Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Screen Door

This was our second attempt to eat at the Screen Door. A couple of weeks ago we came by for the Sunday brunch. However, the line of customers came out the door and around the corner and it was raining that day. That is a good sign in my book but not that day. We just rolled on by. Tonight we were looking for some of the best southern fried chicken in town.

The restaurant featured a nice area for outside seating.

We chose to dine inside. It is fun to watch the employees practising their craft.

We arrived just before the restaurant opened for the evening and were in the dining room early. Around an hour later the place had only a couple of open tables.

Ok. I know this is the part for which you're waiting. The special on the chalk board sounded good but we'd come in for chicken. Debbie and I each ordered the fried chicken plate. It came with a nice glop of mashed potatoes and some ham gravy and a bit of cooked greens. I have to tell you that I'm a dark meat guy and usually only eat drumsticks and thighs and I was a little disappointed when I saw that my plate had a piece of breast on it. Don't stop reading yet! Oh my goodness! How did this magic happen? I have never had a better piece of chicken breast. The crust was delicious and the chicken interior was sooo juicy. I still don't know if this is the best fried chicken in Portland but there is something that I do know. This is the best chicken breast I ever ate. Hands down. I'd swear it in court. I suppose that means that almost no body knows how to properly cook a chicken breast. Well the folks down at the Screen Door know how and my suggestion to you is to try it yourself.

Friday, October 8, 2010


Earlier today we decided that once again we should venture out beyond our "safe zone". I suggested a destination to Debbie in an email but when I arrived at home she was busy on the net frantically searching for something, anything else. I told her that they appeared to have a couple of nice shrimp selections so she relented and off we headed to Eleni's.

This establishment features Greek or more specifically Cretian cuisine. The dining area was attractively decorated and the tables were adorned with white napkins but the expected attire appeared to be casual although we could have dressed up and been comfortable as well. We were a little early, perhaps 5:00 pm and the place was nearly empty. I get concerned when I arrive at a restaurant and no one else is there. However, as the evening grew later, more patrons began to arrive. The waiter was pleasant as he seated us. He quoted from memory about five specials that were being featured this evening. The menu was ala carte which always tends to give me pause. I prefer to just have to read the entree selection and what comes with it. Anyway, we each chose a salad and an entree. At first I thought it curious that the waiter then asked if I'd like some kind of rice and spinach dish. I thought that was weird but wisely received his council. Debbie also ordered a salad and an entree and he then suggested an addition. She took him up on it and I'd have to say that it was a good thing.

The first thing to arrive after our beverages of choice was a lovely plate of bread with an olive oil and kalamata olive dip. Kalamata olives are not Debbie's favorite but I loved it.

This was Debbie's salad selection.
Roma tomatoes, cucumber, green onion, peppers, olives and feta dressed in white balsamic and olive oil
I ate the last third of it. It was lovely!

My salad was the KRITIKIA SALATA $11
Tender mixed greens with tomatoes, English cucumber, peppers, mushrooms, avocado, onions and currants; dressed with a honey balsamic vinaigrette
It was absolutely delicious. Perhaps a bit sweet but it was a honey vinagrette after all.

This was Debbie's entree. Here is where the description gets a little dicey. I suspect that the pilaf bed that her shrimp arrived on was the suggestion made by the waiter. I can't determine by the menu what it was. It was good as I had a chance to finish off what she was unable to accomplish.

This blurred image (apologies offered)is the suggestion made by the waiter. Essentially, it was a rice and spinach dish. It was good. There was a lemony flavor complementing this dish.

This was my shrimp entree. It was wonderful but without the addition of the rice and spinach, would have left me hungry and probably a bit cranky.

