I am currently writing this post in the midst of my travel from Portland back to DC. It's a long haul, but it was certainly worth the trip for a weekend filled with great friends, great food, and great wine. Portland is a fun town with a lot of "weird", but also a lot of exciting things to explore. We rented a house in the Pearl District which was described to me as "yippie" (translation: yuppie hippy). It's a quaint and walkable part of town with a lot of old beautiful homes, great shops, and newly converted warehouses. The fancy condominiums and high-end restaurants have moved in, but it still manages to keep its edge. In addition to a few days in the city, we also spent a day out in the Willamette Valley wine tasting and enjoying the quiet country roads of Newberg and Dundee, Oregon. It was a great trip, and I can't wait to get my big wine shipment from Adelsheim so I can sit back after a long day and enjoy a great glass of Oregon Pinot Noir right in my own home. Below is a roundup of our eats from the trip.
I love a place that offers brunch every day of the week starting at 9AM. Tasty n Sons is a great neighborhood restaurant that has a large garage door that can be propped open when the weather is nice. The indoor-outdoor feel is appealing, and it's a great place to dine on a sunny and breezy day. The menu here is overwhelming because every single thing sounds incredible. A few of our favorites were the polenta with sausage ragu, the sweet biscuits with blueberry compote, and I thought the frittata with nettles, asparagus, and feta was something to write home about.
For our first night in Portland we were looking for a sophisticated restaurant that would show us the best of Portland. Park Kitchen definitely did that. We had a great table right at the front that was exposed to outside so we were able to get some fresh air as the sun was going down. The menu is split into small hot plates, small cold plates, and large plates which allows you to either order a dish for yourself, or to order a bunch of things to share for the table. We started with the Ken's bread with handmade butter. Story goes that Ken was put in jail for some troubles related to marijuana, and in jail he became an expert bread baker. Ken now has his own bakery and the bread was really fantastic-- along with the hand churned butter! We loved our meal here. I particularly enjoyed the spinach fettucini with lamb ragu and leeks and the blackened salmon with toasted barley was light, healthy, and totally hit the spot. We also were enamored with the lamb dish which had a carmelized yogurt sauce and was cooked to perfection. The folks behind Park Kitchen also own The Bent Brick which we stopped at for drinks. Also a great spot. Park Kitchen is located at 422 NW 8th, Portland, OR 97209. On Twitter: @ParkKitchen.
This is the place everyone talks about. I knew we HAD to go here when we were in Portland, and I am very glad that we did. This Thai outpost is not fancy, but it delivers some serious spice. We went a little crazy ordering way more dishes than people. I would say the fish sauce chicken wings were a highlight and a must order. We got two buckets for the table and we considered ordering more. I also loved the baby back ribs and many of the salads including the Yam Makheua Yao (grilled eggplant with Thai chilies, shrimp, pork, and prawns), and the Sunny's Yam Wun Sen (glass noodle salad with pork). It was so hot that I needed a lot of sticky rice to cool down my mouth, but I never complain about good flavors.
My friend Alejandra ordered the special which was the crispy whole fish with a mango slaw on top which was really excellent. It was the mildest of the dishes and was a nice break from all of the intense spice. Tammy ordered the Northern Thai sweet pork belly and pork shoulder curry which had an incredible sauce, and had a stew-like consistency. The cocktails were also very fun and we enjoyed Tamarind Whiskey Sours, Apple Gin Rickeys, and I loved the Mango Alexander cocktail with vodka and coconut cream. To end the meal we went for dessert and the mango sticky rice was a perfect sweet balance to all of the spicy dishes we had just enjoyed. With toasted sesame seeds and coconut cream, it definitely hit the spot. One note about Pok Pok: they flavor their water with toasted rice (or so they say). Let's be clear: it didn't taste good. Don't feel bad asking for regular tap water! Otherwise, you'll enjoy everything you order. Pok Pok is located at 3226 SE Division Street, Portland, OR 97202. On Twitter: @PokPokPDX.
