Monday, April 27, 2015

Happy Hour with Sophistication at Clarklewis

On a constant journey to explore the best happy hours in this city, Dan and I headed over to Clarklewis this week, which boasted a plentiful happy hour menu.  I've heard great things about this restaurant from several people (from both locals and transplants) and couldn't wait to check it out.


I'd call Clarklewis the anti-Portland establishment, as it much more reminds me of a sleek, industrial restaurant I'd see in NYC.  Located on Water Avenue not far from the Hawthorne Bridge, Clarklewis is set on the ground floor of an industrial building overlooking the water and is now surrounded by other such establishment too, the gentrification phenomenon in full effect.

The inside is stunning - simple, modern and not overdone, I like how they've kept some of their original touches such as the industrial concrete floor.  The kitchen is open so you can see exactly what's cooking, and the most impressive part is the wood fired pit that's used to produce their most notable specialties.  Although we were there for happy hour, we were lucky to snag a real table close to the bar, which allowed for just the right amount of privacy.

Food and Drink:

Impressed with the generous happy hour menu, there was lots of food and beverages to choose from, which peaked at just $6.

Spring Greens Salad - Choosing a simple salad to start off with was a good idea, as it got us exposed to the fresh, delicious produce Clarklewis has on hand.  The mixed greens had a beautiful coloring and I especially liked the peppery arugula, which woke the tastebuds.  Carrots and radishes were added for a pop of color, all working well together to produce a yummy spring medley.

Arancini - In the mood for something fried and comforting (because when am I not?), the arancini were a tasty choice.  Essentially fried rice balls with tangy cheese, these made for a savory and very poppable appetizer.  A surprising element was the truffled aioli added to the bottom of each piece, adding a bit of sophistication.

Oak Grilled Hamburger - Serving as our main dish during happy hour, we marveled at this meaty beauty, which was simple but perfectly executed.  The meat patty was slightly charred on the outside yet remained juicy on the inside - the fluffy brioche bun successfully soaking up all those juices.  A few simple accouterments such as pickled onions, baby greens and mustard aoili elevated this all American treat to the next level.

Mocktail - I asked for a mocktail as my drink and wasn't disappointed with the Timber Tantrum.  Consisting of all sorts of fancy ingredients such as smoked tea vanilla syrup, bordeaux cherry syrup, lemonade and soda, it was everything that I wanted from a drink including fizzy, refreshing and a little fruity.  My favorite part was the sour cherry on top, which was literally just that. Perfection!

Service and Cost:

Matching its high quality surroundings and food, the service was just as professional.  The waitstaff was courteous and knowledgeable and took great care of us.  They were thoughtful in their pacing and food delivery, stretching out happy hour way past the usual quick in-and-out experience.

Costs are excellent for the caliber of food and drink you're getting, setting us back just under $40 for 4 appetizers, 2 burgers and 2 drinks.  It goes without saying that we'll surely be back.

3 Mmmms

Clarklewis - 1001 SE Water Street, Portland OR 97214

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Fort George Brewery - An Astoria Oregon Original

Hanging out in the "other" Astoria this past weekend was a total blast, as Dan and I once again made our way to the Oregon Coast.  Astoria has been on my must list for a while for obvious reasons but also because I heard it's a great town with lots of cool sights, shops and culinary treats.  There's also lots of breweries around such as Fort George, where Dan and I had the pleasure to lunch.


Set a few blocks down from the waterfront, Dan and I happened upon Fort George just by chance, as we turned back from the way-too-long line at Bowpicker Fish & Chips.  The brewery was nearby, located on Duane Street, just a few short blocks from Astoria's main "Downtown" area and waterfront.  We chose it mainly because they offered outdoor seating since we had Moses & Sonya's dog Bond with us too.

Enjoying the sunshine, the outdoor area was spacious and relaxing and we noticed other couples and parties like us enjoying the day with their four-legged friends.  I also had the chance to peek inside and it was great, adorning a salvaged type of feel with reclaimed wooden stools, a lovely handcrafted bar and tons of local artwork on the walls.

Beer and Food:

Even though I must admit that I didn't try the beer, Dan seemed to love his Optimist IPA, served in a sizable mason jar, describing it as hoppy, floral and delicious.

Fish and Chips
 - Since I had a major hankering for fish and chips, the fact they served it was a big draw for me.  A little skeptical about how it'd turn out at a brewery versus a traditional fish shack such as the aforementioned Bowpicker, I was pleasantly surprised and dare I even say, blown away?  Using beautiful pieces of Alaskan Cod, the fish was battered well, revealing a milky white middle which flaked off perfectly.  A chunky, homemade tartar sauce sealed the deal for me, which I used vehemently on fries as well as the fish.

