Posts Tagged ‘Portland Food Review’
Like most people who have spent time in China, I am usually super critical of “Americanized” Chinese food, but sitting at Beijing Hot Pot, trust me on this, you could just as easily be anywhere in China – it’s that authentic.
What is “hot pot?” Think “Chinese fondue”. But it’s not cheese, it’s a boiling cauldron of spicy (or not) broth at your table, and amply stacked plates of meats, vegetables, and / or seafood that one cooks in the broth. There are plenty of options no matter which way you lean on the ‘vore’ scale.
We started with both steamed and fried dumplings, with traditional dumpling dipping sauces, including vinegar.
The server brings the broth to your table, which has a gas-heated bowl, divided into two pots, and pours the broth into the pots. In a matter of minutes, the broth is at a full boil, and you are ready to cook!
There’s beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, tofu, and a host of noodles to put into the broth. The wait staff and owner are very friendly, and further instruction is available from them or on the menu, if you are in need of coaching.
The cooking food adds even more flavor to the broth, and if you defer adding the noodles until late in the game, they become an exclamation point to the experience!
Chinese and Taiwanese beers are available, as well as soft drinks, and tea, of course.
This would be a great place for a first date, as cooking together is a great bonding experience (or makes up for any lulls in the conversation).
This is the weekend before Chinese New Year, and as we head into the year of the dragon, Hot Pot was a great way to celebrate the holiday, and for me, personally, a time to drift back to my pleasant memories of living in China.
The bill for four was $85., and worth every yuan, er penny!
Go, eat, laugh, enjoy.
We asked our innkeeper for directions to Brady’s, and he supplied minutia detail down to the minute (7 minutes north on this road, turn right…, etc).
Brady’s is not a restaurant, it’s an oyster farming business, with a small market, and an in-house smoker for local salmon and other delicacies. Aside from the seafood counter, they have a couple of shelves of related grocery items, like cocktail sauce, crackers, seasoning and a few knick-knacks.
Oysters there are damned cheap, compared to restaurant prices, and you can buy them by the pint, gallon, or multi-gallon. They ship, as well. As you probably know, oysters come in a variety of sizes, and having moved up here from the Gulf Coast, we’re used to a more diminutive mollusk than are generally available here. The “smalls” in Washington are fairly equal to the largest ones out of Louisiana, and if you want ‘reall small” around these parts, you ask for yearlings.
The even larger ones are a delicacy in Asia these days, and the US ships a lot of them over there.
So we purchased some ‘already shucked’ oysters, cocktail sauce, crackers, and a slab of smoked salmon to enjoy at the picnic tables outside the market.
If you want a strictly oyster vacation, it appears South Bend, WA, is the center of the industry in the area. Lots of processing plants and oyster-centric restaurants.
We enjoyed Brady’s. We’d stop again.
I opted to hit this spot despite some negative reviews on Yelp and other sites. The reason is that our motel manager not only recommended it, but gave such an enthusiastic rave, I had to see what all the fuss was about.
Spoiler alert: I don’t agree with the negative reviews I read, and was tempted (but didn’t) to waste the time and see if the ‘reviewers’ always leaned towards the negative.
Yes, the place is priced at a premium level, and yes, it is unpretentious as far as ambiance, but YES, the food is great and worth a stop.
We started with the crab-stuffed mushrooms, moved into the massive fresh seafood bowl, and I went with a “tuna burger”, large chunks of albacore, deep-fried, served on a kaiser, dressed.
In my opinion, worth the time and money. Besides, there are California wines by the bottle for as low as $20 and you can take the leftovers away!
Everything was fresh, and freshly prepared. Great waitress, young man cooking who also shows a flair for art (ask to see his sketch pad!). We recommend.
We pulled into Aberdeen on a Saturday morning expecting to imbibe in a regular “Dennys type” morning breakfast. That’s what we talked about, that’s what we were looking for. Driving down US 101 North near the downtown, I spotted a sign, and turned to Mrs. Burgerdogboy and said “how about Salvadoran?”
She said “yes,” and I shocked the hell out of her and made a hard right into the small parking lot.
About a dozen tables inside, one other occupied, we slid into a booth and were promptly greeted. One can order from the server or at the counter, and Mrs. BDB was so excited at the possibility of an “authentic” meal, she popped to the counter and ordered for us.
The Mrs. opted for a plate of a half dozen small tongue tacos, ordered a pupusa on the side, and a steak torta (sandwich) for me. As an after thought, I asked if she had ordered a side of beans, she hadn’t, and then did, and was she / we ever glad! Best frijoles I have ever had – anywhere on the planet, including Mexico, Spain, and Central America!
My sandwich was overwhelming in both size and flavor. It came on fresh baked, very soft roll, with chopped lettuce, tomato, and dressing.
The tacos were outstanding as well, served with the traditional accompaniments including pickled vegetables.
We both had a Jarritos soda, lime for her, pineapple for me (one of my “couple times a year indulgences I really shouldn’t have).
The pupusas were grand as well.
