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Posts Tagged ‘Portland Dinner’

Portland, OR – Caro Amico Reprise


I’d always meant to get to Caro Amico with Mrs. Burgerdogboy for a romantic dinner;   we thought it might be great because we had enjoyed their food via Delivered Dish (  and its position, on a hillside overlooking the river, might have made for some dreamy views.

We never got there as a couple, but I was spot on about my feelings with regards to all the rest, as evidenced by this report from a recent visit.

Cara Amico Portland“We loved the place, liked the big windows, the view and fantastic atmosphere; the service was great, the waiter friendly.

We started with the Caesar with prawns, which was romaine lightly dressed with olive oil, rather than a typical Caesar dressing, and the prawns were warm with a hint of garlic flavor.  The entire salad was generously dusted with Parmesan and finely chopped croutons.

For our mains, he went with Chicken Parmesan, one of his favorite meals, which was a large plump breast, very juicy, served with a colorful array of sautéed veggies, and penne with marinara.    The breading on the chicken was light, not overbearing, and the breast may have been brined ahead of time for extra flavor.

Cara Amico

Chicken Parmesan

She opted for the Canzano Calzone, stuffed with chicken, bacon, green peppers and pepperoncini.   The crust was thin and crisp, and the marinara was some of the finest she had ever consumed.  She would have liked a bowl of it all on its own, she said.

For dessert, we went with the dense and delicious cheesecake, topped with whipped crème and a raspberry sauce so yummy she wanted to lick the plate clean.

Often overlooked by locals, even though it was Portland’s first Italian restaurant, it continues to please on every level.”

Previous review.


Cara Amico

Caesar with Shrimp

Caro Amico Italian Cafe on Urbanspoon


Caro Amico Portland


Portland, OR – Murder Mystery Theater


When does an experience deserve a “A for effort?” .  Such is the case for the Portland Murder Mystery, held at the Refectory Restaurant numerous times each month.

The mystery theme was “Til Death” – a take on a wedding day gone wrong.  Somebody might end up dead!

The evening includes a 3 course dinner and the entertainment, drinks and tips are extra.

Some members of the “cast” are chosen from the tables of diners, and each is given a bit of background information on their character and the caper.   During the course of the evening, participants can wander from table to table, play investigator, ask questions, to seek out clues to solve the mystery.

It’s fun, it’s live, it’s interactive.  You can participate or observe.

Dinner was what one might expect from a banquet type facility, good enough for a situation like this.  There was a choice of three entrees, pork, chicken, or vegetarian lasagna, served with salad, bread basket, and dessert.

Service was good.

Mrs. Burgerdogboy had arranged our evening, and had some trepidation about how receptive I’d be – as I tend to live a hermit like existence.  But I enjoyed it.  I’d go again.  You should too.

The Portland Mystery Theater performs regularly, and is also available for private parties and corporation functions.  Check out their schedule or book an event on their website.

Portland Murder Mystery Refectory

Burgundy Pork, Roasted Potatoes

Portland Murder Mystery

Cast members

Refectory Steakhouse & Lounge on Urbanspoon


Ronald McDonald House Benefit at Le Cordon Bleu


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.


Prawn Fritters at Le Cordon Bleu Portland

Prawn Fritters

Le Cordon Bleu Portland

State of the art demo classroom Le Cordon Bleu Portland

Technique at Le Cordon Bleu on Urbanspoon


Portland, OR – Sayler’s Old Country Kitchen (Review)


Sayler's Old Country KitchenI was thinking about my infatuation with “old-timey” places as we were seated; is it because I’ve become old-timey myself? Or does eating in places like this evoke some nostalgic memory in me? I really can’t say. I just like places that are at least 40-50 years old, I guess it proves to me they are doing something right.

What’s the best thing about Sayler’s? Well, in my mind, it’s that you can feed two people a complete steak dinner for about the same price you’d spend at one of the “majors” (Mortons, Ruth’s Chris, Ringside) for one diner.

What’s a “complete dinner?” Well, at Sayler’s, in the old-timey tradition, the cost of your entree includes, bread (with both garlic melted and pat butter), a relish tray (who serves those anymore, anyway?), soup or salad, a side, and dessert.

The relish tray was comprised of celery and carrot sticks, olives, pickled baby corn and the like. A nice touch.