Obviously the chef at Eleni's is a master and an artist. Art is not enough for me as I require a certain quantity as well. You know, we spent nearly $60.00. Without the opportunity to finish off Debbie's salad and entree, I would have left hungry and would have been completely bummed out. I noticed as I looked around the restaurant that there were about seven men and perhaps twenty or twenty-one women. I wonder if Eleni's is perhaps a bit heavy on the ambiance side and a bit weak on the quantity side. Look, the experience was a delight. The food looked and tasted outstanding but I hate it when I need to eat everybody elses food to feel satisfied. Just sayin'.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Observatory

It was Friday night around 6:00 pm. We were taking care of some business when we bumped into a couple of friends. Someone suggested that it was dinner time and our friends wondered if we had researched any new places to explore for this blog. I had been distracted with life events and hadn't even thought about eating out for a while. I quickly pulled out my Android mobile device and started searching for a place worthy of a visit within close proximity. I stumbled on the The Observatory. It sounded safe enough and was only four blocks or so away.

This was the view from the street. There were a small number of tables outside. When we ventured inside, we noticed the the place was small but busy. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. We were offered a table fairly quickly but our companions suggested to the hostess that it might be fun to eat outside and that we'd be willing to wait a few minutes for that opportunity. She pleasantly responded that that would be fine and she'd see how quickly she could get a table for us. We only waited another short while till one of the tables cleared and we were promptly seated.

The waitress was at the table shortly to deliver the menu and take beverage orders. We each chose water but being a bit hydrophobic I asked if she could supply lemon wedges and the quick response was "of course". One of our dinner companions asked if she could suggest a good value appetizer and she quickly replied that a great choice would be the Oregeno Fry Bread for $4.00. I have to say that the girls were each very attentive, friendly, helpful, and were well worth their wages.

My choice for an entree was the Roasted Pork Loin. Wow! It was so tender that I could cut it with a fork and the sauce was a splendid spiced apple flavor. It came with a couple of light polenta wedges and mustard greens. I ate every morsel on the plate. It was just a delicious dinner. The presentation was wonderful and I really would not suggest any changes.

Our companions chose to split a plate and it happened that it was the same selection as Debbie chose. I don't exactly remember the name because it was a special and is not on the menu. Essentially, it was a pasta dish with penne noodles and andouille sausage with a creamy tomato sauce. Our companions reported that they enjoyed the plate. Debbie wasn't as pleased with it as they were. I had the opportunity to finish off a significant portion of her plate and have to say that though I appreciated my primary selection better, her meal was still very good. You know, one must realize that different tastebuds often just react differently to food.

This "first contact" experience with this restaurant was certainly positive and I would recommend it wholeheartedly. I plan to revisit this establishment and investigate some of the other selections on the menu. I feel particularly fortunate that it is located reletively close to home.

Ok. This next picture probably doesn't belong on this post. Afterall, it wasn't taken at The Observatory. It was taken a few blocks away at a cute little pastery shop that we wandered into after dinner. We each tried a fun little cookie. Actually, it was two cookies with a creamy flavored filling between them. I don't remember what everyone else ate but mine was a couple of snickerdoodles with vanilla cream in between. Yumm!

Yes! This was a great evening filled with food, conversation, and friends.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pine State Biscuits

A friend recently asked if we had ever heard of Pine State Biscuits. Neither of us had so we decided to do a drive by.

Whoa! Sure didn't look like much from the outside. We determined that this place was just the sort of establishment that we needed to try. Adding to our interest was the fact that a line of people was forming outside the building onto the sidewalk. That's always a good sign.

As we get inside the door we notice that there are about four people behind the counter working feverishly. The menu is chalked up on a board hanging over the counter.

We look around the corner and discover that this place apparently only seats about a dozen patrons. Interesting! Being mildly claustrophobic and agoraphobic, I suggest that we get the biscuits to go and eat them in the car.

I ordered the deluxe "Reggie" which seems to be their pride and joy. It is also the first item on the menu.
Debbie's selection was the Reggie, though not deluxe. The only difference between the two orders was the egg on my "deluxe" biscuit.

Anyway, the Reggie is made of a wonderful biscuit with a slab of fried chicken breast, bacon, cheese, and sausage gravy and, of course, an egg if you order the deluxe version.

We each thoroughly enjoyed our selections and our appetites were completely satiated. In fact, I had to finish off a portion of Debbie's biscuit which she would have been unable to finish. This is not the sort of place for the stringently health conscious. It is Southern comfort food in its truest form. I can't imagine what person could have tasted that item and not been completely intoxicated by the flavors. I will give a thumbs up on this place as our experience was pleasent. I understand, however, that a visit on the week-end often requires a significant wait in the line. Oh well, sometimes the best things are the ones for which we wait the longest!

