Posts Tagged ‘SW Portland Restaurants’
In our hood, Three Square Grill has been dishing up their take on American favorites, sourcing locally whenever possible, for over ten years. While we’ve always intended to go there, we had never made it, until last nite, and we’ve been missing out. Mrs. Burgerdogboy had called from her daily errands and suggested a date night, and it was a superb idea.
A bright and cheery space, Three Square bakes their own bread, cures their own meats, and most notably, cures a lot of charming and tasty pickled products that one can find, purchase at Three Square as well as around town. The menu varies daily.
Service is affable, prompt, and diners are started with a half baguette and butter plate. We ordered the “pickle sampler”, which was a variety of pickled cukes (both sweet and garlic), beets, beans, delicious radishes, and more.
Mrs. BurgerDogBoy went with the “Low Country Shrimp and Sausage with Grits and Greens”, a delightful riff on a Creole standard, with grilled shrimp and sausage in a flavorful sauce on a bed of grits and greens. Nice.
And I opted for the Highland Oak Farms 1/2 pound burger with cheese and bacon, side of fries. The massive hand-formed patty was prepared to my request of medium rare, and the bun was (to me) reminiscent of a fresh potato roll. It comes with pickle, tomato and lettuce on the side, naturally you can request other condiments, but I chose to tackle it “au natural” to enjoy the flavor of the beef.
It’s a damned fine burger, a great value, and was too large for me to pack away at a sitting.
Sunday breakfast is offered, we’ll get back to try that.
If you’re craving their pickled products, you can order online.
I am always reminded of this picture when I drive by a corner near my house – Pomona and SW Capitol Hwy. For years, there was a lonely outpost of all foods Mediterranean – Baba Fresh – he’s a really nice guy, good food, and a manufacturer/distributor of hummus to local retailers and restaurants.
Some years later, along comes “The Hummus Stop“, not so much a purveyor of prepared foods, like his “competitor”, but selling a number of varieties of hummus, for which they have received some noted acclaim at local farmer’s markets, as well as a a boutique line of Mediterranean grocery items.
They have a large red and white sign outside the store, brightly lit, in a kind of ‘warbly’ stop sign style.
I don’t know if these guys know each other, are friendly, or not, but I was amused recently when the streetside sign changed from just saying “Baba Fresh – Mediterranean Grill, to (in very large letters): “Baba Fresh, Kabob House and HUMMUS!”
Will one win or lose? Doubtful they are even approaching it that way. Baba Fresh has always been updating, and freshening, long before the Hummus Stop showed up. Last year he added an outside deck for dining. This year, besides the sign, some festive lighting for the deck.
He also added espresso and turkish coffees a few year ago when another across the street neighbor, Baristador’s Coffee, opened up.
We admire the owner of Baba Fresh, for always “trying”. And we wish all of our neighbors success in business, always!
Finding a good burger is always a treat; finding one in the most unlikely of locations is a double delight!
Saturday Mrs. BurgerDogBoy and I were out on some of the last minute holiday rounds; stop at a thrift store for ugly sweaters for the Yelp party (SCORE!), Target, and then scooting home, I suggested we delay our return in favor of lunch out. When she asked “where,” I replied “Crab Bowl” which is kind of an inside joke with us, it’s another place we have driven by thousands of times, and never stopped in. It’s on Barbur in SW PDX.
So off to Crab Bowl we went. She pulled into a parking slot and said “is it open?” The open sign was on, but the joint was dark and devoid of any activity. I said “I’ll check,” and went to try the door, fulling expecting it to be locked. But it wasn’t. I went in, yelled “hellooooooooooooo” (in my best “Tigger’ voice), and there was no reply. There was a light on in the kitchen, so I checked that out, as well. I went to the stairwell, and started upstairs, and did the Tigger call again. A woman’s voice answered “can I help you,” and I heard her start down the stairs.
When I finally spied her, I asked if they were open, and she replied “sure, sit anywhere.”