Mrs. Burgerdogboy went with the t-bone, and I had what would be called a “petite filet” at most places, 6oz. The t-bone was massive by most diner’s measure. The steaks were prepared precisely as ordered in the doneness category.

This is a massive place that has been around ‘forver.’ Service was prompt and enthusiastic. They have a couple of private rooms as well, if you’re contemplating a small private gathering.

The meat quality was far above average, and we started the whole feast with a 1/2 order of their onion rings, which were crisp and tasty, served with a dipping sauce.

The “damage?” Onion rings, crab cocktail, relish tray, salads, two steaks, veggie, loaded baked potato, two deserts, three cocktails, one beer: $85. As I stated earlier, the same would cost you double at one of the ‘big names.’

No complaints at all. Not a single one.

From one old-timey (me) to another (Sayler’s), thanks for sticking around.

Sayler's Old Country Kitchen

Sayler's Old Country Kitchen on Urbanspoon


Portland, OR – Woodsman Tavern


Woodsman Tavern, Portland, ORLook, down in Southeast! It’s a bar! It’s a restaurant! It’s a tavern! According to Wikipedia, a tavern is a business establishment where people gather to be served drinks and food. Back where I come from (no, it’s not Kansas, Dorothy), a tavern is a place that sells low alcohol beer, and the food ranges from pickled eggs to microwave pizzas.

Neither of these definitions are apt to describe the Woodsman, an effort by Stumptown Coffee founder Duane Sorenson, and in fact, the Woodsman is next to the original Stumptown location, which debuted in 1999.Sorenson is often credited with being the godfather of the ‘next wave’ of coffee roasters and purveyors, and his Stumptown went on to open in other cities, and attract a large investment from a prominent private equity group.

The Woodsman serves creative Americana cuisine, and matches it with equally creative cocktails.

The stars of the show are American artisan hams and Pacific NW oysters, an unlikely pairing, it would seem, but one that works in the diners favor.

Mrs. Burgerdogboy and I were celebrating our wedding anniversary, and I made reservations through Open Table, which I always use (and you should too!).

Mrs. BDB started her ordering with one of Woodsman’s signature cocktails, the “Omaha Sour”, comprised of bourbon, lime juice, lavender, and vanilla sugar. A discriminating cocktailer, Mrs. BDB pronounced it fine, and polished off a couple.  I went with a Czechvar beer, which has been brewed in Bohemia continuously since the beginning of recorded history. The beer and cocktail clocked in at a reasonable $3 and $9, respectively.

On to the appetizers (“drinking snacks” on the menu), the Woodsman offers four at dinner, and we sampled them all: deviled eggs, deer sausage ‘pigs in a blanket’, Fried Pork Nuggets, and a Smoked Salmon Rillettes and pickled herring sampler.  All were tasty and aesthetically pleasing, my favorite was the deer sausage (in fact, we gathered some up from the Woodsman market, next door, on the way home), and the Mrs. enjoyed the pickled herring.

Next mi’ lady went with a dozen oysters, sampling 3 each of 4 different regional oysters, tops for me on the platter was the local Yaquina.   The oysters are spendy at $16 for 6, which is slightly more than other offerings locally, and since we moved to Portland from New Orleans, a bit of a hard swallow to us, on the price, where for $32 in NOLA, we could have consumed, depending on venue, anywhere from 48 – 128 oysters!   Nevertheless, Woodsman’s selections were superb.

I opted for the ham plate, a sampling  of four different American “prosciutto style” artisan hams;  from hog butchers in Iowa, NC, KY, and TN.  They are arranged in particular order on the plate, and our over the top competent and congenial server “Senna” recommended we consume them in order of ‘saltiness’, from left to right, and we might have, except of course, I opted to jump right to the end, looking for the most flavorful ham on the platter.

Especially high praise from me for the Iowa offering, La Quercia, as a former Iowa resident and terribly fond of anything pork that comes out of that state.

But they were all good.   As an afterthought, Mrs. BDB thought I needed an order of fries, which come with a  sriracha mayo providing a bit of kick as a condiment.  (Sriracha is a type of Thai hot sauce, made from chili peppers, vinegar, sugar and salt).

We polished off our evening repast with the Kale Caesar (tres European!), and it was a salad easy on the eyes and palate.  We lacked the capacity to even try the mains, but many of them sound intriguing, including the trout, and the “rabbit and biscuit.”   Note:  said biscuit came along with the ham plate, and was light, flaky, and imparted a nice smoky flavor as well.

