait.

I had the Papaya Pok Pok, vegetarian style. A signature dish. It was hot! I like spicy but this about knocked me out. I couldn't even finish it. If I had a glass of milk or two, I could have eaten the whole dish. I also had the Salted Plum Vodka Collins. It was good but salty; consider yourself warned.

Noble Rot Wine Bar: [website]
Rather than do dessert at Pok Pok, we paid a visit to Noble Rot, which offered a nice view of downtown Portland.

We had to wait for a few minutes for a table but as we did so, we sampled a red wine flight to see what we might like to have with dessert. All I remember about the three wines is that I didn't really like any of them and ended up ordering a glass of the Peter Lehmann Shiraz, which I was very pleased with. I also ordered the Persimmon Butter Cake with plum puree. So good!


Coffeehouse Northwest: [Yelp]
Russ flew back into Portland around noon. As we drove to PDX to pick him up, we stopped at Coffeehouse Northwest (from Leslie's list) for a coffee. Again, I went with a latte and it did not disappoint.

Grilled Cheese Grill: [website]
The Grilled Cheese Grill is a food truck with a seating area in an old school bus. I think Leslie was looking more forward to this place than anything else on her list. And rightly so. Who doesn't love a grilled cheese, especially on a gray, chilly Portland day.

Me & The Pops
We had glanced over the menu for the iPad while killing time at the coffee house. In that moment I decided to have The Pops, havarti, tomato and honey mustard on Dave's Killer Cracked Wheat. I think I inhaled that sandwich; it was so good.

Bamboo Sushi: [website]
We attempted to go next door to Ken's Artisan Pizza but the wait time was 1.5 hours. Bamboo was only 45 minutes (felt like less). Another return visit for me. I remember having the best vegetarian sushi rolls ever here - and I had them again. The Green Machine and 180 rolls, along with the Pickled Plum, did not disappoint. I also tried the local Deschutes Green Lake Organic Ale, delicious.


Broder: [website]
Not on Leslie's list, but on our list, we had brunch at Broder. There was a wait but the nice deal (especially with the morning rain) is that they have a waiting area next door. You sign in and they have coffee available.

Once seated, I skipped the latte (had one last time and it was good!) and went with a cafe au lait. I went with two baked eggs and potato pancake. It comes with walnut toast which is so delicious; I need to find a recipe to make at home. Shelby also order the Danish pancakes (pictured above right); they look like donut holes. With lemon curd and lingonberry jam. Amazingly delicious. All of it.

Rock 'n Rose Vintage + New Clothing: [website]
I found a cute dress which I debated over. (I ended up going back and buying it.)

Rogue Ales Public House: [website]
We ate dinner at home before taking Leslie on a small tour of local breweries, starting with Rogue. I went with the Dead Guy Ale (pictured left). And with my Rogue Nation citizen card got a discount. Who doesn't love a discount?

Deschutes Brewery & Public House: [website]
We walked down to Deschutes, which was pretty slammed being a Saturday night and all. We found some real estate in the bar area and ordered sweet potato fries. Deschutes has good ones! Leslie and I split a sampler of six: Black Butte Porter, Green Lakes Organic Ale, Nitro Obsidian, Super Jubel, Headwaters Hefeweizen and Crown Point Brown. The best tasting was the Headwaters Hefeweizen, which is an unusual choice for me.


Barista: [website]
This day might have been our best day in terms of food and drink. Barista was another coffee shop from Leslie's "Best Of" list. I changed it up today and went with the Americano and a blackberry danish; neither disappointed.

Cine Magic: [Yelp]
It was a rather rainy day so we decided to catch a movie. I had been attempting to see "Black Swan" for weeks and convinced Shelby and Leslie to see it. We found a good matinee time at the local Cine Magic on Hawthorne, the kind of theater where they show one movie at a time.

Movie review: Natalie Portman did an amazing. The movie itself was dark and disturbing with more blood than I anticipated. It was good but hard to watch.

Potato Champion: [website]
Since we were in the neighborhood and had time to kill before Ken's opened (we were determined not to wait this time), we visited the Potato Champion food truck. It was on Leslie's list but we had also been on my previous visit so it didn't take much convincing to go. We just split a small cone of fries with curry sauce for dipping. You can't go wrong there.

Ken's Artisan Pizza: [website]
After a visit to Lizard Lounge (vintage furniture, etc.), we made our way to Ken's so we could be there right when it opened. That made for an early dinner but we didn't want to risk another hour-plus wait. Leslie and Shelby split the margarita pizza. I ordered the olive pizza, with rosemary, mozzarella and black olives. It's good pizza! I didn't go as ga-ga over it as Shelby and Leslie but it was good. And the pizzas are large enough to split between two people. I had enough to take home for later enjoyment.

Clyde Common: [website]
Karen Foley of Imbibe gave us a few suggestions of places to try in the city for drinks. Clyde Common was one. It's in the Ace Hotel downtown. Jeffrey (the bar manager) was our mixologist for the night; he took good care of us. Even reviews on Yelp praised him.

I had to write down what he mixed together for me so that I could maybe order them elsewhere in the future. Drink One was gin, dry sherry, ginger beer and lime. This was a new drink they were trying and it did not yet have a name; Jeffrey said it was based on a Barcelona Fizz. The second drink was rye whiskey, tea-infused benedictine, lemon and soda water (pictured left center). Not sure if it had a name, but it was good.


Swirl Frozen Yogurt: [website]
Our last day in Portland. Sad. We had a snack of frozen yogurt at Swirl on Hawthorne. I like these kind of places where you fill your own bowl with yogurt and toppings and pay by weight. I went with the Cable Car Chocolate (not sure what makes "cable car" different from the other chocolates) and the Pistachio. I made good choices, with some almonds, mini chocolate chips and hot fudge. Life is short; eat dessert first, then decide where to have dinner.

Farm Cafe: [website]
Another early dinner, since we were already out, we arrived at 5 when Farm opened. It was suggested by Shelby's brother Matthew that we try another place for dinner. But after we read the menu online, I had herb-crusted tofu on the brain. So we went. And I was very pleased with my choice. There were four pieces of herb-crusted tofu around a large portion of mashed potatoes and a scoop of mushroom marsala. All of the pieces to the dish worked so well together; I ate almost everything (there was no way I could finish all those mashed potatoes).

Shelby ordered a glass of the David Hill Farmhouse Red. It was quite good. Leslie and I found it at the Made in Oregon wine/beer kiosk at PDX for $10/bottle. Now Shelby knows where to buy it when she flies home.

Central: [Yelp]
Karen also told us about Portland's speakeasy, Central. We have one in Nashville called The Patterson House. We found the address and hints about finding it via Yelp. Since we had an early dinner, we arrived early at Central. There were only two other women there when we arrived, probably because it was a Monday and a holiday.

I had the Out & About. Too bad I can't remember what was in. But it was pretty good. I think the overall review would be: cool design, decent drinks but not quite like our Patterson House.

Photography from Thursday, Jan. 13 to Monday, Jan. 17, courtesy of Leslie Ryann McKellar [website]

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