Posts Tagged ‘Portland dining’
Cooling my heels waiting for Mrs. BDB to finish a courtroom date in downtown Portland, wandered around a little before perching myself at an outdoor table at the Lotus Card Room & Cafe. According to their website, they have been around since prohibition, when they opened as a “soda bar.” (Why don’t we have soda bars today?).
Lotus is part of Portland’s Concept Entertainment Group, which operates 8 unique, local restaurant/bar concepts.
The menu offers the standard variety of bar fare, appys, burgers, sandwiches, and a few larger entrees. Lotus’ menu claims there are committed to using local and Northwest ingredients; for instance, it’s the second time in a week I have seen a restaurant promote local sausage manufacturer, Zenner’s.
Service was good for a bar; sitting where I was, I had one server and one server-in-training wait on me, so the duty was performed cheerfully by rote.
I ordered the trio of beef sliders, which come dressed with chipotle aioli, shredded lettuce, (and you know how I feel about shredded lettuce on a burger!) and a pickle slice. The server said that fries (or tots) were extra, even tho the sliders are in the same price as the regular burgers, which come w/ fries. She asked if I would like anything else with the fries, like ketchup or hot sauce, and I replied “just salt and pepper.”
After a short wait, the burgers and tots arrived, and the waitress said, “I couldn’t remember what condiment you said you wanted, so I brought ranch dressing for the tater tots.” Ambitious, but off the mark, and I repeated my request for salt and pepper, which she fetched promptly.
The burgers were pretty tasty, the chipotle aioli not so much, and one thing I liked about the burgers is they were hand-formed patties, with buns sized to fit the burgers. Often restaurants idea of a slider is to take one of their standard-sized burgers, cook it, and tear or cut it into two or three pieces. Unacceptable!
The soft buns were bakery fresh, and the tots, evenly deep-fried to the crispness factor I prefer.
I finished my plate, and the waitress brought the check, stating she was going off duty, and could I take care of it, which I did. With a Diet coke, the burgers and tots came to about $12, avec gratuity. The waitress said she would tell her shift replacement I was outside, so if I wanted anything else, the next server would take care of me, but I was there another hour, and didn’t see hide nor hair of another server.
I’m not sure if Lotus has a happy hour menu, these sliders would be great at about $4, but were a little spendy at $7.95.
I have had a couple of good burgers at another Concept Entertainment bar, but haven’t scratched the list of all their offerings around town, and the menus seem fairly similar.
But the Lotus is a nice oasis for that part of the city, with the notable exception being the parking ramp across the street is $5 per hour, so look to park on the street near by if you are driving.
lotus card room portland
We were invited to attend this event held at the newly remodeled campus of the Portland outlet of world-renowned cooking school, “Le Cordon Bleu.” The Ronald McDonald House Charities partners with the school to hold benefits to help raise money for this valuable global/community charity.
The mission of the charity is to provide comfort, safety and advocacy in a home-like environment for families with critically ill or injured children who must travel to fulfill their health care needs. The first Ronald McDonald house opened in Philadelphia in 1974; today there are 305 houses in 52 countries, plus various other accompanying children’s health care programs.
Le Cordon Bleu is the world’s largest hospitality training college, serving more than 20,000 students on five continents. While the origin of the concept can be traced back to 1578, the first school opened in Paris in 1895. Present ownership is in the hands of owner, André J. Cointreau, a descendant of both the Cointreau and Rémy Martin liquor dynasties.
The 18 schools in the US are operated through a partnership with Career Education Corporation.
The schools offered advanced training in the culinary arts, as well as hospitality management.
The Portland partnership between the school and the charity is mutually beneficial; the school’s students get “real world’ experience in planning and executing events, while the charity is afforded the opportunity to raise funds for its valuable work.
The theme of last night’s event was “Food of India”, and included a short demonstration before enjoying a five-course meal at the school’s “Technique” restaurant. Master Chef Anjali Wynkoop led the demo and organized the dinner, based on specialties from her birthplace.
The starters were a peppery-soup, hot and satisfying, served in a teacup, and prawn fritters, served with tamarind, mint and cilantro chutney.
Chef wowed us with her entree of “Murg Chettinad”, chicken prepared in traditional manner of its origin; Chettinad is a region of Tamil-Nadu, one of the 28 states of India, located in the far southwest of the peninsula.
The chicken is marinated and sauteed with coriander and black pepper. We learned in the demo that turmeric, a common herb used in Indian cooking (from which many dishes obtain their “yellow” coloring), is not used in India for its color or flavor, but rather as for its preservative qualities in keeping meats palatable for a longer term. Another choice ‘tidbit’ Chef proffered was that in India, you can tell if it’s a special occasion (birthday, wedding, anniversary) merely by the fact of whether or not meat is served at the meal!
