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Portland, OR – Davis Street Tavern

Davis Street Tavern, Portland OR

Davis Street Tavern, Portland OR

Mr. Hot Shot Portland business lawyer Will Du Val and I ventured down 5th Street looking for  mild repast, and passed by Hamburger Mary’s and Theo’s in favor of Davis Street – a joint neither of us had experienced, but both of us had heard good things.  From whence, we do not recall.

Neither of us seemed to be in the mood for a “food experience” but rather the mundane task or eating to live (not living to eat).

So we did, perusing the menu and each of selecting 3 or 4 things we couldn’t live without, before figuratively throwing darts at a disinterested waiter.

The lunch menu is:

Davis Street Tavern Menu, Portland

Davis Street Tavern Menu, Portland

 The attorney at the table went with the Mac n Cheese, after dithering over possibly selecting the fish tacos.   I sample his pasta, and it was downright tasty. It was labeled “three cheese bechamel”, and at least one of the fromages was on the tangier side which gave the noodles a nice bite.

And BurgerDogBoy?  I really, really DID think of ordering something else, but I got the burger, adorned with Tillamook sharp and braised pig belly ( a tasty ham-like cut).  The burger was prepared as specified with an ultra-soft yet study sesame bun, that I have sampled before on other Portland burgers, so probably a selection from one of our great artisan bakers.  Garnish included paper thin pickle chips, perhaps house-cured, slightly sweet., shredded lettuce, and “tomato jam.”  

Fries were thin and crispy.  Curiousity note:  Once again, another eatery w/o salt & pepper on the table.

Service was ‘business lunch perfunctory”, and today, that’s all we were looking for.

I’ll try them again.

Davis Street Tavern Cheeseburger

Davis Street Tavern Cheeseburger

Davis Street Tavern on Urbanspoon

Portland, OR – Lucy’s Table

Lucy's Table, Portland

Lucy's Table, Portland

Portland deal maker attorney William Du Val and I had scheduled on of our regular “lunch conferences”, and today we hit Lucy’s Table in the Uptown neighborhood of Portland.

Lucy’s has been around awhile, and constantly gets rave reviews, tho often the reviews have to do with the “romantic ambiance” as much as the creative cuisine.

Portland is an ultra-casual town, and when one dines out in cut-offs and flip flops, one can probably find “romantic ambiance” at IHOP.  I guess.

An open room, with a small bar, Lucy’s is well appointed, but at the same time, there is lots of glass, so today, in the bright light, romance eluded me. (smiley face).

Lucy’s describes themselves thusly:  “Hybrid tastes of Morocco, Spain, Italy, Greece and Asia and freshly prepared with fresh northwest meats and seafood.”   And they hit the mark every time.

Our server was very knowledgeable about the menu, and when he didn’t know an answer, he quickly got one from the kitchen.  Du Val went with the burger, and pronounced it spectacular.  I would have echoed his order, but passed on the burger when I saw these three words:  “whole wheat bun.”

Nah, not for me.

So I went with the French dip, because the menu description included one of my favorite words, “baguette.”  It was described as roasted rib-eye with horseradish sauce and jus.  It was damned near perfect, tho I would have preferred (and paid for) a double meat portion.

Lucy's Table "Chick pea fries"

Lucy's Table "Chick pea fries"

The house-made (regular) fries, ala carte, were perfect, and came

with a whole grain mustard aioli.   I boldly went for the ‘chick pea fries’ because I had never heard of these before, and the server described them as chick pea flour, allowed to set up, cut into strips, and deep-fried.  They were accompanied by harissa aioli, which was very interested.    I liked these, even tho they have the texture of an extruded potato product, but granted, a lot of people like that.

As Mrs. BDB often brings me home treats, it was my turn today, and I took her the Butternut Squash Soup with Truffled Creme Fraiche, and a slice of the flourless chocolate cake.  No report on those yet, but I do hear chewing noises from upstairs!

I am sure they were both spectacular.   I’m eager to return to Lucy’s Table, something I don’t say that often in Portland.

But I’ll go at night, when it’s dark, seeking out that romantic ambiance.

Lucy's Table French Dip

Lucy's Table French Dip

Lucy's Table on Urbanspoon

Portland, Or – Nostrana

Local Portland business Attorney, Will Du Val, and his better half, ok, 2/3, Victoria, invited us out for some holiday cheer last night, and their choice was Nostrana, the locavore-oriented Italian place on SE Morrison. It’s always been a hang-out of theirs since the early days of couple-dom (2nd anniversary coming up Jan 1, if you want to send gifts), and I quickly saw why it’s special to them.