It is perhaps the most famous spot in all of Portland: the doughnut shop with multiple locations that uses the tagline "the magic is in the hole". We got to the Voodoo around 11PM and there was a line about 30 people deep outside. The majority of those waiting seemed to be high school kids at their weekend hangout spot, but we were not deterred. We got a dozen doughnuts and we were sure to get a sampling of the best flavors that were offered: bacon maple, Captain Crunch, Oreo, chocolate cake, lemon chiffon crueller, sprinkles, chocolate glazed, cinnamon sugar, and even one with a Tang flavor.
These doughnuts are not messing around. We dug into the box first thing the next morning when we woke up and we went to town. I am not normally someone to crave doughnuts, but I have been thinking about the chocolate cake doughnut ever since I had it this past weekend. So good. Voodoo Doughnut has two locations in Portland: 22 SW 3rd Avenue, and 1501 NE Davis Street. On Twitter: @VoodooDoughnut.
I really loved the space at Clyde Common. Most of the tables were made of large slabs of wood to create common spaces for people to dine. They describe the restaurant as a European style tavern, and they also have a robust drink list including one called the B.M.O.C. made with bourbon, raw ginger syrup, bitters, and soda (we later found out this stands for 'Big Man on Campus' which I love.) There is a limited menu, but the odor of truffle oil had been permeating the air for awhile, and we knew we needed to get a few orders of the truffled popcorn to start. The key ingredient on this dish was the melted grana padano on top. Clyde Common also serves a hot focaccia bread for the table with olive oil that is a really nice start to any meal. I started with the cream of mushroom soup which came in a huge bowl, and had a perfect thick consistency and was topped with baby artichokes and spinach. I would eat this soup on any chilly evening as a dinner on its own. I decided to order a half portion of the buckwheat cavatelli for my main course which came with ramps, grana padano, and walnuts. It was a very small portion, but I loved the flavors. Had I been really hungry, I would have likely wanted a lot more to eat. The reviews at the table were mixed-- the pork seemed to be a little dry and the chicken dish had a bit too many components and needed some editing. All in all, a really nice atmosphere with good drinks and solid food. It probably won't blow your mind but they do change the menu regularly so I would say it is worth a try. Clyde Common is located at 1014 SW Stark Street, Portland, OR 97205. On Twitter: @ClydeCommon.
Known as the coffee mecca of Portland, a trip to Stumptown is a must while visiting. We ended up heading to the one located on Stark Street inside the Ace Hotel both mornings we were in town for lattes. It's also nice to take the coffee over to the huge sectional couches in the lobby of the Ace to relax and enjoy. It was a perfect morning gathering place to get ourselves organized before heading out for the day.
This Stumptown shop is located at 1026 SW Stark Street, Portland, OR 97205, however there are four other locations throughout Portland. On Twitter: @StumptownCoffee.
OREGON WINE COUNTRY IN THE WILLAMETTE VALLEY
If you go to Portland, rent a car and drive an hour out to see some of the beautiful vineyards. The views are spectacular, and the wine is some of the best we have to offer in the United States. We were able to visit Adelsheim and Domaine Drouhin. The wine at Adelsheim was so good that I ordered a case so I can enjoy it back home. While we didn't enjoy the wine as much at Domaine Drouhin, the setting with a huge outdoor deck was divine, and had an amazing view of Mt. Hood. In between vineyards we stopped at Red Hills Market to fuel up on sandwiches and flatbread pizzas. Stop in, order at the counter, go park yourself at a picnic table, and wait for your delicious food to arrive while you sip on a bottle of rosé. They were playing great music, the weather was perfect, and we even hung around a bit to play bocce ball. It's such a laid back and fun environment, and I can't wait to go back to the Willamette Valley for more wine.
Go to Portland, drive out to the Willamette Valley, enjoy!