The side was one of our personal favorites, Paneer Korma Bhaji, soft cheese with a medley of vegetables and cashews in coconut sauce, and dessert was an aesthetically pleasing mango and cardamon kulfi (ice cream), with a hunk of flavorful pistachio flat-bread.
The entire event was organized and hosted by the Ronald McDonald Charities event coordinator, Rylee O’Brien, who demonstrated repeatedly why she holds this position; the event was flawless. Kudos to the student/staff of the school for their execution.
The Ronald McDonald House holds events like these throughout the year, and you can check their schedule or get on their mailing list here.
But don’t wait for an event to support this valuable community resource, check out some of the numerous ways you can help the Ronald McDonald House.
To find out more about the programs and classes offered at Le Cordon Bleu Portland, visit their site.
Mrs. BurgerDogBoy and I headed out to savor the special reveillon dinner at Acadia. In French culture, the reveillon is a long meal traditionally held on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Day.
Acadia’s reveillon was not particularly long lasting timewise, but it was long on flavor, cuisine steeped in Acadiana (Louisiana Franchophone) culture, and the first meal we’ve had in our three years in Portland that has left us wanting nothing at the end of each course.
As there were two of us, and the menu offered a choice of two different selections for each course, we were able to sample everything on the menu.
After a pair of special cocktails from the reveillon menu, Huckleberry Bounce, or Acadian Eggnog (whew!), our starters included chef/owner Adam Higg’s interpretation of a regional Acadiana specialty, the Natchitoches meat pie, which was a mixture of spiced minced beef and vegetables in a crescent moon shaped flaky crust. This is similar to a pasty or empanada. We had the spiced seckel pear salad with Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam cheese, a creamy offering, with flavors reminiscent of mushrooms and butter.
The server also presented us with a plate of a variety of breads they had prepared, as well as small ramekins of honey and butter to go with them. I could love on this butter, all by itself. Mmmmm.
As an additional starter, I asked for a serving of their BBQ shrimp, which is a New Orleans (and personal) favorite, and has nothing to do with “BBQ”. The entire crustacean at Acadian is floating in an oil-butter sauce, which, if no one was looking, you’d pick up the bowl and drink. I’m not saying Mrs. BurgerDogBoy actually did this, but…… There are two distinct approaches to BBQ shrimp in New Orleans, a sweetened version served by Emeril (ewww, how does anyone eat ANYTHING with his name on it?), or the more traditional savory version, closer to Acadia’s. The dish was purportedly invented at Pascal’s Manale, a favorite of any one who has ever dined in New Orleans.
The blackstrap (molasses) country-cured ham tasted exactly like ham is SUPPOSED to taste, but seldom does, anymore, and was fabulous with braised red cabbage and roasted turnips.
One doesn’t usually think “trout” when they think of New Orleans cooking, but it is a specialty there and served at many fine restaurants. My favorite “(tr)outlet” in the Crescent City is an old timer, the Bon Ton, where I would treat myself to a special meal on personally significant occasions.
Acadia takes New Orleans’ trout to a new level, with a macadamia nut butter, and a mandarin orange and squash brulee.
Dessert? Why yes, please. Two choices tonight: eggnog bread pudding with dark rum caramel sauce, or a bourbon, fig and spice cake with brown sugar ice cream.
Never been a fan of bread pudding………until tonight. We brought home a half-serving of each of the desserts, when we returned hours ago. Think they are awol at the moment.
Acadia is probably Portland’s most exquisite and delicious Louisiana cooking outlet. You should try it. If you have, you should go back. We sure will. Got my heart set on a catfish poboy or the entree version of the BBQ shrimp. While dinner is available Monday-Saturday nites, lunch is only offered on Wednesdays. Full reveillon menu shown below, after pix of salad, bbq shrimp, trout, and ham dishes.
Portland is big on brunch, and Tasty n Sons aims to satisfy those urges, offering a “brunch only” menu all the time (open 9-3), which is both interesting AND tasty!
Brought to us by the fine folks who gave us Toro Bravo, Tasty’s menu is so fascinating to me, I think I could eat there over and over again and not get bored. However, being that I am the “Burgerdogboy”, I was invited by Portland’s rising star attorney, William Duval, friend and counsel to small business, to have a burger at Tasty, and since this man has impeccable taste (in both burgers and friends), I took him up on the suggestion.
The burger on the menu is not described, as Portland restaurants are wont to do, lately, that is, they don’t say it’s “house ground blended blah blah.”