We couldn’t leave without throwing some of their wonderful, yet unpretentious food in the cooler to take home, so add another half-dozen tamales and a double order of the beans, and it brings our bill to under $30.
This joint was a fabulous impulse. Don’t dine in Aberdeen without considering a stop here.
There has been a lot written about the “dumbing down” of American news media. Having spent some years in senior management of an international news organization, I would share this opinion. Americans like their news in quick, content void, sound bites. Headlines. USA Today. CNN Headline news. Entertainment programs portraying themselves as news, and “celebrities” posing as journalists.
Many will disagree with me, but I believe the same thing is happening to our cuisine. Not that it has ever been for the sophisticated palate on a mass basis, but despite a lot of press coverage about our “new culture” of “sophisticated foodies”, it would seem to me that the majority of the population wants their food just like they want their news – in plain vanilla fashion, and the plainer, the better.
I write about hamburgers a lot, as you know, and some will argue with me – look at all the new “gourmet” burger joints out there – exotic meats, toppings, and so on.
Yeah, you’re right, but the point is, they are still hamburgers.
But more to the (my) point is the utter blandness of products that appeal to the masses. Take the lowly Egg McMuffin, of which I partake a few times a year, including yesterday. My problem? It tastes like nothing.
Bacon – doesn’t taste like bacon; cheese doesn’t taste like cheese; egg doesn’t taste like egg. It’s just a warm bit of “nutrition”, served fast, and relatively economically.
I’m not picking on McDonalds in particular. Buy a pizza from larger chains, and you’ll encounter the same phenom – warm, relatively tasteless, economical food stuffs.
At the grocery – brine injected pork roasts or fryers. Frozen appetizers and entrees with fast food logos on them.
It’s only in the smallest towns, out of the way, mom and pop joints that one can experience real American cuisine anymore. I delight in ‘discovering’ these places, especially on car trips, avoiding the freeways, and traveling down the former main highways in the US.
So get out there, and have some “real” American food. Buy meat from local butcher or farms. You’ll notice the difference.
As drastic a difference as between Walter Cronkite and Piers Morgan!
Fletcher’s, “proudly Canadian since 1917”, arguably makes some of the best mass-market bacon around. And you’ll pay for it, as well. A full line-up of their processed pork products is here.
We’re enjoyed their bacon from time to time, and last week I picked up a pack of their Louisiana style hot links smoked sausage.
They are fat, juicy, and full of flavor. Great snap. And they are HOT.
This is one of the ‘hotter’ mass market smoked sausages I have found. Probably the only one we regularly purchase that gives off more heat, is Fred Meyer’s house brand “Italian hot.”
I liked these. For breakfast, dinner, in gumbo, or any other reason you have to use a smoked sausage, Fletcher’s is a good choice.
When one visits the Departure Restaurant in the “Nines” Hotel in downtown Portland, one might consider “dressing to the nines” – not to impress your date, spouse, or colleague, but because you’re going to want to develop a relationship with Executive Chef Gregory Gourdet’s amazing creations. Relationship? Hell, you’re going to want to go steady with this food, maybe marry it, have babies with it. It’s that good.
In a city chock-a-block full of interesting and quality restaurants, Departure stands head and shoulders (and 15 stories) above the pack. With a modern Pan Asian menu, Gourdet was quoted in Nation’s Restaurant Food Magazine as saying ““People just want to be wowed. They know a lot more about food these days, so they expect more creativity from chefs and that translates to flavors as well.”
And does he ever hit the mark, over and over again with his carefully honed menu.
The occasion of our outing was to celebrate Mrs. Burgerdogboy’s birthday, and I wanted to pick a place that was “above nice” (she deserves the best), but also that served some of her favorite tastes. I suspected Departure would please on both counts, and when I heard Gourdet was offering a traditional Peking duck this month, I knew the evening had the potential for being close to her idea of heaven.
Gourdet, the food, service, the room, ambiance, view, all contributed to a perfect evening, but the food was the real star.
I had preselected our menu choices, with the duck being the centerpiece of the meal. Departure’s plates are meant for sharing, so I ordered fairly deep on the menu, including edamame and panko-encrusted Kobe meatballs for starters.
Even something has simple as the soybeans were special, with a rich buttery flavor, a hint of salt. The meatballs incorporated fois gras, and were served with tonkatsu sauce, which is generally made with pureed apples and Japanese Worcestershire.
We moved on to the crispy pork belly, served with pickled cherries, ginger, and pumpkin seeds. The belly was prepared perfectly, crispy exterior, flavorful bites of sus scrofa domesticus (pig).
Roughly-diced brussels sprouts, sauteed with chili, lime and mint came next. As simple a vegetable as brussels sprouts are, they can be difficult to prepare well, and once again, Gourdet has found the solution creating a very tender, packed with flavor offering.