Friday, August 20, 2010


Once again we have dined outside the box, as it were, and lived to dine again another day!

This time the cuisine was from India. We chose a small restaurant in NW Portland called Swagat. It had a kind of quaint, friendly look on the outside. The host greeted us as we entered and promptly seated us in the dining area. There were only a few other guests but that was certainly ok because the dining room wasn't a really large place anyway. Very quickly the waitress was at the table ready to take our beverage order and to place a tray of three different sauces on our table.

We admitted our ignorance of Indian cuisine early on and she patiently explained the various terms, types of food, and how it is normally enjoyed.

We each received a cracker like this and were told it was proper to dip it in the various sauces which we did. It was good. I am a bit more tolerant of spices than Debbie. The green sauce was the hottest but it was good. I think she was ok with it too. She did comment that the cracker was good and I completely concurred with that assessment.

We decided that we should at least try an appetizer. We chose the assorted vegetable pakoras. The vegetables came in a deep fried batter cocoon so it was sometimes difficult to identify each but I'm guessing that at least one was a slice of potato, perhaps a slice of eggplant, a couple of varieties of pepper, and some onions. This was very good and also dipped well in our three sauces. I am afraid that we were becoming full by the time we completed our appetizer and perhaps weren't hungry enough to truly enjoy our entree to it fullest.

This was Debbie's choice. It was called Chicken Saag. Essentially, it is chunks of chicken breast cooked in a mild spinach curry.

My selection, far more spicy I might add, was called Lamb Karai. It was lamb cooked in a tomato and green pepper curry.

This is the bread that was served with the meal. I believe it is called naan. It was a lot like a pancake. Apparently, the dough is splattered on the brick oven to cook. It was good and relieved the effects of the spices on my tongue.

This image portraits the two desert selections that were included in the price of the meal. Debbie chose the white rice pudding. It was tasty, kind of thin, and an appropriate end to this meal. My choice was the pastry. Essentially, it was a cake doughnut hole with a thin honey sauce spread over the top. It was good and if I hadn't already had far too much to eat I would have enjoyed it more.

The service was fine. I believe the food was good as well. Debbie is not a friend of curry generally and though I can appreciate curry, I was too full to enjoy my entree to its fullest. Actually, we brought significant portions home and I enjoyed it far more the second night. I have to think that it was good both nights and that overeating on the first night tainted my overall opinion. I would encourage you to try the Swagat and see for yourselves.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


I was grateful that it was once again time to go out and find a new establishment to try. Somehow, it seemed like it had been a long time since our last post and I was looking forward to this visit. We were out Friday doing a little hobby income business when it occurred to us that it was past dinner time, we were hungry, and the outside temperature was somewhere in the nineties. Cooking didn't sound like a great idea so we chose to go "exploring".

We thought between us for a few moments and then the suggestion of German cuisine was offered and agreed upon. Gustav's is an off shoot of the Rheinlander but is a bit more casual. That was perfect as we weren't exactly dressed to the "T" if you know what I mean. When we arrived, we noticed that the parking lot was full which is always a good sign. Of course, here in Portland Gustav's patrons share parking with Rheinlander patrons. I probably should note that there are four Gustav's located in the greater Portland area if one includes the Vancouver, WA annex across the river and the Washington Square location on the westside.

We entered the doors and gave our name to the hostess. At this point we were asked our preference between eating inside or out. We chose outside but somehow the wires got crossed and they ultimately seated us inside which to be honest was probably better due to the ambient temperature outside. It probably took 20 minutes to seat us which I think is pretty good on a Friday evening at around 6:00 pm.

The waiter was friendly, helpful and knowlegable regarding the menu. We chose to start the evening with the swiss cheese fondue. It comes with at least three different european style breads to enjoy.

Debbie's selection was:
Mushroom schnitzel ~ grilled chicken breast & portabella mushroom, roasted garlic, feta cheese 13.95
She enjoyed her meal and I also got the opportunity to appreciate a taste of the mushrooms and the chicken. I concurred wholeheartedly with her opinion. It was delightful!