Nope, the menu says simply “house bacon cheeseburger with cheddar or smoke bleu,” not even mentioning where the bacon comes from (who cares, anyway?) or that the sandiwch comes with a side of incredibly tasty, fresh-cut, nicely cararmelized fries.
The menu doesn’t even describe the standard dressing, chopped lettuce, “sauce”, onion, bread and butter pickles, one of the softest, sweetest burger buns you will ever encounter, and a dollop of thousand on the side.
We both requested the burgers to be medium rare, but the server cautioned us the patties were thin, and it was tough to keep them on the rare side. Nonetheless, the chef mastered whatever he had to and accomplished this on our burgers.
This is now easily in my top five of Portland burgers. I’ll have to have 6 or 13 more before I decide on its ultimate placement.
The space is ‘cavernous’ and has a number of ‘family style’ tables, and with an open kitchen, can be pretty damned loud.
But just like looking at a pretty woman, put a beautiful burger in front of my face, and I go deaf, anyway.
So thanks, Wil.lia.m, for turning me on to “one tasty burger!”
If there is a single problem with Tasty, it’s the location. Oh, it’s not bad, but rather, it’s a few doors down from one of my other favorite Portland restaurants, “Eat- An Oyster Bar.”
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I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical of moving to Portland….worried I was going to go hungry after living in (arguably) the food capital of North America – New Orleans, for five years. But a bitch named Katrina persuaded me it was time to go, and after searching high and low, Mrs. BDB and I chose Portland as the new promised land for us.
On some levels, it has been a rough transition, on others, most notably food, not so much. My previous experiences in Portland were limited to business meetings in airport hotels, but having lived here for two years now, I really am in food heaven.
While Portland is the cneter of the universe, pretty much, for the organic and sustainable food movements, it also (to my and everyone else’s surprise) seems to be the center of food innovation in the country, and that innovation is led by the food cart scene, which has been written about ad nauseum by every blogger, major newspaper, and food periodical out there.
And well it should be. Aspiring local and distant chefs are getting their start inexpensively and creatively by launching a food cart biz, and, if (when) they reach a certain level of success, are able to parlay their cart success into a free-standing restaurant. It happens more often than one might think.
While Portland is about as a homogenous of population as one can find in the US (that says a lot coming from a boy from Minnesota), the food cart scene provides nearly everything single ethnic offering (as well as mash-ups of same) as one can imagine, whether it’s Hillbilly Bento, cheeseburger Chinese dumplings, bangers and mash, hundreds of varieties of Mexican/Latin, or the plethora of Scandinavian offerings. In all my travels, I’ve never seen (in the U.S) so many places that offer Scandinavian food, (and I went to a Norwegian-based college). Even in the largest cities in the country, one is usually limited to the IKEA cafeteria if one wants to sample this kind of fare!
Living in Hong Kong, I learned the city had 60,000 food establishments, including restaurants and street vendors. Portland has a minuscule fraction of that, but some days, to me, the city seems to have more than I could visit in a lifetime, and each week, there are one or two new offerings cooler than before.
Whether your eclectic tastes or curiosity runs to “waffles only” or “vegetarian bbq”, there’s a place to satisfy you here.
It reminds me of a television show I saw last nite, the people were talking about the internet as the great uniter. The internet makes us feel not alone. A (sic) quote was “if you want to reenact the Boston Tea Party dressed as Star Wars characters, with the internet, you can find the ten other people in the world that also dream of that.”
Such is the case with Portland food. But you won’t just find ten people who think the idea of a cheeseburger stuff steamed Chinese dumpling is fascinating….. you’ll find a long line of people each noon who share your obsession.
If you are visiting Portland for the first time, and want to explore the cart scene, there is no better resource than the Food Carts of Portland website, which allows you to search by cuisine, neighborhood, hours, and more. These are the “go to buys” for all those major newspapers, TV networks, and bloggers that come to town to check us out. So they should be your first stop, as well. (the pic is from their website, too).
They describe themselves as a “New American Tavern”, offering recognizable takes on familiar classics, and if you haven’t been here for their generous happy hour menu, you’re missing a treat. With an extensive menu of small plates ranging in price from $1- $5, a party of four (or 1,2, 0r 3 or 20) can eat and drink most economically, especially considering the neighborhood.
Service is friendly and punctual.
Among the more interesting offerings: deviled eggs, house cured olives, tempura mushrooms, fried almonds, and many more. Tonight I enjoyed the trio of sausages with house-made kraut, two mustards, and a side of giant rings with garlic aioli.
There are probably 20 items, at least, on the small plate happy hour menu. The entire menu is posted here, and is just as interesting. This is my second visit, and I’m not known for repeating.
I’ll be back, I am sure. Their sidewalk tables on a sunny day are a delight as well.
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