Um, yeah, this is WAY off topic but I've had a couple of questions about where we went when we were in Portland so here's the rundown...
Hotel: Hotel Monaco. It was awesome with Starbucks coffee and Tazo tea service in the morning, cocktail hour at 5pm, and a beautiful room. Walking to lots of great shopping and food.
Thursday we arrived later than we had planned and just grabbed a quick lunch at the Italian place Pazzo around the corner from our hotel. I had the chicken panini and it was pretty good and I liked the sweet potato fries it came with. Our friends seemed to like their pasta dishes too.
Dinner Thursday was at the Portland version of El Gaucho. When we lived in Seattle (which now seems like a million years ago although it was only about 7 years), we frequented the Seattle El Gaucho where you could get an awesome table side Caesar salad, Chateaubriand for two, and a chocolately dessert to get us through the night. Those same items were on the menu although the salad was not as good as I remembered (but still yummy). We added the Lobster Mashed Potatoes to our table which were sooo yummy. I would not have thought of making a lobster gravy but when eating to excess, that was a nice touch. Thankfully I didn't see the bill for our feast but I'm sure glad this was on our list.
Friday we had big plans for breakfast...Mother's Bistro. The friends that we were traveling with had been many times before and another friends had told us to be sure not to miss breakfast there. I was so glad we were in the sunny bright dining room right next to the window so we could take in the sights. I had the Stuffed Frittata and Jay had the Crunch French Toast...both of which were yummy and hearty portions.
After breakfast we drove around a little bit then we visited the Japanese Garden. I could have stayed there all day. It was around 50 degrees so walking around was comfortable. Not much was blooming yet but the quiet of the winter look was actually pretty relaxing for me. If I were visiting in the summer I would definitely add some time to my schedule to check out the International Rose Garden which is right next to the entrance to the Japanese Garden.
We walked around some and visited Powell's Bookstore among some other stores. We visited Henry's Tavern for beers before heading out to find a sushi place for lunch. Henry's, by the way, has a very cool ice strip around the bar that you can rest your beer on to keep it icy cold. Neato! We asked for a sushi recommendation from just about everyone who would listen and went out in search of Sinju which is located across the street from Jamison Square on Washington. We don't get to eat very much sushi here in the suburbs of Houston so it was a very nice treat and we definitely stuffed ourselves with two rounds of sushi plus some really yummy plum wine.
If you are wondering where to find the windows where I took the pictures (one with the shutters and one with my friend sitting up in it) it was the walls of an old building that are now around a parking lot on the corner of NW 10th and NW Johnson. It looked like it could be a great little area for portraits! For something fun...check out this location with Google Maps and click on the street view option to see the actual intersection!!!
After some rest time in our rooms we were ready to make our way to dinner. Our first stop was the Bo Restobar where we had a cocktail. Our drinks were not well made and the demographic of the bar was kind of all over the place (everything from the 70 year old woman having a cocktail to the guy with cats printed on his coat). After that we headed to the Tugboat Brewing company where we did enjoy some yummy beers and a bowl of olives. We like olives.
We finally made it to our dinner spot....Park Kitchen. We enjoyed chatting with Jaime, the bar manager while we waited for our table to be ready. Let me start with YUM! Our waitress (Holly?) was awesome and every time she described a dish we wanted to eat it! She should totally write the copy for the menus! We just couldn't decide so we went for the Chef's Tasting instead. I can tell you the absolute standout was the Pork Loin over cornbread stuffing. We were all trying to get that one last bite as we shared all the dishes. We were the last diners in the place and when Holly switched us off to another server it was a seamless transition. Actually, that guy was so funny talking to us that our faces actually hurt when we left from laughing so much (sorry, I don't know his name though). And I'm a little fuzzy on the details but SOMEONE recommended we check out Screen Door for breakfast...which we did...see below.
Our big plan for Saturday was to head out to the beach but we knew we wanted to check out The Screen Door for breakfast first. We were up pretty early since we never really got used to the time difference so we drove around looking at neighborhoods while we waited for the restaurant to open (not till 9!!!). We arrived at the opening and stood in line for a table but only waited a few minutes to be seated. They had both a standard brunch menu and a large list of "specials" which looked more seasonal (and fantastic). It was actually a little overwhelming because there seemed to be so many choices. I decided to go with the Corned Beef Hash which was topped with spinach and a creamy mustard sauce. I'm a savory breakfast kind of girl so it was great for me. Jay had the chicken and waffles. It is really hard to describe...imagine three fried chicken breasts with a spicy seasoning stacked on top of a sweet potato waffle and pinned together using a steak knife instead of a toothpick. Yum! Our one friend had biscuits and gravy (everyday for breakfast) and claimed it was the best he had in they city. And the french toast looked more like a dessert so no complaints there. And don't forget the Praline Bacon which was YUMMY!!!
After that meal we really wanted to take naps but the beach was calling so we made the drive to Cannon Beach. The day was beautiful so we walked and walked to walk off that breakfast. It was great driving through the mountains and seeing snow, and suddenly the ocean is in front of you! After all that walking we headed to Bill's Tavern for lunch. Our friends had eaten great meals there before but we did not have a stellar meal this time. The beer was good but we had to send our friend's soup back twice because it was not hot. I will say I did enjoy my tuna melt. We hit the candy store on the way home (where I got Jay a peanut butter cup the size of his fist because I could) and made the drive back over the mountains.
Our last real meal in Portland was at Ten 01. Erica, the sommelier, knew the husband of the third couple so I think she took extra good care of us. My meal was fantastic. I had sweet onion-cauliflower soup for my appetizer which was a creamy soup topped with spicy lamb sausage, almonds and golden raisins. I really liked it. And to carry through the theme I had the roasted lamb chops for my dinner which were cooked perfectly and came with goat cheese gnocchi. Having eaten in Portland for a few days we noticed three ingredients that were really popular....goat cheese, meyer lemons, and beets. One of our friends had the heirloom beet salad and she let me try a taste. All I can say is....where does one buy heirloom beets because I would eat that every day! The pastry chef was on fire that night too because we had some fantastic desserts including Chocolate Whiskey Cake, Olive Oil Beingets, and a peanut butter and jelly creme brulee (which was awesome). We did have a service slowdown between apps and dinner but I hardly noticed because I had so many different wines in front of me. :-)