Buffalo Wings
- Although the aforementioned dish was large and enough to share between two people, IMO, Dan also wanted to try the wings.  I didn't mind, as I'm always up for a basket of chicken wings and Fort George's version delivered.  Crispy on the outside and fleshy on the inside, they were substantial pieces and a little bit went a long way.  Paired with your usual suspects such as fresh celery, carrots and ranch dressing, I think this was an overall solid app, which was again nice for sharing.

Service and Cost:
Impressed with the pleasant service, I thought our waitress did a great job, especially given the lovely day outside and therefore the outdoor area being so crowded.  Everything came out relatively quickly and we felt very well taken care of, despite the fact that one waitress seemed to be in charge of multiple tables.

Costs are moderate and we walked away paying less than $40 for the two aforementioned dishes, a beer and a single oyster shooter.  Nothing to sneeze at!

3 Mmmms

Fort George Brewery - 1483 Duane Street, Astoria OR 97103

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Rose's Ice Cream - Scooping Up Flavor and Value

Given the beautiful weather in Portland lately, Dan and I have enjoyed taking walks and exploring our nearby neighborhood haunts.  Sure, there's all the sexy restaurants and shops on Alberta St, but aside from that, we've been exploring the sights on 42nd Avenue.  One such family business that's recently become a favorite of ours is
Rose's Ice Cream.  Unlike the high profile Salt & Straw on Alberta St., Rose's boasts traditional homemade ice cream that never goes out of style.  And it's certainly given us more than one reason to come back.

When you look at it from the outside, it's easy to misjudge Rose's as an unappealing old school institution.  While this assumption about Rose's age isn't untrue, I'd wholeheartedly dispute every other stereotype.  And yes, while everything about this place connotes an episode of Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives that's exactly what makes it so great.  All that nostalgia and old fashioned signage, seating and overall decor takes you back in time to a place when you were a kid and had only the simplest worries in the world.  There's something very comforting about returning to a place like this and knowing it still exists in an evolving, gentrifying city like Portland.

Ice Cream:
Boasting over thirty flavors of ice cream, some of which are daily specials makes the selection process for a customer a tough one.  A few buzzwords do it for me every time, such as chocolate and peanut butter, so sooner than later I made my decision.

Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream - Even though it looked simple, the flavors in this ice cream were all sorts of perfect.  The best part was the creamy, lush texture, which was softer than velvet and I loved that both the chocolate and the peanut butter flavors stood out.  A personal tip with any of their ice creams would be to leave them out for about 5 minutes before digging in, as helps to make them taste even smoother and more custardy.

Rocky Road ice cream - Trying this flavor most recently, the dark chocolate was pure decadence and once again even more delicious when you let it sit out for a few minutes.  A minor complaint would be that they could've been more generous with the marshmallows, but the almonds were plentiful.

Service and Cost:
Just like everything else in this old school shop, the service is warm and personable.  The folks working behind the counter are helpful and generous with their scoops - just look at this hefty waffle cone (pictured above) Dan got the other day!

Costs are inexpensive and offer great value for the quality of ice cream at just $2.95 per scoop.

3 Mmmms

Rose's Ice Cream - 5011 NE 42nd Street, Portland OR 97218

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Back to Eden Bakery Pod Comes to Division St.

Image by Back to Eden Bakery

While visiting the Division St. food truck/pod area this past weekend, I noticed a brand new eye-catching pod with a big "Bakery" sign.  Looking into it further, I learned the pod is dedicated to the well known Gluten Free bakery called Back to Eden, with a brick and mortar locale on NE Alberta Street. 

The new SE Division Street pod location comes at the perfect time, especially as the weather gets warmer each week.  It was great to see the friendly staff eager and happy to service customers with their gluten free cakes, cupcakes, pies, breakfast pastries and even soft serve non-dairy ice cream.

While the pod is still in its soft launch, look out for their official grand opening on May 1st when they'll surely be doing some special promotions for loyal customers.  However, if you want to stop by now, go right ahead, as they're open pretty much the entire day from 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Back to Eden Bakery Pod - 2880 SE Division Street, Portland OR 97202

Monday, April 20, 2015

Coco Donuts Delivers Simple Yumminess

Recently starting a new job in Downtown Portland, which I love, it's also an opportunity to explore new eateries. Donuts are of course a great excuse to get up from your desk, which is why I was psyched when my co-worker Annie suggested we try Coco Donuts on SW 6th Ave.

Located in the busy Pioneer Square area of Downtown Portland, Coco Donuts is strategically situated to enjoy great foot traffic.  Even though its location is small, the storefront is bright, cheery and noticeable with a candy pink logo.  The interior also doesn't disappoint, with a whimsy pink and brown decor and a few eye-grabbing baking tools that are displayed for their customers' viewing pleasure.  Cute as the shop may be, the piece-de-resistance is of course the rich display of freshly baked donuts, welcoming you as you approach the counter. 