With a menu that changes nearly nightly, Nostrana is one of those places which has taken local ingredients to ethnic dish variations, with a vengence, resulting in a wide variety of interesting offerings.

It becomes a study in juxtapositions. One notices this right off, when you enter the cavernous, high-ceiling room, which is huge and intimate at the same time. Mrs. BurgerDogBoy said the wood beams reminded her of an upside-down Noah’s ark. To me, it said “Aspen Apres Ski” motif.

An open bar, kitchen, and the wood burning ovens are the centerpieces of the room.

The menu is limited by seasonal availabilites of ingredients, and that’s not a bad thing. Rather than trying to offer the sun, moon and stars to suit every single diners’ tastes, Nostrana limits what they do, and in turn, that means what they do prepare, they do well.

Interesting starters last nite included garlic roasted cabbage, and a plate of an orange/onion salad. I favored both.

The Du Vals went for the flat iron steaks, prepared, by waitress mandate either “medium rare or rare”, and the result was a wonderfully flavorful piece of beef.

Mrs. BurgerDogBoy went for gnocchi (served only on Thursday nites), with a basil pesto ‘sauce’ that was heavy on the herbs, and light on the sauce, a nice change. Savoring each delicate potato pillow, she opted to bring a big portion of it home, surely destined for the breakfast table this morning.

And, choosing for me, Mrs. BDB ordered  a fennel sausage pizza, great cheese, great sauce, larger than I would have suspected, crispy and bubbling out of the wood-fired oven, Neapolitan style.

Undoubtedly one of the best pies Portland has to offer.

I know we’ll be back as the seasons change, to sample more of this chef wunderkind’s masterpieces. I heartily recommend reservations, as the place was jammed early in the evening. We were somehow blessed with the corner booth (no doubt due to the Du Val’s influence in this burg), which was just great, for permitting a view of the entire room and kitchen operation both.

Service? Uneven. But not so much as to dampen the entire experience.

Thanks B and V for sharing a wonderful night, and a place so special to you.

(Yes, I know, I can’t believe I didn’t shoot the pic before taking a slice, either!  But it looked sooooooooooo good!)

Nostrana, Portland

Nostrana, Portland

Nostrana on Urbanspoon

Portland, OR – Return to the Original Dinerant

Deluxe Burger, The Original, Portland

Deluxe Burger, The Original, Portland

Returned to The Original in downtown Portland, was last there about sixteen months ago.   Been a few changes on the menu, some of the more innovative dishes appear to have vanished;  I guess that’s not so hard to understand, a lot of online reviews kind of panned those efforts, but I don’t know why.   A chef has to stretch his legs once and awhile.

A lot more emphasis on coffee shop food, these days, and they are closed in the slow hours between meals.  I went with the Deluxe Burger, cascade natural beef, fried onions, blue cheese, gruyere for 10.95.  Upgraded from fries to the poutine for an additional $2.

The other half of the Dive Dining Duo, Portland attorney William Du Val, went with the regular burger, sans cheese. Both of us ordered them medium rare, Du Val had a small Caesar on the side, in quest of a strong garlicky Caesar dressing, the server said it wasn’t very garlicky, but Will plunged ahead in any case. Bold move, my friend. The poutine was amply gravied, as I had asked the server to tell the chef to be generous with same. I guess he figured that being overly generous with gravy meant he could skimp on the curds, which were few and far between. I believe I had that same experience my first visit.

The burgers were prepared exactly as ordered, and while mine was supposed to be laden with both Gruyere and Gorgonzola, the latter wasn’t present in a detecable amount. Du Val thought that the Cascade Beef patties were super grand, once he added a little bit of NaCl. (Oh, stop laughing, Mrs. BDB, in fact I did NOT salt my burger!)

Note to chef: At medium rare, the Cascade puts out enough juice to make the bun less than supportive for the sandwich, particularly in the southern hemisphere. You might want to rethink those buns. But granted, they are delicious.

Would I return? Sure. My recollection is that I was not too impressed with the service before, but today it was just fine. As were the burgers, and as always, the company.

Deluxe Burger at The Original, Portland

Deluxe Burger at The Original, Portland

Menus are online.

The Original: A Dinerant on Urbanspoon

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