The show piece duck takes 35 minutes to “fire” (after two days of intense prep), and was presented whole to the table by the waitstaff prior to being returned to the kitchen for the final presentation. In Beijing, there is a particular procedure to presenting and serving whole duck, and it’s generally offered as a three course experience, starting first with the crispy skin, dipped in a sugar/garlic sauce; followed by the meat, served with steamed pancakes, spring onions, cucumbers, and plum and/or hoison sauce. One wraps the duck, onions, cuke spears and a dab of sauce in the pancakes, folds or rolls it, and eats it much as if it was a Chinese “street taco.”
The final plate in Beijing would be for the chef to take the remaining fat, meat, and bones, and make it into a broth, or perhaps a stir-fry.
Gourdet follows the game plan, adding his own twists. The pancakes, in their own right, were thicker and smaller than you would find in China, and more akin to a taco one would find from a street vendor in Tijuana. Even on their own, they were delicious, but add the duck, vegetables and sauce, and you will find few, if any, better restaurant meals in Portland.
Chef has avoided offending American palate “sensibilites” by using meat, instead of fat and bones, for his accompanying fried rice dish. Again, this dish could stand on its own as an entree.
The duck is a very LTO (limited time offer) and you should order a day ahead of time to assure a bird will be available for you. It is intended to be shared by four persons, but the two of us did serious damage on it, and had enough to bring home for another couple of meals.
Gourdet stopped by the table to wish Mrs. Burgerdogboy a “bon anniversaire” and to inquire how we liked the meal.
Well, Chef, hopefully we sung your praises loud enough at the table, but if not, perhaps this review states it emphatically.
You are a rising star on the
Portland national food scene. You deserve any and all accolades and recognition that will come your way in what is sure to be an outstanding career.
Thanks to you, and the staff at Departure for one of the best nights out in Portland we have experienced.
Departure’s menu is online.
Founded in 1977 in California, Claim Jumper has grown to 37 locations, mostly in the Western US. With a decor resembling a rustic hunting lodge, and a menu that offers virtually “something for everyone”, the chain maintains its popularity because of quality food, large portions, and friendly, prompt service.
The seating capacity at the outlet we visited was 550, according to the occupancy sign at the door, and since we had to wait (very briefly) for a table, one would guess the joint was full up.
Service was prompt, regardless. We started with the pretzel stick appetizer (choice of butter and salt coating, or parmesan / garlic), which comes with your choice of a cheese or mustard dipping sauce. These aren’t your standard pretzel bits, but rather a half dozen nearly foot long soft rods, warm, chewy, and flavorful.
Mrs. Burgerdogboy went for the chopped Cobb salad, with an add on of chopped tenderloin steak; the salad was artfully arranged on the plate, and the beef was flavorful and very tender.
I opted for the “light” portion of country fried steak, which came with mash and white gravy. The steak coating was crispy, and the meat was tender. A lot of prep of CFS use a less than premium cut of beef, but I can’t say that was the case here. It’s a good piece of beef.
My entree is not for the feint of heart or carb counters, however. With a single plate topping 2000 calories and nearly 200 carbs, that’s a lot of “nutrition.”
We passed on dessert, tho we have had their chocolate mother-lode cake before, six layers, and 11 bucks worth of a slice of cake that can feed an entire table.
I don’t know where Claim Jumper fits in the restaurant hierarchy. It’s a few notches above what I would call “fast casual”, but a few notches below “fine dining.”
The bill for an appetizer, two entrees, 1 cocktail, 1 coffee came in at $52 including tip.
Claim Jumper is a great place for good food, prepared well, and parties of diners with diverse palates. With virtually every food category offered on the menu, from grills, to salads, to pasta, to sandwiches, no one in your party will go away hungry.
Tucked away in one of the industrial sections of Portland, directly underneath where the 405 crosses the river, the Dockside serves the working stiffs that ply their trade in the various businesses in the port.
Open from 5AM – 8PM M-F, and with earlier closing times on the weekend, the Dockside features a lengthy breakfast and lunch menu daily food and soup specials.
I was doing some work in the area, and my client suggested we pop in for a bite. I went with a bacon/cheeseburger, which is served with your choice of a wide variety of sides, and dressed with sauce, tomato and shredded lettuce.
Ample thick-sliced bacon and gooey cheese topped the burger. While the food doesn’t particularly make the Dockside a specific destination for diners, it is ample, fast, inexpensive, and served by a really friendly staff. Full menu is online.
Had a quick bite to eat here while meeting a friend from out of town who was doing some biz in this neighborhood. I’m pretty leery of places in Portland that have the word “Deli” in their name; here it can often mean “lottery games and hot dogs,” but such was not the case today.
Tubby’s is a casual service breakfast and lunch joint with daily specials; the serve the working stiffs in the area, it seems.
My pal went for one of the specials, prime rib French dip, and I opted for the bacon cheeseburger.
I didn’t ask about any of the origin of the ingredients, though I saw empty boxes in a back hallway from IBP, and that’s premium product. The counter person asked me what I wanted on that, and few places do that anymore. There was a wide variety of sides choices, fries, tots, slaw, salad, etc. I went with fries.
It’s a good “classic” hamburger, if you’re sorting into categories these days, like the Oregonian.
And yes, I’d stop back, if I happened to find myself in that neck of the woods again.