Though there were many options to choose from, many of them on the more traditional side, I opted for a lavender glazed donut while Annie tried the old fashioned as well as their apple fritter.

Lavender Donut - While it was the lavender glaze that drew me to this confection, the aspect that actually stood out was the airy donut dough.  You could feel just how fresh it as upon first bite, and the interior wasn't overly sweet, which I appreciated.  Sure, the lavender glaze was tasty but it was like any other sugary glaze, not giving me much indication of lavender flavor.  Next time, I'll probably just go with something more traditional like a chocolate glazed.

Other Donuts - Annie generously offered up her donuts as well and I loved both the old fashioned and the apple fritter. The latter stood out more with a perfectly crispy crust and little chunks of soft apples that gave it that apple-y goodness.  Annie agreed too, and we kept breaking off bite-sized pieces, making a serious dent in this hefty donut.

Service and Cost:
Welcomed by the friendly staff, we felt well taken care of.  The man who helped us had a cheery disposition and was happy to get our business.  I'd definitely consider this place again, especially if I'd want to bring a dozen donuts to work for example.

Costs are very competitive at just $1.10 - $1.65 per donut or $12 per dozen.  You really can't go wrong here!

3 Mmmms

Coco Donuts - 814 SW 6th Avenue, Portland OR 97204

Sen Yai Noodles - Pok Pok Does it Again

Recently, Fooditka and I were cruising around Division Street looking for something delicious to eat.  Fortunately, the place we wanted to try was closed, so we popped into Sen Yai Noodles for a quick bite instead.  I didn't realize it at first, but Fooditka pointed out that it's part of the Pok Pok family, so it should come as no surprise that the overall experience was a good one, and I will most likely be going back sometime soon.

Sen Yai is situated on the corner of 34th and Division, only a few blocks from its parent restaurant.  It stands alone, in a pretty good sized space with plenty of room inside, and ample parking as well.  There is nothing fancy about the place, but the general atmosphere is certainly inviting and friendly.  There is an authentic feel to the dining room, with the artwork and general vibe conveying a real Southeast Asian flavor to go along with the food.

We were in the mood for a pretty light dinner; no apps, no dessert, just a quick bite on the way home. We each ordered one dish and a drink.  Fooditka went with the Phat Thai, and I chose Kuaytiaw Reua, or "Boat Noodles".  To drink I ordered the Pok Pok Bloody Mary, and Fooditka got one of the drinking vinegars that is another Pok Pok specialty.  

Phat Thai - This is a pork heavy dish; the rice noodles themselves are cooked in rendered pork fat, and Fooditka also got some ground pork thrown into the mix.  It was a very tasty dish, a little peanuty, and very flavorful with all of the pork.  The stir-fried eggs, tofu, and radishes all went really well with that delicious Pok Pok fish sauce that seems to flavor so many of their dishes so well.  Overall it was a delicious choice.

Boat Noodles - This dish was delightful as well, and pretty different from Fooditka's.  They both have noodles, but that's about all they have in common.  It's a big bowl of dark broth with two kinds of beef, house-made meatballs, spinach, chilies, herbs and bean sprouts.  The dish had a little heat to it that crept up slowly, and by the time I was done slurping the last of the broth from the bottom of the bowl, my bald head was covered in a fine sweat.  The dish was so flavorful that I didn't really notice until after I was done.  I'd highly recommend it if you like hearty soups and spicy noodles.

Service and Cost:
The service was o.k.  Not great, and not bad; I think the waiter gave me the wrong noodles with my dish, but I was pretty hungry and not about to send it back.  As you can tell from the above remarks, I still enjoyed it immensely.  The overall cost was not expensive, each dish went for about $11.00, although my Bloody Mary seemed a little pricey at $10.  I wouldn't order it again, but other than that I was happy with the overall experience.

2.75 Mmmms 

Sen Yai Noodles - 3384 SE Division Street Portland, OR 97202

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Hanging out in Babi's Kitchen, Making Chicken Paprikash

Another great thing I did while in NY last week is hang with my fun, adventurous aunt, Hela.  Also known in her circles as "Babi" meaning grandma in Slovak and Hungarian, Hela cooks up delicious homemade specialties by way of help from her talented granddaughters as well as sometimes special guests.  The whole process is documented on a popular web series she's dubbed Babi's Kitchen.  

Lucky enough to be a special guest on Aunt Hela's series last week, together we made my grandmother's delicious recipe for Chicken Paprikash.  I love this recipe because it truly reminds me of my hometown of Kosice, Slovakia - conjuring up memories of my grandmother Nadika welcoming me to her delicious smelling kitchen.  Hela had her own interpretation of course (she's a staunch health lover) but the end result was really just as delicious as Nadika's.

Here's the video recapping our experience and the full recipe - hope you enjoy it! And try not to make fun of me too much.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...