Monday, January 19, 2015
Original Greasy Spoon Fare at The Original Dinerant
This past Friday evening, Dan and I headed Downtown for a movie and dinner plan with new friends, Laura and Gianni. I find it interesting that whereas a Downtown locale in NYC would produce tons of dinner possibilities, the pickins in Downtown Portland are a lot slimmer than say in our neighborhood or in the South East. After some research, I found a casual greasy spoon joint called The Original Dinerant, which is where we ended up.
Drawn in by their all-day breakfast menu, I thought The Original would prove to be a fun, casual option for those of us who appreciate good brunch and a solid burger menu.
Walking into a semi occupied restaurant, we found the vibe to be modern and friendly, and a little step up from your traditional neighborhood diner. I like that some familiar diner aspects were preserved such as leather booth seating, some neon light action and a rotating display of pies right as you walk in. Their bar is extensive and welcoming with cushy leather stools, and Dan and I sat there casually for a few minutes enjoying a drink.
In terms of clientele, I found it to be a mix of tourists and locals like us and for the most part people who had a specific reason to be Downtown. All in all, it looked promising but didn't seem that it would blow us away.
As I hinted above, we all found familiar diner-esque foods on the menu and some were also stepped up with sophistication. We each chose something different yet quintessential of diner fare and shared a little starter as well.
Smoked Buffalo Wings - I love a good wing and these were the perfect meaty treats to get us started. There was a lot of meat on the bones, which was nice and the outside skin was a little crisped, providing nice crunch. While the wings had a distinct kick and flavor, they weren't overpowering or hard to eat. Also coming with a side of their house-made blue cheese dressing, it was pleasant but almost not even necessary.
Chicken Pot Pie - Seeing this item on the menu made my giddy and excited, especially since I haven't had a pot pie in a long time. Happy to see a beautifully browned pastry crust on an absolutely huge pie, I was eager to break into it and noticed it was accompanied by a spoon. This really was the perfect way to dig in, as its contents were a bit stewy, packed with shredded white chicken meat. The filling was no doubt indulgent and rich, mixed with cream, however it didn't feel heavy and I must admit that I almost finished it whole.
Banh Mi Burger - Dan ordered this dish and chose a gluten free bun, which actually resulted in something that looked like a sandwich. Packed with braised beef, bacon and a medley of pickled vegetables, Dan thought it was OK but nothing to write home about. I agree, as I tried a little bit of the meat and it didn't impress me much. The poutine was good, but veered on the side of salty.
Other Dishes - Laura and Gianni got the hamburger with mushrooms and the Lava Lake French dip, respectively. The burger was pretty good, Laura said but was unwieldy and hard to eat. The fries looked good but I'd recommend a different presentation, as to not make them look oily.
Service and Cost:
While the food wasn't anything remarkable, we enjoyed good, attentive service. Our waitress was always there when we needed her but we didn't feel stifled by her presence. All in all, we experienced friendly and accommodating service.
Costs are high for a diner experience, but moderate for The Original's Downtown location. We paid about $30/person including tax and tip.
The Original Dinerant - 300 SW 6th Avenue, Portland OR 97204