Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Jam on Hawthorne Cafe and Arthouse

I've written a couple of times about our visits to Grand Central Bakery. Whenever we've been to the Hawthorne location we've been amazed by the apparent crowds of people waiting to be seated at a little restaurant across the street. As it turned out, this last weekend we were at the bakery again and this time it looked like there wasn't a huge line across the street so on a whim we jaywalked across and entered the doors.

Now this place is anything but fancy but don't let that discourage you. There are secrets hiding behind all of that plain Jane decor.

We quizzed one of the servers (each of the wait staff that we interacted with was friendly and helpful) regarding the restaurants current situation. Apparently, they recently expanded into the space next door. The city gave them trouble about modifying the walls so they just went ahead and decided to use both spaces without taking out the connecting wall. The espresso maker is still in the original unit so if a patron orders one the waiter walks outside and east a few steps and makes one and brings it back to you. You just have to shake your head when you think about how difficult Portland tries to make it for the small business person. OK, I digress.

You're probably wondering what kind of secrets lie inside the restaurant. The menu was pretty diverse. There were a lot of interesting options including a number of vegan possibilities. I, however, am a carnivore and tend to look for food made at least in part with meat. My dining companion, Debbie and I each chose something called a scramble though they each had different ingredients other than the eggs, of course.

Unfortunately, the restaurant doesn't have a web site for me to offer a link to their menu.

All I can say is that the food was really good and there was far too much for either of us to finish our portions. We inquired as to whether or not they would offer a half plate if it were requested and we were pleased to hear that they would be happy to serve half portions. That is good because normal people just couldn't possibly want to eat all of that food in one sitting.

Oh yeah! Since they don't have a web site yet, let me just add their address. This place is located in Southeast Portland at: 2239 Se Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97214

Sunday, November 27, 2011

4th Street Brewing Company

The other night we took our 19 year old to Sandy, OR so he could watch a play that a friend of his was in. We were a bit hesitant to drive all the way out to Sandy, back home, and then all the way out to Sandy again. In lieu of all of that driving, we decided to kill some time in Gresham, OR. We had two stops to make but more time than that to kill so realizing that it was way past dinner time we decided to troll for a place to eat. Using my cool Android phone, I discovered a place nearby that had potential. It is called The 4th Street Brewing Company. My wife who is my regular dining companion thought I was being kind of coy when she asked where we were going and I responded "4th street".

Well we pulled up to this establishment and noticed that the parking lot was full. Of course that is always an encouraging sign. We walked in and it appeared that there was a choice of restaurant seating or an even more casual kind of bar seating. The bar area was where the tv monitors were tuned in to an apparent football game. It sounded like a fun place immediately as every once in a while a cheer would sound. Apparently, there had been a great play or perhaps even a score. I don't know, we were there to eat.

We were not prepared to spend a lot of money, however, so our eyes drifted to the part of the menu that was a little more on the casual side. There were some selections that sounded really good that were a little more than we wanted to spend that night. Maybe next time.

I know it doesn't make good blogging fodder, but we both chose the same item off of the menu. It was the Black and Bleu Cask Burger.

It came looking great and it was very tasty with the emphasis on black pepper but what surprised me to the core was the fries. I don't know what they did to them and I'll need to return to verify that it wasn't some sort of anomily, but they were arguably, the best fries that I've ever tasted. I can't begin to describe to you how wonderful they were in my mouth.

We didn't eat everything off of our plate and asked for a take home box. Our thoughts were to share our dinner with our kid, Jonathan, when we picked him up from the play. His immediate comment upon tasting the food was "Oh my goodness, these fries are great. Where did you get them?" Enough said, we have to go back there and order something that comes with fries. I mean, I have to know. Was it some sort of anomoly or are those the best fries in the world. One of these days I'm definately going back to check out those fries. I'll let you know how it went.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Wild Wood Cafe On Main

Today was a rather unusual Saturday. Normally, our Saturdays consist of a series stressful competitions with other antique dealers to aquire a collection of desirable items to which we can attach a price that will bring a desirable profit.
Well, today the prospects looked a little grim and besides we had another responsibility that was equally pressing for priority. Our son had a meeting planned with another person and needed transportantion to downtown Gresham. Interestingly enough, we don't often find ourselves in downtown Gresham.

While we were there we noticed a farmers market and decided to wander around a bit.

Afterwards, we needed to kill a little time and chose to wander in to a little restaurant that we saw along the way. It was called the Wild Wood Cafe. It was a pleasant little establishment. The wait staff consisted of a couple of older women but they were both effective and attentive to their customers. The menu was not complicated but had an adequate variety of choices. We each found something desirable, and ordered our choices. Mine was a chicken fried steak
selection that was very good.

My dining companion selected an omlette that was a true delight to her pallet.

The prices were average and the fare was very nice. I would have to say that given another opportunity to enter to doors of the Wildwood Cafe, I would not hesitate and would in fact, boldly go where I have ventured before.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Stepping Stone Cafe

Do you ever watch the travel channel? We like to stream our tv content from Netfix and happened upon a show called Man vs. Food. The host of the show, a guy named Adam Richman goes around to various eating establishments and takes on food challenges ranging from quantities that would feed normal people for a week to perhaps plates that are so spicy that they might peal the skin off of the average tongue. When he was in Portland, Adam visited a little joint called The Stepping Stone Cafe. That is where we found ourselves this morning.