I went to open the front door and give the OK sign to Mrs. BDB, who came in.
We sat in a booth by the window, and surveyed the room. It’s chock a block full of excess furniture, mostly in the memoralbilia genre. Old radios and such, an ancient Singer sewing machine. They are either in the process of redecorating, moving in, or moving out. There were no lights on in the dining room, and it was chilly – tho a small gas fireplace in the corner had been turned on.
The woman brought menues and took our drink order. We perused the menu and lingered for a moment over the Crab Bowl – a melange of seafood, at $25 (add $2 to share), before Mrs. BDB chose the Maryland Crab Cakes with smash, and I opted for the burger, which had some superlative attached to the description, as well as “hand-formed patty.”
The woman busied herself in the kitchen as well as making a phone call, apparently seeking some guidance in preparing our food. About ten minutes later, a car pulled up in front, and a man got out, entered the restaurant, greeted us, and said “I’ll get the lights on and get you some eat.”
Our drinks arrived, an iced tea for Mrs BDB and a fountain Diet Coke for me.
Hustle and bustle continued behind the scenes in the kitchen, it would appear to the non-informed (like me), that the cooking was to be a team effort. Either the woman was not one of the regular cooks, or we had chosen two items she didn’t know how to prep.
I’m guessing it took about 40 minutes for our food to arrive. The man would periodically walk out and make small talk with us, mostly about the various antiques in the room. I inquired specifically about a 1950s vintage AMI jukebox, a subject that is of interest to me.
We really had zero expectations, based on our experience so far, in the restaurant. But guess what? We were blown away by the prep, quality, taste, and aesthetics of the presentation. The crab cakes were crab meaty, the real smash astonishingly creamy, and some steamed vegetables added a nice touch to Mrs. BDB’s selection.
The burger was pretty, hand-formed as promised, tasty, and smothered with Tillamook cheddar and a couple of amply thick slabs of bacon. It was complimented by a tab of mayo, lettuce and tomatoes, a good pickle spear, a pepper, and an orange wedge rested on the plate, as well as what the menu called “English fries”, I’ve more commonly seem them called “cottage fries”, or “home fries“, elsewhere, crisp, thick slices of whole potato. I like cottage/home/English fries as much as tater tots, and these I dug.
The meat patty was tasty in its own right. I liked it. Ultimately I dug being the only customers. In the process of writing this post, I looked at a lot of other online reviews from over the past several years, and they are certainly inconsistent. But that follows the old adage of “opinions are like xxxholes, everybody has one.” As do I. One can take any experience and find ways to nitpick how it was to them, and you have certainly seen me do that as well.
But as for Crab Bowl? I liked it.
Mrs BDB was hitting the road witht he gal pals tonight, which, as you know, means BurgerDogBoy gets a food self-indulgence night. Ok, yeah, you’re right, all my nights are pretty much self-indulgent nights. Even tho I had a pot of left over home made bolognese in my icebox, I had a hankering for Italian that someone else made, because I was exhausted from fooling with a Wii remote for half the afternoon, trying to coax it in to service, so Mrs. BDB and I might sword fight later in the evening.
I fired up Delivered Dish, Portland’s version of the multi-restaurant delivery service, and perused the Italian choices for my zip code. Just down the street from me is a place called “New York, New York”, which I have driven by a thousand times and never been in. My reasons for not trying it in the past are sort of inane, the building’s outward appearance is kind of ramshackle, and the windows, for some reason, give the appearance to the outside world of being absolutely filthy. They had a second location in Tigard, which is now closed, I believe.
I’ve had a number of great meals in my life in places that most people would call pretty disgusting (as I did too), so I shouldn’t have been predisposed not to eat here, I just was.
But I decided to try them out anyway, and went with my usual 3 meat pasta, spaghetti bolognese, with a side of sausage, and a side meatball. It came with a small loaf of warm bread, I ordered cheese bread with black olives, and I also ordered a gnocchi soup that I put in the cooler for Mrs. BDB later. She is a soup hound!