My selection was:
Jagerschnitzel ~ top round veal or chicken breast grilled, with shiitake, button and oyster mushrooms, creamy paprika sauce and seasonal vegetables (veal 15.25,
chicken 13.25)
In english it means hunter's schnitzel. I chose the veal as (don't tell anyone) I had never had veal before. It was tender, flavorful, and a true joy to consume. My plate also came with green beans which were done perfectly to my palate and spatzel, an egg noodle starchy food that was ok I guess. It apparently is popular in some of the middle european countries. To me, they were like tiny doughy dumplings. They weren't bad, only different than food to which I am normally accustomed.

Overall, the experience was completely pleasant. We were never rushed which I always appreciate when I am eating. I would go again in a minute and believe that I can recommend this place without reservations.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ya Hala

I have been wanting to branch out of our comfort zone a bit and try some ethnic cuisine which might include flavors and sensations outside of what we normally partake. I believe that we breached our safety zone last evening with cuisine from Lebanon and we emerged from the doors of the restaurant with pleased palates. In fact, due to the copious quantities and our desires to taste each of the items set before us, we came away a bit over full. The host generously offered us carry out boxes so we can continue our enjoyment at home.

Not being at all familiar with the items offered in the
menu, we asked our server to help us with our choices which she did with a pleasant smile. We started with a mezza selection which is an appetizer apparently. We chose the Veggie Mezza. It was an assortment of various finger foods, pastes, and what we normally call salsa to be eaten with the wonderfully freshly baked pita bread. That was where the over eating began. The flavors were delightful and in essence, we ate too much bread at the very beginning.

Freshly baked pita bread. They brought more after we ate the first two.

Here is the homous. It is a paste made of garbanzo beans with various additional ingredients to enhance and complete the dish. The Baba Ghanouj looked nearly the same but its main ingredient is eggplant. Click on the image above with all of the mezze plates pictured together for a better look at the subtle color differences. The flavor, of course, was far more distinct but each was good in its own way.

This mezze dish was called Tabouli. As I mentioned earlier, it is much the same as what we call Salsa. It, too, went well with the pita.

Our last mezze plate featured Aranabeet which essentially is a piece of quickly deep fried cauliflower. It is not my favorite choice of vegetable but I ate it and am still here today to report that it really wasn't that bad. This plate also featured a couple of grape leaf wraps. They were good. I have no idea what was in them. It was a bit like eating a pickle but not really. I would certainly eat them again. The final two items on this dish were called Falafel. These are apparently a deep fried dumpling made of finely ground garbanzo beans. I ate one and it was good but I was already beginning to suffer from over-indulgence so the flavor was some-what wasted on my palate. I brought one home so perhaps if it retains its characteristics through to the next day, I will know better how good they were.

There was one thing that I wanted to mention but was hesitant to place it at the end of this post because I prefer being able to end on a high note. Debbie ordered lemonade. The menu describes it as lemonade with orange blossom water. She let me have a taste because it was just so weird. It was like someone poured perfume into the drink. I had to agree with her that it just didn't taste good. Ok, let's get back to the things we really enjoyed.

Our entrees each came with an green salad topped with a vinagrette.

Debbie chose a chicken kabob on a bed of rice. She could have chosen beef or lamb but I suspect that she felt that chicken was a "safe bet".

My choice was a couple of lamb shanks in a nice sauce with the rice on the side. It was very interesting that the lamb was cooked in such a way that the distinct lamb flavor was somewhat more subtle than it often is. The dish was garnished with mint which is also different to me. I really haven't experienced it with savory dishes before. It was good and I am looking forward to my plate of leftovers.

I am confident that we will eat here again. I'm pretty sure that even with some of her reservations about certain unusual foods, even Debbie enjoyed her meal. Perhaps next time it would be prudent to only order selections from the mezza list. It would be much more economical as well although now that I've said that I should mention that we got out of there for less than $50.00 and brought home enough to eat a light meal later. I think it would be worth the trip for you if you're in the area.