Now to be perfectly honest, this place does not create a great first impression. I mean there is a hand written sign on the door telling us that we are supposed to wait outside and the list to get in the place is taped to a window.

I mean, what is that about? The next impression to greet us once we got inside the place was that the place was badly in need of general maintenance. I'm talking bare sheets of plywood and missing tiles in the floor. I was thinking to myself that this place is one visit from the health inspector from getting shut down. It was like this place was banking its whole existance on a chance encounter with a celebrity from the Travel Channel.

Well, thankfully, it's not all about first impressions. We were quickly asked what we'd like to drink and our coffee was brought promptly. The menu was obviously well used but there were a number of interesting selections and we each chose one albeit not the "Man Cakes" as featured on Man vs. Food. Debbie chose the Chicken Scramble for $8.75

and mine was an Absolute Omelet for $9.00.

They arrived a bit sooner than I expected but they looked and smelled great. To be perfectly candid they tasted equally as good. I was eager to finish the entire plate and in this personal episode of man versus food, man won. Sorry Adam for borrowing your line.

To finish this post, we don't get down to this part of Portland very often so it may be a while before I return. However, it wasn't the food that is likely to keep us away. Just sayin'.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Deschutes Brewery and Public House

If you've been reading this blog, then you know that we've been enjoying our visits to eating establishments that fall into the brew pub category. It seems that they serve a lot of comfort food and the friendly, casual atmosphere is appealing to us. Debbie even said to me recently that we should try another pub because she has enjoyed the fare so much. For this reason, I was really looking forward to our visit to the Deschutes Brewery and Public House. I was pleased to see a crowd when we arrived and the wait for a table turned into close to fifty minutes though the estimate when we arrived was reported to be approximately thirty minutes. Oh well, to me that says that their patrons were enjoying themselves and afterall it is difficult to guess when people will be done eating.

After what seemed to be a long time, our beeper let us know it was our turn and we were seated. The waitress took us to a raised table for two which is ok but we do prefer sitting in a booth type setting.

After spending a little time with the menu, I was ready to choose the Fish and Chips but Debbie suggested that I should try the Stewed Chicken. Ok, I yielded to her suggestion but when she ended up ordering the Fish and Chips I felt a little betrayed. I mean, why would it be unhealthy for me to eat deep fried cod but it was ok for her?

Fortunately for me, she did allow me to enjoy one of her three filets. It was very good and certainly might be worth a return trip. On the other hand, my selecton, the Stewed Chicken

was only ok. I thought the presentation was far too monochrome in that the red of the tomatoes was the only color present. I'm not going to say that it didn't taste good but it was a little under cooked in my opinion. I ate it all but I was just a little disappointed. That in itself is not a good reason to not give this establishment another chance but I might not go out of my way to get there. It is in the Pearl District and though its resident population may think there is something particularly special about "The Pearl" I am not impressed by a place solely because of a geographic location.

In short, though I may return to this place, it will not be because of an outstanding first impression. It will only be because I am hungry and I won't have to go very far out of my way to get there. Perhaps sometime when I am visiting Bend, Oregon I will try the Deschutes Brewery and Public House's other location.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Gasthaus Pub

It has been over six months since we posted on this blog. My dinner companion and I have each missed doing this but we've been extremely busy with other distractions. We were each mentally and physically exhausted today so when it turned out that today was a payday of sorts, we decided that we deserved a special event like "Dining in the Dark".

The Gasthaus Pub is an extension of the Widmer Brothers Brewing Company. I drove past the place one time and thought to myself that it looked like an interesting establishment. It is situated in what appears to be an old industrial building between the the Rose Quarter and the railroad tracks along the Columbia River.

Growing up I never would have entered a place which had the word "Pub" in its name. However, if you've read all of my previous posts you'll have noticed that I have discovered that many of those establishments are not just a collection of dingy bars but, in fact, are family friendly, well respected restaurants. This one I am pleased to say is exactly that.

The place was full when we entered and there is no waiting room. We were only waiting for a short five minutes or less. The clientele ranged in ages from infants to senior citizens.

We started our dinner with a really good appetizer which was described as a spinach artichoke cheese dip. It came with half a baguette of French bread. Wow! That was a good start.

Along with a full line of adult malt beverages, they brew their own root beer. I saw someone order what looked like a cola also.

Debbie ordered a green salad which I got to sample. It was good and came with a delightful variety of croutons.

Her entree was a bowl of Goulash over mashed potatoes. I got to eat a significant portion of her plate. It too was excellent. It was the real Hungarian style with lots of paprika. There were peppers as well which whispered hints of Hispanic cuisine.

My choice was chicken schnitzel. It came with garlic mashed potatoes and what I believe were beet greens. Again, it was very tasty and after eating Debbie's goulash, I'll be eating the balance of my plate tomorrow for lunch. I am sooo looking forward to it.

We are definitely returning to this place. We are thinking that it might be fun to just order appetizers and share each others choices. I'm like totally looking forward to that.