I plated. The pasta was done right, my personal preference would have been for far more meat sauce. It was cooked down from real tomatoes, which were still present, and had that residual watery debris in the pan that comes from cooking tomatoes. The sauce was mild but flavorful.
The meatball ($2.50 each) was the size of a baseball, and surely included the usual meatball fillers of egg and breadcrumbs, some dice onion, not sure what the combination of meat was, onion was the dominant flavor. The meatball was firm to the touch prior to launching into it, but crumbled easily, not a complete crumble, but certainly the sign that the meat was lean. The crumbliest meatball I have ever seen, and I can’t imagine how they are prepared, is at Venezia, an old timey place in New Orleans. Their larger than baseball-sized meatballs come intact when served, but once your fork touches them, they crumble into minced pieces on the plate. They are wonderful.
New York New York’s sausage was the ‘sweet’ Italian kind, again, very mild. The cheese bread was soft and chewy, with gooey real cheese, and canned black olives.
Delivered Dish tacks on a mild delivery charge, and I believe the restaurants jack the prices a little from their regular menus. Soup, bread, pasta with meat-sauce, side of sausage, side of meatball, $30.50 delivered. Spendy? Depends on your priorities. Tonight, for me, it was exactly the right price.
“As seen in Hamburger America, the book, on sale here!” proclaims the sign on the counter, directly in front of the dinosaur of a gentleman taking my order. I had heard this guy was a curmudgeon, but it takes one to know one, and he seemed ok to me.
Giant is located on Lower Boones Ferry Rd, on the cusp of the town of Lake Oswego, an uppity vanilla suburb of Portland, Oregon. I won’t tell you the slang name they have for the town, it’s so revolting. Surprising to me that in an hoity-toity burb a burger place good survive, but it’s been around a good long while, and appears to do a bustling lunch biz. In fact biz must be REALLY good, because there were two matching Escalades out back, which I assume belong to the owners, and weren’t just randomly parked there.
This building shape, I have seen this in various locations around Oregon, it must have been a chain at one time, but nobody asked knew, and not being a native, I have no knowledge of it either. Perhaps it was just because some “architect” got lucky.
In any case, this place regularly tops various local surveys for ‘best burger”, so I had to see what all the hubbub was about.
And what was the hubbub all about? Nada. Although another website purports Giant’s burgers are “extra-lean ground Black Angus beef brought in fresh daily,”” you couldn’t tell by me. Strip away the vegetables, condiments, and just like the highly (mis)acclaimed “In N Out”, you have a rather thin, ordinary, unseasoned beef patty.
The “Giant” may well refer to the buns, as they are over-sized, fresh, and sesame topped. They are served toasted, and mine had a “little something extra”, in that the top of the bun was scorched, and as such, I tossed it, but that’s ok, I’m trying to cut down on carbs, anyway.
I had the bacon cheeseburger, and a small fries, coming in at a flat six bucks. The bacon and cheese were fine, but again, nothing out of the ordinary. Chomp into the loaded burger (don’t you DARE ask for it to be customized to your liking), and what you get is your taste buds awash with red onion and mayo.
The fries were larger than shoestrings, smaller than dinner fries, and come completely unseasoned. Bowls of foil packets of ketchup adorn each table top.
One of the draws, apparently, is a special burger they call “The Filler”, which I might go back and try when I have a larger appetite day. It’s made up of two patties topped with bacon, ham, a large egg, tomato, lettuce, cheese, pickle and onion on a sesame seed bun. Now that sounds right. No mention of mayo, thank god.
On the same street, within a mile in either direction, you have a plethora of fast and casual food places. You’ll do just as well to stop at any of them rather than seek out Giant.
As far as bacon cheeseburgers in SW PDX, one would be better off at Humdinger on Barbur, or George’s Giant Burgers down 99w. BTW, Giant is “cash only.”