Total tab for the evening, $120, including tip.   Some local reviews I have read have called it a “spendy” place, but we were more than satisfied.

There were no leftovers to take home, though both Mrs BDB and I would have been happy to invite server Senna out for an evening of sin and whimsy.  Her attention, knowledge and personality boosted great food to a memorable evening, and for that, we thank her.

Woodsman Tavern, Portland, Oregon

The Woodsman Tavern on Urbanspoon


Portland, OR – Sho Japanese Restaurant


This is our “go to” neighborhood sushi place. Mrs. Burgerdogboy loves to get her sushi on, and Sho (formerly an outlet of KOJI) fills the bill with fresh, made-to-order sushi  at a nominal price.

Mrs. BDB always gets the deluxe sushi assortment, which comes with a variety of pieces and miso;  I generally go for the panko chicken breast dinner, which comes with (wait for it) – a  helluvalot of chicken strips, miso, 4 pieces of california roll, a green salad, potato salad (?) and rice.   We escape for less than $35.

We’re both happy with the joint, and have also dined in on occasion; the service is usually fast and courteous, the restaurant is clean.  SHO has a full bar, an adequate wine list, and over 20 varieties of saki.

They are open for lunch and dinner seven days, later on Friday and Saturday.   We recommend you patronize these nice people when you are in SW.

Sho Japanese, Portland, OR

Sho on Urbanspoon


Portland, OR – Beijing Hot Pot


Beijing Hot Pot Portland OregonI have to admit loving places where the attraction is “something to do or look at” in addition to great food, and Beijing Hot Pot sure meets that criteria.

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.

Beijing Hot Pot Portland Oregon


Beijing Hot Pot on Urbanspoon


Portland, OR – Mac! Mac and Cheesery


Mac! Mac and CheeseryI had an urge to roast coffee today, and so I stopped by my bean purveyor of choice, Mr. Green Beans, on N. Mississippi in Portland.

On the way out, I noticed a new next door neighbor (new to me), which is called Mac! Mac and Cheesery, and I thought to myself, “Self, you’re on your way home, and who loves mac n cheese more than Mrs. Burgerdogboy? No one!). So I ambled in and perused the menu.

Myriad of combos await the discerning m & c lover, with “original” topping the list, but you may avail yourself of numerous ingredients to blend in – whether your taste buds tingle for truffles, or you salivate for “Southwestern”, have a vice for vegan, or brag about bacon.

I went with original with bacon, noting that the “b” word at our house is spoken in hushed tones, we hold it in such high regard.

I texted Mrs. BDB (not while driving!) that I was on my way home with a yummy, and delivered it to her in her home office.

She loved it, not only because it’s great mac n cheese, and had delicious pork parts in it, but also because it resembles the “baked kind” in that the top is sprinkled with bread crumbs and slightly browned.

I was offered a morsel or two, and I believe this to be a fine product, worthy of your attention. The shop also has sandwiches, burgers, and dogs, which will require an in-house visit for a complete and thorough examination.

Did I mention they have cocktails? I did not. They do. When Mrs. BDB and I get in there for a sit down repast, I predict a long and enjoyable day.

Now I’m off to roast coffee beans.

Mac! Mac and Cheesery, Portland, Oregon

Mac! Mac & Cheesery on Urbanspoon


Portland, OR – Horn of Africa Restaurant


Met my pal here for the lunch buffet today, it’s a bargain at about $8, and enough variety to satisfy whatever kind of “vore” you are.

I had curried goat, the minced beef casserole common to that region, greens, hummus, bideena bread, hibiscus tea.

Picked up a cup of soup and the falafel plate to bring home to Mrs. BurgerDogBoy, which included bideena, pita, hummus, tabouli as well.

It’s obviously a kind of hybrid menu, with both African and Mediterranean dishes, they do have some offerings which are more “family style”, if you want to go the whole sharing route.

I really enjoyed it.  Ample free off-street parking in back, as well.

My plate runneth over.

Horn of Africa Restaurant Portland

Horn of Africa on Urbanspoon


Portland, OR – Departure Restaurant and Lounge


Departure Restaurant Portland Oregon“Dressed to the nines” – is a riff on an old English idiom, which means “to perfection” or “to the highest degree.” Basically, putting on your best duds in order to impress.

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.

Departure on Urbanspoon


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